Janet Whiteway is not the kind of artist you can sum up in one word. Superlative. Sublime. Sultry. Eclectic. Electric. Entertaining. There are many words that apply, every one of them equally appropriate.
A lifetime of music and instruments, stretching back to her early childhood, have given Janet the rock-solid foundation for her sound and has allowed her to grow her style into something that no other artist can reproduce.
Songs have always resonated with people, for one simple reason. They’re pure. They inspire. They lift. She’s taken years of learning, of practicing and performing and distilled it all down to an unmistakable and utterly distinctive sound. Janet is telling the stories that people have always wanted to hear.
If you ever want to test out your self-control, come to a Janet Whiteway show and see how long it is before you start singing or dancing – you’ll probably wind up doing both. This is the cream of musical performance, and when it’s paired up with her delightfully whimsical take on life, it makes for time well spent.
Janet began her long, strange trip, when she and her sister were at the Royal Conservatory of Music, which led to choir, piano and as her skills and interests evolved, the violin, then the flute, before settling on the French horn. Thanks to exposure to the emerging sound coming out of the U.S. around this time, Janet’s musical education accelerated. Back to Canada in time to enter the adolescent musical phase that many of us have experienced, Janet picked up a guitar and became a formidable musician who decided that her future was in music, which brought her to Humber College and Queen’s School of Music to study French horn, which she combined with vocal training under Randall Marsh and Patricia Rideout.
Like many Canadian artists at the time, Toronto was the place to be after graduation. Janet played piano, worked in musical theatre, founded and played with cover bands and wrote and performed original songs. Not a bad way to spend 20 years. In 2008 Janet figured it was the right time to focus on her own music, which brought ‘Pure Sunshine’ into existence. Working with James Paul at Toronto’s Rogue Studio allowed Janet to build further on the time, energy and passion she’d put into her music.
In 2015 Janet Whiteway did something that musicians are told never to do. She quit her day job.
Taking her biggest step yet, Janet wrote and recorded ‘Love Is Hope’, her musical commentary on the politics and culture of our time. It’s a continuance of her ongoing education, from the American politics of the late 60’s to the Canadian politics of the 21st century. From some of the darkest days to what she hopes might be a brighter future. Her contribution to that future is her music, her passion and her stellar talent.
Listen to ‘Autumn’ on Pure Sunshine (her first CD) and hear the wrenching honesty of goals partially attained. Or ‘Broken Vows’, gorgeous and somber, ancient and Irish, but tuned up for our ears. This CD – eclectic, soulful, funky – instantly grabs your attention, but rewards careful listening. Her live performance – the same, flexibility and professionalism are clearly the basis of her work.
For now, Janet spends a lot of time behind the piano, working on her cover tunes and original music, and that paid off when she won the RightOutTVMusic&Video Award in the “Best Song So Far” category for ‘Pure Sunshine’, the title track of her first CD. Her new CD Love Is Hope will be released in December, 2017.
Janet cites a pretty eclectic list of artists as her inspirational sources. Amy Winehouse, Freddie Mercury, Nina Simone, Elvis Costello and Stevie Wonder feature in her influences. And just like them, people are amazed at how much power, sound and talent can be contained in such a small package. Her embrace of her eclectic side has allowed her to explore a truly wide range of styles and genres, which becomes obvious when you hear her work.
You’ll hear blues, gospel, rock, opera, soul, funk, classical – it’s a few hundred years of musical theory coming to town when Janet Whiteway plays.
Nora Young, CBC broadcaster: Janet’s charming and eclectic style is a heady cocktail. Blending chamber pop, jazz, and a dash of gospel, Janet’s songs live where Saturday night meets Sunday morning, and anything can happen.
“I find it boring to stick to just one style” Janet says, reflecting on how she got to where she is now, after experiments in R&B, the Broadway songbook and jazz. “When I was trying just to create jazz, I got writer’s block.”
Classically trained in French horn and voice - including a music degree from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Janet loves the kind of artfully turned lyrics and surprising, yet hooky, melodies of singer songwriters such as Elvis Costello, Rufus Wainwright, and Joni Mitchell.
While her music explores the range of human emotion, on stage, Janet’s lively sense of humour lights up the room. She’s likely to break into a comic riff with the band, tip a musical hat to Elton John, or offer up a funky take on a country music classic. “I hope my music comes across as optimistic “she says, smiling. “After all, I’m going to take you down to the river and wash all your sins away!”
Love Is Hope
Janet’s 2017 release – Love Is Hope features 10 new tracks exploring love and hope from every angle. Lost love, new love, love of nature, even late-for-a-date fun!
The first song “Rise Above” asks why we continue to write songs of love and hope when we see so much heartache around us. “Fragile” is written from the perspective of Mother Nature, and begs us to remember that, even though we recognize the harm we have done, we must always find hope for positive change. “The U” is Janet’s shout-out to Prince, in style, and speaks of the one true but elusive love, and of the present enduring love. “I’ve Given In” is the epitome of a tried and true jazz ballad, while “Bus Driver” and “Love Walked In” are a couple of fun swing tunes. “Thin Wire” was inspired by the TV series The Wire, it explores the line between good and evil, right and wrong and the underlying vulnerability we experience in our lives. “All These Rooms” was written after Janet watched an interview by George Stroumboulopoulos with June Callwood. “It’s Alright” speaks to the desire to go back to what we think are happier times, but, knowing we can’t, we just have to forge ahead in love and hope, and work for peace in our lives and in the world around us!