Fueling momentum behind her latest exquisite release Unsteady, Calgary singer/songwriter Maura Shaftoe performs Nov. 13 at The Matchbox.
Performance time is 8 p.m.
Shaftoe describes her music as folk and jazz-influenced pop with a splash of country thrown in for good measure. Her current tour showcases folk songs, sophisticated standards, plus covers of Canadian artists and lots of tremendous original tunes.
“I grew up in a home where we listened to a really diverse range of music,” she explains during a recent chat. There was pretty much a bit of everything in her parents’ collection, from Harry Belafonte and Vera Lynn to Roger Whittaker.
Her mom was also a singer, yet it wasn’t a career path her folks particularly encouraged for their daughter at first.
“Later on, when I decided to start singing professionally, they were very supportive and were supportive from that time forward. I think they realized you have to do what you love.”
But Shaftoe didn’t initially set her sites on a musical career.
She worked in the automotive industry for about 20 years as a service manager. She’s also been a personal trainer.
During those years, music was never far from her heart.
“I would take singing lessons when I could afford it and had the time.”
After the birth of her son she took on a fresh perspective about her life’s direction.
“I decided I wasn’t going to be someone who wouldn’t aspire to anything new,” she recalls after settling into the welcome routines of parenting. So she stepped it up a notch singing-wise, performing more at venues and honing her songwriting skills.
A debut CD was eventually released in 2003.
After that, she started a consulting business and took on more responsibilities with her parents as their health began to fail.
In 2008, she decided to put together another recording and it was during that period her mother passed away.
Unsteady and its title track are dedicated to her mother.
The song is a beautiful and poignant work of tender reflection with opening lyrics ‘All those years of mental preparation/Knowing you were leaving day by day/Unsteady, swimming in a quiet desperation/Hoping against hope that you would stay.’
These days, Shaftoe is all the more dedicated to her music. It’s a fabulous way to connect with people, and she treasures those moments when listeners approach her after a show to comment on how a tune has touched them.
Getting used to performing took some time, as Shaftoe points to the vulnerability that often comes with expressing oneself via the power of song.
“For me, singing is an emotional experience. When I’m singing, you can see my soul.”
Meanwhile, she’s got solid back-up for her tour. Joining Shaftoe is bassist/producer/songwriter Michael Lent, who also produced Unsteady and guitarist/singer/songwriter Ben Sure who has played with many great Canadian artists including Rita Chiarelli, The Wyrd Sisters, Tim Williams, Emma Cook and Michelle Rumball (Grievious Angels).
For Shaftoe, pressing forward and challenging herself creatively is key to producing a unique sound.
And it’s never too late to try new things and plunge oneself into fresh, exhilarating experiences. “I’m someone who believes that you don’t peak when you are 18,” she adds with a chuckle. “You have so many more years of life.
“I also think people can relate to me,” she adds of her continual passion to tap into the richness of making music. “The know I’m invested in what I’m doing.”
For ticket information, call The Matchbox at 403-341-6500 or visit www.ticketleap.com.