Heather Keizur always loved the French language.
Born in the U.S., but raised mostly in Canada (including some time in Port Alberni), she tried to mimic the sounds of French as a child.
“I think I tried to say it long before I could speak it,” she said.
Keizur performs a selection of French and English jazz standards at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni on June 30, and again in Nanaimo for Canada Day at Diners Rendezvous.
Keizur caught the performance bug at a talent show in Grade 7. Her vocal talent earned her second place.
“I’d never performed in front of anyone before,” Keizur said.
After that, she sang for fundraisers and events, competing in the Miss Port Alberni pageant in 1981.
At 19, she started playing in jazz clubs in Nanaimo and Victoria, moving to California in 1984 before she settled in Portland, Oregon.
She stopped performing, instead raising her children. Once her children were grown, she started performing again.
“We have an amazing jazz scene,” Keizur said.
Regular jazz jams provided the venue for Keizur to reawaken her skills and hone her chops under the guidance of talented and welcoming musicians.
She was nervous heading to that first jam but soon realized she needn’t be.
“They are unbelievable musicians who just show up at the jazz jams,” Keizur said. “They still welcomed me – they coached me.”
At the jams she met many of the musicians who performed on her album. Steve Christofferson accompanies Keizur during her concerts by playing piano and melodica, also called a blow-organ or a key flute.
“He’s really got a soul for music,” Keizur said. “His passion for music is equal to mine.”
Her love of the French language translated to music and she sang La Vie En Rose, which garnered so much praise she added the French songs to her repertoire.
Keizur, who graduated with a degree in French, teaches at a Montessori school, incorporating her two passions of French and music into her lessons. Her students sing three annual concerts, which always include a French song.
“They just fall in love with these songs,” Keizur said. “I just try to open up the world of music to them.”
Keizur said she can’t wait to return to the Island, which she regards as her hometown, to share her music with family and friends.
“I just love performing,” she said. “It’s the most exciting thing to come there and perform.
“It’s like coming home.”
The Capitol Theatre is located at 4904 Argyle Street, Port Alberni. Advance tickets are $22 each and available online at www.atthecapitol.org or at the Rollin Art Centre on Eighth Avenue. Tickets at the door will be $25 each.
The Capitol box office opens at 6 p.m.; the Capitol’s licensed lounge opens at 6:30 p.m., and the concert starts at 7:30 p.m.
Penned by Melissa Fryer/Black Press