Name: Sheila Soares
Occupation: Singer/Songwriter, former Elementary Teacher for 13 years in Toronto, currently also working in Administration for NewRoads Automotive Group
Age: Excited to be 50!
Lifestyle: Music Mom Sleep Repeat
What’s a typical day like for you?
Besides my day job working for NewRoads and caring for my eleven year old son, I try to find time to practice singing each day – easier some days than others! Sunday nights are my writing nights as often as possible – this has yielded everything from complete songs in one night to a few sketches of possible future ideas. I call it the Sunday Night Write.
My philosophy of life, though, is to strive for balance, so I also try to find time to take a de-stressing walk, socialize at a music event, or just relax with a nice Cab Sauv!
What in your life is really important to you?
My son always takes priority. Relationships of all kinds are next. This is vital. I need alone time balanced with social time. Being grateful for being here.
What would you like to be remembered for?
For being kind and caring. And funny. I’m often hilarious. Or I think I am. Mostly I’d like to be remembered for being me, flaws and all. And for the passion for the music.
What role does fashion play in your life?
The opportunity to take some time with an outfit or get dressed up is something I really enjoy when it presents itself. I’ve always loved clothes. I think I get that from my mom.
Budget often dictates a simple, classic look, but I will try to have something colourful or different to wear now and then just to keep it more interesting.
What do you love about shopping at Fresh Collective?
I love that it’s Canadian, local, and caters to such a wide range of clientele. The clothes are creative without being impossible to wear. The staff are especially great! I will be coming back often!
You are a jazz vocalist and songwriter, but you used to work as a school (music) teacher! Could you tell us a bit about how you decided to make the transition and focus more on your own work as a musician?
Unfortunately I was pretty ill for a couple of years and was left with some lasting effects. I found teaching had become too stressful and the workload overwhelming given that experience. So, I left. But, the entire time I was sick, I kept on singing. At times that was difficult and downright painful, but it kept me going.
Once I left teaching, I started attending the Girls Night Out Jazz Jam run by Lisa Particelli. It’s now every Wednesday at 120 Diner. It’s an open, welcoming place that caters to singers (and gentlemen are welcome too!).
I have sung my whole life, but it was time to start doing it solo. That led to becoming part of the wonderful jazz community here in Toronto.
I treat it almost like going back to school. I listen and learn and try to work with others to learn more as well. I was 47 when I finally wrote my first song!
Anie Flard Skirt by Quebec label MOOVment Design; Vivette Tee in Pink Deco Print (also available in other prints and designs!) by Toronto label Mandala; Denim Sara Flip Skirt in Blue (also available in other colours!) by Toronto label Mandala
How would you describe your relationship with music? What attracts you to jazz in particular?
Music is part of who I am. It was innate from a very young age. I grew up with piano lessons and sang all the time. However, I always felt drawn to a teaching career, which I finally started after a brief flirtation with Radio Broadcasting and Banking.
I somehow didn’t perceive myself as someone who could make a living as a musician, so I didn’t follow that path. But the music was always there.
Jazz is community and democracy in action. I love that it’s a shared experience for the performers as we take turns through a piece of music. I love the improvisational, creative aspects of it.
Here in Toronto, the jazz musicians are so supportive of each other regardless of your stage of development with it. As long as you’re sincere and aware of the need to always learn more, it works. And, of course, it swings man!
As a songwriter, in what do you find your inspiration?
I guess I’m typical in that I write what I know. (Is that why I have written so many heartbreaking love songs??) I’m a lyricist first, but almost as soon as I start to write a line I also start to hear a melody. I like to try different genres although jazz is my preference. Lately I’ve leaned into some country/folk which is great for storytelling.
I’ve also tried the beginnings of co-writing and have started moving into more issue based topics as well as love songs. I try to attend a monthly songwriters meeting so I can be inspired by other writers. I also get really inspired going to see friends perform.
I would love other people to cover my songs! Sometimes hearing them become real is even more exciting than singing them myself!
What do you have that you want to promote?
Many people have liked my latest demo, which is not jazz at all.
I have a seasonal tune on iTunes.
My website is https://sheilasoaresmusic.com/
Where can we find samples of your work?
More songs on SoundCloud
Where can people find you on social media?
Vocal Horizons Chamber Choir website (Sheila Soares as soprano)
Also check out the Jazz Performance and Education Centre (JPEC) website!
Follow me on Twitter