Life is about choices.
How one deals with the trials, tribulations, celebrations and challenges is a choice. Vancouver songstress, Deborah Ledon’s life and career is defined by the choices made, and these choices have shaped her into the talented, driven, dynamic, powerfully authentic singer/songwriter/entertainer she is today.
She has chosen to follow her heart when it comes to music, by celebrating her vibrant Cuban heritage through a unique interpretation of the jazz that permeates the soul of every person from that isolated island nation. And she has chosen to do so on her own terms, asserting what it truly means to be a Latino woman and in the process, shattering long-held stereotypes.
Ledon has been a fixture on the Vancouver music scene for more than a decade, and her infectious, sultry, passionate and wonderfully unique brand of Latin Jazz has earned her legions of fans, and many accolades.
A favourite of patrons and staff at the River Rock Casino, she is the only Latin act to perform on the stage and the prestigious venue, and has shared that stage with music legends Paul Anka and Mike Reno of Loverboy. She has participated in Jazzilla 2010 and the grand finale at the 2010 TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival, and represented Canada at the 2010 Cultural Olympiad during the Vancouver Winter Olympics.
She also performed at CBC Studio 1, a performance that was broadcast nationwide to promote the 2009 TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival, and has performed at the exclusive Harmony Arts Festival for four consecutive years.
Ledon began singing from the age of two, and began winning singing contests in elementary school. She was discovered by a talent scout while performing at a high school music night in Toronto, and began her professional music career in earnest, performing in venues where she wasn’t even old enough to be a patron.
Over her career, she has performed throughout Canada and the United States, as her eminently, adaptable voice has garnered opportunities to front rock, funk, country, blues, Big Band and jazz bands featuring top professional musicians from around the continent.
Once established on the west coast, Ledon decided to focus her prodigious talents as a vocalist and entertainer to spreading her brand of Latin Jazz with a single-minded passion for her craft, as well as a fiercely independent nature.
“I started to feel very Latin here in Vancouver, so when I began performing Latin music, it was important for me to represent my heritage in the proper manner. I am purposely not a Salsa singer. I am a Jazz singer, and I serve up English and Latin Jazz standards, with some pop in the mix but they are original arrangements from my musical director. I get up on stage and I represent the Latin woman in a different light, and I sing the songs in a way that is unexpected,” Ledon said.
Although she was a toddler when her family fled Cuba’s Communist regime of Fidel Castro, Ledon’s maternal grandmother became a cultural touchstone for her home country.
“She was my mentor, goddess, and hero. Everything that I know about Cuba, everything that I left in Cuba, and everything that I have saved of Cuba in my heart came from her. Their love of live, of each other, their sense of community is so pure and untouched, and that is the essence of Cuban music too,” Ledon said. “It’s a celebration of life and love and joy despite hardship. But they refuse to focus on the hardship. They are going to focus on their family, their people. To me, the music I write and perform and interpret represents that sense of love and joy and belonging.”
And it’s could also be said that this is Ledon’s philosophy of life as well as music.
Her radiant smile, sassy, sultry and confident stage persona, and effervescent passionately positive outlook flies in the face of a life that has seen Ledon endure a roller coaster ride of an existence, yet refuses to be brought low by experiences that would have devastated most people.
“I find beauty all the time. I do live my life from my heart and I am an honest, authentic person. I appreciate people, and I like to build people up, through my music, but also in general.”
Ledon’s remarkable life has also seen her train and work as a nurse. She also founded and ran a group for female entrepreneurs, a member of Theatre Ontario has acted in productions of Man of La Mancha, The Vagina Monologues and Carol Shield’s Departures and Arrivals, and is also a performance/life coach/ vocal coach and mentor.
In 2004, she wrote, produced, financed and distributed her debut CD, which featured more contemporary music, called Spilling Inside Out, which featured her scintillating vocal stylings and lush melodies but with jarringly powerful lyrics.
“I have spent my whole life putting it out there, and if I don’t put it out there, it means that I have to keep it bottled up inside,” she said. “But my heart tells me what to do, and I am thankful to have the ability to express myself through music, and to entertain people. I am very lucky.”
That album earned her the accolade as the Best New Jazz and Folk Artist in the U.K. for 2004, and charted as one of the year’s best on the Euro-Americana charts in 2005.
In 2013, Deborah was awarded Vancouver’s “Best of the City” and when not performing with her own project, Deborah tours with Legends Of Rock ‘n’ Roll ™ and The Memphis Beats Band. Her second album, Diving For Pearls is now available through CD Baby & iTunes, and features Deborah’s talented ensemble of top jazz musicians in Vancouver. Her rendition of “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” made both the US Billboard Charts (coming in at # 3 for Most Added) and Smooth Jazz Charts (moving from # 17 to # 11 on the Top 20).