It’s a long way from Austria to the Yellowdoor in Montreal. Jon Davis’ experience spans many miles and styles, from studying classical singing at the Franz-Schubert-Institut in Austria on a full scholarship to recording his upcoming Indie/Folk CD with acclaimed Canadian producer Bill Garrett. Adept in various musical genres, Davis’ warm vocals won him a lead role in the swing era musical, Till We Meet Again, (Panache Theatre), which toured successfully in halls such as Kitchener Centre on the Square and the Guelf River Run Theatre.
Davis began his studies in composition as a jazz pianist but changed his focus to classical singing after winning the Montreal NATS (National Association of Teachers of Singing) competition, eventually obtaining a Master of Music degree in voice performance from McGill University.
In his teens, Davis completed a fine arts diploma at John Abbott College. His visual art and musical training in classical and jazz has made for a unique and sophisticated song-writing style within the folk genre. Davis strives to incorporate every inch of his artistic experience into his songs; from seeing music in different hues and tones, to using 19th and 20th century classical song composition techniques such as word painting and using simple melodies reminiscent of 60s style folk. Indeed, his music is influenced not only by his love of classical and Romantic composers, but also by the likes of Joni Mitchell, Nick Drake, and Neil Young and is filtered through a new wave of contemporary Folk music. Varying from intensely intimate sounds of just guitar and voice to explosive swells with a full band and string quartet, Jon Davis’ music easily evokes images such as trees blowing in the wind in Silver tree, and rich colours in Nocturnal Rainbow. The true strength of his music is how colourfully dramatic musical settings enhance his lyrics.
Having already organized and sung with 60 piece orchestras while at McGill, creating and facilitating his own performance opportunities is not new to him. He continues to produce his concerts in various venues and has managed, as an emerging artist, to raise $8,000 through CD pre-sales for the recording of his upcoming album.
He is a recipient of numerous awards including Quebec’s Jeunes volontaires grant, including project grants from McGill University’s Student Life Fund (McGill Alumni Association), and Campus Life Fund (Student Society of McGill University). In addition to performing, he currently teaches popular voice at the McGill Conservatory of Music.
Montreal singer songwriter's debut is golden
So often with performing artists, emotion comes at the expense of skill. Not so with Jon Davis, the promising Montreal-based singer-songwriter, who, with two music degrees under his belt, is bound to impress as well as touch audiences with his strong warm vocals and intimate lyrics. Described as jazz influenced indie folk rock with a touch of classical, Davis' debut album, Golden Hue, is something special.
Produced by acclaimed Canadian producer & founding member of Toronto's Borealis Records Bill Garrett, the album lives up to its name in the richness of its sound and instrumentation. In addition to Davis on vocals, acoustic guitar and piano, a unique band of eight talented musicians provides a solid backing for this poetic and musically interesting material. Alongside the standard jazz rhythm section, a string quartet adds depth and texture to a number of the tracks.
While his classical voice and jazz piano training have certainly been key in informing Davis' compositional style, he has also been deeply influenced by artists such as Nick Drake, Neil Young, and notably, Joni Mitchell. His music, filled with rich harmonies, is at once soft and dramatic, intensely personal in the gentlest of ways: if it feels like he’s singing right to you, it’s because he is. Each song provides a window into the heart of this artist whose vulnerability, even more than the command of his instrument, or the beauty of his lyrics, may just be his greatest strength.