Anna- Lisa Kirby


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Known for her remarkable talent as a story-teller, when Anna-Lisa is on stage, she uses her

phrasing, her multifaceted voice and musical ingenuity to transport the listener to a place where

they can lay their burdens down for the moment, and exist in the beauty of the story she is

weaving for them. From ballads, straight ahead swinging standards or personalized

arrangements of songs from more modern popular repertoire, Anna-Lisa effortlessly flows from

one genre to another, creating a seamless, yet diverse selection of music. She performs in such

an intimate way as to make each audience member feel like they are simply sitting beside her,

having their own personal conversation with her.

Canadian by birth, Anna-Lisa’s career as a jazz vocalist has spanned 25 years. She moved to

New York in 1990 to learn and grow as a jazz vocalist in New York City. She enrolled at The

Manhattan School of Music and was even further educated on the stages of some of New

York’s most enduring jam sessions.

She learned further from getting to experience all of the great Jazz vocalists live in New York at

that time: Ella Fitgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Carmen McRae, Betty Carter, Abbey Lincoln, Dianne

Reeves, Claudia Acuna and more. These singers set the framework for the singer she was

eventually to become.

She was fortunate to perform and record with saxophonist and composer, Andy Farber and his

Swing Mavens, back when he first formed the band in 1999. She learned so much from getting

to work with Andy Farber and Doug Wamble and Eric Lewis and Jennifer Vincent and everyone

else that was in that killer band, at places like Swing 46 and Lincoln Centre Mid-Summer Night

Swing Concerts.

During these formative years in NYC, she had the privilege of sharing the stage, recording and

most importantly, learning from more of the world's very best Jazz instrumentalists: Wynton

Marsalis, Cyrus Chestnut, Stefon Harris, Terreon Gully, Wycliffe Gordon, Stev Kirby and many,

many others over the years.

From 2003 - 2018 she was the Jazz Vocal Instructor and the Jazz Program Coordinator,

alongside her husband Steve Kirby who was the Director of the program, at The University of

Manitoba Jazz Studies Program. These were extremely critical and formative years for Anna-

Lisa, not only as a performer and educator, but more importantly, as a life-long student of the

music and as a human being.

While in Winnipeg she had the opportunity to perform and record with the University Jazz

Faculty Ensemble for many years. Her concerts of her original arrangements of the Songbooks

of Leonard Cohen and Carol King garnered excellent reviews but being featured with the Steve

Kirby’s Oceanic Jazz Orchestra has been the highlight of her career so far.

She had the great fortune to learn from all of the wonderful vocalists and instrumentalists that

her and her husband brought to the university to perform and teach: Cyrille Aimme, Cecile

McLoren Salvant, Kurt Elling, Dianne Reeves, Charanee Wade, Gregory Porter, Alicia Olatuja


and Allan Harris, Houston Person, Kenny Barron, Joe Lovano, Christian Mc, Bride, Spike

Wilner, The Clayton Brothers, Marcus Printup, Warren Wolf, Regina Carter, Omer Avital, Spike

Wilner, Terreon Gully, Steve Wilson, Steve Turre, Stefon Harris, Mulgrew Miller, Anat and

Avishai Cohen. Anna-Lisa truly believes that all the joy, all the pain, all the passion, all the hurt,

all the sadness, over the years mingled with unforgettable musical and personal experiences

with so many great artists, has shaped her into the artist she is now.

The one thing that has remained constant over the past 25 years is the personal and musical

relationship Anna-Lisa and her husband, bassist Steve Kirby have shared, nurtured and

maintained. Despite many difficult challenges, they continue to thrive and even blossom as

artists and as humans. They are both devoted to their careers as artists and performers, to their

two incredibly strong and beautiful children and to each other.