It is all too easy to dismiss jazz music as obtuse or out of the mainstream. In an increasingly subdividing and diversifying world, the genre has come to represent difficult to hear and filled with too many notes. What’s interesting is that nothing could be further from the truth. 

Jazz music has its roots in storytelling and songwriting derived from early American history. Its complication comes much later, but it’s beginnings are simply in using music to express emotions both raw and powerful by combining the musical traditions of immigrant cultures into something uniquely North American. 

Jazz Divas, at the Flato Markham Theatre on Dec. 14, is a show that promises to reconnect the audience with those roots. 

The show features three Canadian women with powerhouse voices: Eliana Cuevas, Barbra Lica and Carol Welsman.

Eliana Cuevas has grown into an accomplished singer-songwriter and bandleader through years of touring around the world and collaborating with Juno Award-winning performers. She has released five albums of original music so far and was named National Jazz Award for Latin Jazz Artist of the Year in 2009, Best World Music Artist at the Toronto Independent Music Awards in 2007 and 2014. She performs at the Flato Markham Theatre for the very first time.

Barbra Lica is both a Markham native and a JUNO nominee who been receiving accolades for her unique vocal ability, genre-bending songwriting, and captivating live performances. A regular on the Canadian and American club and festival scenes, Lica has performed everywhere and anywhere from New York City’s legendary Birdland to Toronto’s prestigious Koerner Hall. Her fifth album, You’re Fine, was released on Nov. 9 and features an introspective mix of swing music and old country as she welcomed Vince Gill, Mark Knopfler and Shania Twain as collaborators on the record.

“Markham is where I grew up and developed my love and knowledge of music,” says Lica. “It’s always so exciting to come home again and sing for my Markham peeps.”

Six-time Juno Award-nominated jazz artist Carol Welsman is an internationally acclaimed singer and pianist with deep musical roots. As the granddaughter of the founder and first conductor of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, music seemed to be her birthright. Her career has seen her study piano and voice with world’s finest teachers while writing lyrics for legends like Ray Charles, Celine Dion and, even, Pavarotti. Since then she has released 12 records, toured the entire world as a performer and sold more than 60,000 CDs in Canada alone.

“I make a point of connecting with my audience, evoking emotion through the storytelling in song,” says Welsman. “With every show I perform, I want the audience to feel like they’re sitting in my living room, being part of the latest leg of my musical journey.” 

Visit www.markhamtheatre.ca for more details.

Photo, from the left: Carol Welsman, Eliana Cuevas and Barbra Lica.