Ball is rolling for Calgary musician Joanna Borromeo as she vies for Juno Award
By Mike Bell, Calgary Herald
Joanna Borromeo is happy to report a great deal has happened in her world since we last sat down together. And all of it good.
That first chat was less than a week after the Calgary musician had found out — via Twitter — that she and her album Kaleidoscope had just earned a Juno nomination for R&B/Soul Recording of the Year. And at that point she was asked if the nomination had brought any tangible rewards to her.
“I’ve noticed a little bump. It’s modest,” Borromeo said pointing to social media reaction, which brought her a couple of extra listens, a few more followers and a handful of “Likes.”
Now, though, it’s mere days before the big weekend in Winnipeg and she’s positively giddy about all of events that have transpired during that month in between. She’s released a new single, filmed a pair of videos, booked a tour in California, was added to the Edmonton International Jazz Festival and is now competing in the CBC Searchlight competition.
“Ever since that interview it’s been non-stop,” she says, this time too busy even for an in-person. “It’s really cool.”
So there it is, the flurry of opportunities one can expect with that big Juno bump.
“No, none at all,” Borromeo says with a laugh. “None of this stuff came from the Junos.
“The Junos just came at a great time.”
Ah. Well. Perhaps it’s a question we can revisit on a third occasion, preferably after the singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist returns back home with an actual Juno Award in tow. We’ll find out on Saturday night when the award is handed out during the award gala that precedes Sunday evening’s made-for-TV affair, where only six of the prizes will be doled out.
And Borromeo, despite being an indie artist up against such other artists as The Weeknd and JRDN featuring Kardinal Offishall, has as good a chance as any to bring home the glory.
Kaleidoscope, recorded at The Station Recording Co., a “gem” in the West Hillhurst community operated by Craig Newnes, Spencer Cheyne and Clea Roddick, is a pretty great showcase of what Borromeo has been doing in this city for some time now — warm, gorgeous, jazzy, funk and soul delivered with a set of pipes that’s the perfect mix of power, sensuality, sass and seduction.
It’s one that’s made her a versatile voice to call on for collaborative purposes, with her working, in the past, with a remarkably interesting group of names that includes fellow R&B artist Divine Brown, popsmith Joel Plaskett and even iconic kids entertainer Raffi on his song On Hockey Days.
But Kaleidoscope, her sophomore effort, is a more personal expression for the songwriter, one that allows her to show off all of her sides and show how comfortable she is with her many musical gifts.
Perhaps that’s why she deservedly takes such great pride in even getting invited to the big Juno dance.
“I guess it’s like a huge affirmation for me,” says the artist, who also teaches voice and piano in the city.
“Last year at the Western Canadian Music Awards, I was nominated as well. That was the first time I caught a glimpse of the whole ‘thing.’ I felt like such a small, independent artist. I just like making music.
“Now to be nominated again, for a Juno, I’m starting to think that, ‘OK, I guess what I’m doing is reaching people.’ And that’s cool.”
And should she win? Is she prepared for all that could follow?
“I don’t know yet what it will mean, to tell you the truth,” she says, noting that she already feels as if her career is finally in full swing and the opportunities are endless.
“I really feel like that now. Now the ball is really starting to roll.”
At the perfect time.