Jonathan Estabrooks makes a triumphant return to his hometown with an intimate performance at the NAC’s Fourth Stage Thursday, April 10.
The classically-trained baritone spent time with Opera Lyra, and with various musical theatre companies before following his musical education at the University of Toronto and the famed Juilliard school in New York, where he is now based.
His debut album These Miles was independently released on April 8, with funding to the tune of $27,500 raised through the crowd-sourcing site Kickstarter.
Labelled one of the “new breed” of classical performers, Estabrooks is active on Twitter and Facebook, interacting with fans and even procuring musical collaborators like Jonathan Antoine and Jennifer Thomas.
Q: Tell me about your musical upbringing and how you got to this point?
A: I grew up in the Ottawa South area, and then went to the University of Toronto and then Juilliard, and I’m now based out of New York, so this project is one of many, but I had long wanted to do a crossover project like this that involves a real cross-section of styles.
I grew up with both classical and popular influences, especially being involved with musical theatre in Ottawa, and I performed throughout the city. I’ve always had an eclectic mix of musical tastes, so to do an album like this that really is a cross-section of classical and popular styles, with a full orchestral sound, it just snowballed and took off.
Q: Tell me about the role of crowd-sourcing, like the Kickstarter campaign, in making These Miles.
A: We look at the music industry now, and people say the recording industry is in such shambles, and it’s so hard to make money as an artist, but then you look at these creative platforms that allow people to micro-fundraise.
Even the Obama campaign and how they were able to fund it from such a grassroots level, with just $5 and $10 donations.
The idea that you involve people in the community of the project, and they’re involved with you, you let them follow the creative process with you, it does two things: Not only can you raise the funds, but you build a fanbase that really feels as if they’re part of the final result. And they really are. I even sourced my cover photos to the fans through Twitter and Facebook, so it really does go beyond anything else, it’s about building a relationship that you hope will last well into the future.
We surpassed the $25,000 goal, which was amazing, but just to connect with people. About 70% of people who donated were people I didn’t know, from all over the world. So all aspects of social media were involved.
Q: You’ve been called “the new breed” of classical performer. Is there some resistance to this new world from some staunch classical purists?
A: The old school classical crowd may be resistant, simply because they don’t understand it, and I think the more we can engage people and realize at the end of the day, it’s about making great music, something that speaks to you, then it plays on the same emotional tones.
If we can find ways to reach people by using traditional marketing tools, as well as newer tools to get the word out, it’s a win-win.
As long as your doing your art with an understanding of high-quality, high-calibre performance, then why not?
Q: How did you go about choosing the tunes?
A: I really wanted to pick songs that spoke to me, and the album as a whole talks about journey a lot — journey in life and in love.
A lot of these songs I grew up around, with my dad playing Roy Orbison records, or The Everley Brothers, Simon & Garfunkel. But we went through so many songs, and whenever you’re doing an album of covers, there’s always the question of how can I make this my own?
So my goal was never to become a songwriter, I wanted to pick other people’s songs that I could make my own, and at the same time people could see them in a different light.
Here’s more about Jonathan’s These Miles:
JONATHAN ESTABROOKS – ‘THESE MILES’
RELEASE DATE: APRIL 8th, 2014 (Independent)
1. Play Me
2. Kathy’s Song
3. Time After Time
4. Le Cose Che Tu Sei (The Things You Are to Me) ft. Jennifer Thomas
5. Calling You
7. Por Una Cabesa ft. Jonathan Antoine
8. Always On My Mind
9. Away From The Roll Of The Sea
10. Any Place I Hang My Hat Is Home
11. All The Things
12. Fly Away (Bonus Track)
JONATHAN ESTABROOKS – UPCOMING LIVE PERFORMANCES
April 10th – Ottawa, ON – National Arts Centre – 4th Stage (7:30 PM)
May 20 & 21 – Toronto, ON – Roy Thompson Hall (Featured soloist with Toronto Symphony Orchestra for Classic Broadway: Lerner & Loewe)
FOR MORE INFO: