After two years of intermittently touring with New York based artists Paula Cole and Suzanne Vega, I figured an official move to NYC was imminent. In 2008, I was issued a study grant by the Canada Council for the Arts that finally brought me here, leading to what I now like to call my own “Tale of Two Cities” – Toronto and NYC.
After about a year of toughing it out in the Big City, I figured it might be time to resume full-time life and work back in Toronto. Then Sting called. Well, okay, it wasn’t actually Sting who called, it was one of his singers, Lisa Fischer, and later his producer, Robert Sadin. With a day’s notice, I was asked to show up at the famous midtown Clinton Studios, (where Ol’ Blue Eyes (Sinatra) once recorded many moons ago), to audition for a spot on Sting’s next DVD release, “A Winter’s Night: Live from Durham Cathedral.” After a few sessions with various other hopeful crooners, I got the email:
The first line read, “Sting would like to invite you to participate…” I didn’t even finish reading the first line before literally leaping off my stool and dancing around my tiny Brooklyn apartment, screaming with delight and near hysteria. Clichés aside, this was a dream come true.
The following months were a whirlwind, consisting of rehearsals in New York and Il Palagio (Sting’s Italian estate), a private jet ride to Newcastle, more rehearsals at the Durham Cathedral, the DVD taping itself, a NYC promotional tour with stops at Letterman, The View, The Today Show and Live with Regis & Kelly, and finally a swing of concerts in New York City, Paris and Baden-Baden. It was the experience of a lifetime.
In between the DVD taping in Durham and the NYC promotional tour at the end of October, my now-hubby and I conceived our first child. (Cue pregnant pause by the reader. Pun intended.) My first trimester wasn’t an easy one, and so touring and performing in November and December had its share of challenges, but no one suspected anything throughout this time. (Thank God for professional make up artists. They were able to turn my sickly green pallor into a dewy glow!)
In January of this year, the Sting stardust finally settled and with hardly a moment’s pause, I decided to jump into the studio and record a new album. Before the month was finished, and following several gruelling but rewarding days at Toronto’s Phase One Studios, a full-length album was in the can. This month, we will master the tracks and then set a release date. I’m pleased to tell you that our February 26th performance at Glenn Gould Studio, in Toronto, will include various new arrangements and songs that will be featured on the upcoming new release. This special show will also be my first solo concert performance with the Laila Biali Trio as a mother-to-be! Upon recapping, I think it’s fair to say 2009 was a productive year… or at the very least, a reproductive one.
Guest contributor Laila Biali performs at Glenn Gould Studio February 26