Bria Skonberg performs during Jazz Affair, a fundraiser by the Friends of Nanaimo Jazz Society to raise money for school music programs, on May 26 at the Coast Bastion Hotel. Georgia Nerheim Photo

VIDEO: Young Nanaimo jazz musicians perform in front of sold-out crowd during Jazz Affair

Jazz Affair is an annual fundraiser for music education in the Nanaimo school district

Jazz is a universal language, says trumpeter and vocalist Bria Skonberg.

“Jazz is a reflection of the human spirit and tells stories of the history all over the world,” said Skonberg. “It’s about people coming together and sharing their individual voices and sharing something unique and spontaneous.”

Originally from Chilliwack, Skonberg now resides in New York. Skonberg said moving to New York has influenced her in ways she never expected, such as giving her a “real sense of self.”

“It’s an easy place to lose yourself,” said Skonberg, adding that she embraced her Chilliwack roots to help anchor herself.

One of the reasons she decided to move to New York was because she was seeking honest feedback. During her time in the city, she studied with jazz trumpeter Warren Vache.

Skonberg recently won a Juno Award, Vocal Jazz Album of the Year, for her album Bria, released in September 2016.

“I worked hard to pull the project together,” said Skonberg.

The musician was joined at the awards ceremony by her parents and husband.

“There was a lot of love there. Everyone was so excited,” said Skonberg. “It’s a wonderful affirmation of just being on the right path. It’s a little boost on the spirit – the soul. You are doing the right thing, keep going.”

Skonberg started playing piano when she was younger and then in high school her band teacher suggested she become a trombone player. Her father who had played a bit in high school had a trumpet in the house.

“He said ‘no you want to play the melodies. Play the trumpet,’” said Skonberg.

She has performed at more than 100 festivals worldwide and received Best Vocal and Best Trumpet awards from Hot House magazine.

Skonberg performs in Nanaimo as a special guest during the 12th annual Jazz Affair. Prior to the concert she will be leading workshops for students in the Nanaimo school district.

Friends of Nanaimo Jazz Society presents Jazz Affair at the Coast Bastion Hotel on May 26 at 6 p.m. Tickets are $60, which includes a buffet dinner at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are available by calling 250-754-8550 or by visiting www.porttheatre.com. To reserve a table for eight to 10 people, please call Sue at 250-616-4838.

During the evening, Skonberg will be joined by pianist Phil Dwyer, bassist Ken Lister and drummer Kelby MacNayr. Other featured performers include the Nanaimo Musicians Association Big Band, Nanaimo District Secondary School Jazz Combo and award-winning Wellington Jazz Academy students.

Jazz Affair is an annual fundraiser to raise money for music education in the Nanaimo school district.

arts@nanaimobulletin.com