When Dawn Pemberton was a little girl she would often find herself singing along to the music she heard at her older sister’s vocal lessons.
“I remember going to some of her lessons and sitting underneath an ironing board just playing,” Pemberton recalled. “While they were doing all their warm ups and exercises I started copying them and I remember the teacher looking over and giggling.”
Despite being 4-years-old at the time, it was a critical moment for Pemberton.
“That was my first taste to finding out that there is more to singing than meets the eye,” Pemberton said.
Since then Pemberton has gone on to become a highly respected soul musician in Vancouver.
On Sunday (June 8) Pemberton will be performing at the Port Theatre as part of the Island Soul Choir’s Be Your Own Light musical concert.
The event will be directed by Karla Mundy and features the Patrick Courtin Trio as well as over 100 singers from across Vancouver Island.
“I am just really excited about it and the Island Soul Choir is very dear to my dear to my heart,” Pemberton said about the upcoming show.
Pemberton, who is based in Vancouver, grew up in a musically active family.
“My siblings were all very musical and I just remember really wanting to have something that I could do,” she said. “My brothers played the drums and saxophone and my sister sang and played the piano.”
When Pemberton was 7-years-old she began playing in the piano, but it wasn’t until she reached high school that she began to seriously think about a career in music.
“It wasn’t until I think I was about in grade 11,” she said.
“I was a good student but when I was thinking about what I woudl like to pursue, doctor, lawyer, dentist, all that stuff didn’t’ really stir me, but music always did.”
Following high school, Pemberton has been featured on over 35 recordings and been involved in a handful of musical groups including the No Sh!t Shirleys, BJ Block and Dawn Pemberton, The Soul Syndicate and the Deep End.
In the mid 2000s, Pemberton toured with one of her musical idols, Linda Tillery.
“I learned a lot from Linda and her group,” Pemberton said. “She is such a great friend and mentor and is someone I hold in high regard and who I always try to be like, in the sense of her musicianship and her excellence. She is such an excellent singer and musician.”
Pemberton, who was nominated for a Western Canadian Music Award in 2011, is currently working on a new album, which she plans to release later this year.
“It’s almost done,” she said. “It’s a mixture of soul and funk. It’s really funky.”
In addition to her career as a musician, Pemberton is also a music teacher in Vancouver. She said that as a teacher she stresses the importance of being curious with music to her students.
“One of the very first things that I teach all of my students is to be curious about music and follow their curiosities,” Pemberton said. “I think once you do that you can become a life long learner and that will fuel your passion if you’re curious.”
Dawn Pemberton performs with the Island Soul Choir and the Patrick Courtin Trio on Sunday (June 8) at the Port Theatre.