Jazz singer Coco Love Alcorn is touring again after a self-imposed five-year sabbatical spent raising her young daughter in the small Ontario city of Owen Sound.
During that break from regular touring, Alcorn taught herself to use an audio looping device, which allowed her to record segments of her own voice multiple times and layer them to create choral arrangements. It was through this new process that she wrote the songs for her latest album, last year’s Wonderland.
“I’ve been realizing lately that I don’t think this album would have come if I had just kept touring and touring and touring,” she said.
“It was just taking a break to focus on being a mom and just that sort of shift in myself, that’s part of where these songs came from. I feel like I tried to write songs that were a bit, somehow, more simple but also more deep.”
Alcorn was surprised to find that people were already connecting with her new music before the album had been recorded. In 2014 she released a video of herself singing an a cappella version of her gospel-influenced song The River, which drew the attention of choir groups who began posting their own renditions. Se said the response was encouraging.
“There was just this feeling that the songs were already gathering energy and that energy came into the studio with me,” she said.
Since the album’s release in September, 2016 Alcorn has been back on the road, sometimes performing a few numbers with local choir groups. She said, “It’s kind of like having 80 backup singers.”
“It’s been amazing, I mean every choir has a slightly different take on it… Sometimes my reaction is just this joyful giddiness, sometimes it gets sentimental and I hear the first few bars and almost start crying,” Alcorn said.
On Nov. 18 Alcorn will appear at Nanaimo’s Bethlehem Centre. She said she’ll be hosting a workshop with the local Island Soul Choir during the day, but unfortunately the 140-person ensemble won’t be able to fit on stage at the venue in the evening, “But I think a lot of them are coming to the concert and will be singing along and adding their voices throughout the night,” Alcorn added.
Her tour is called An Invitation to Sing and she said audience members can expect some group singing opportunities.
“It’s a moment that we all share,” she said.
“We can all sing together and that’s something that’s been happening for thousands of years through human history, people getting together and singing. It just feels pretty cool.”
WHAT’S ON … Coco Love Alcorn performs at the Bethlehem Centre on Saturday, Nov 18. Doors open at 7 p.m., show begins at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door.