Journey before destination: greetings from BJP's new Executive Director Shana Barbour

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about trajectory. With my recent warm welcome into the BJP Music Foundation community and my new role as Executive Director, I wonder what forces were at play to help me end up here? As I watch my two emerging adults (twins, 21 years old this month) consider what they want to be when they “grow up”, I can only imagine what life has in store for them, and naturally begin to reflect upon my own professional journey, and decisions made over a very rich lifetime so far. 

BJP ED Shana Barbour

As a young person, I don’t recall having a clear path or really knowing what I wanted to do as an occupation. My earliest memory of this was when I was 5 years old, convinced I wanted to be a bus driver. I’m not entirely sure why, but the memory is still quite clear in my mind’s eye. A high school aptitude test suggested I be a flight attendant because I liked working with people and travelling. Instead, I took a year of Business Administration in college upon the recommendation of my dad, but soon realized that was not my path. With a somewhat creative nature, I shifted to a diploma course in Interior Design, and while I loved the creative outlet, I realized that wasn’t quite it either. Finally, after enjoying a particularly riveting criminology course, and with my young, somewhat naïve outlook, I realized I was going to change the world by helping people and went on to complete a Sociology degree. From there, I spent the next 10 years working in different capacities for Hull Services, providing support to children, youth and families, and learning about community development. As my introduction into the non-profit sector, I knew this was how I was going to spend my life. Then, enter burnout, stage right! 

After needing a change from the toll that such emotional front-line work can bring, I decided I wanted to save not only people, but apparently the world, and embarked on a master’s degree in Sustainable Development. The next almost decade of my life was spent working with the Friends of Fish Creek Provincial Park Society, a small but mighty all hands-on deck volunteer organization, where I had many incredible opportunities to learn the ins and outs of non-profit work. I was fortunate to be involved in everything from volunteer and program management, Human Resources, fund development, occupational health and safety, managing teams, building critical collaborative partnerships with donors, partners and sponsors, and working with all levels of government on comprehensive ecological projects. Then in 2022, I began working for the Alexandra Community Health Centre as a grant writer in their Fund Development department, securing funding to ensure the front-line teams can do what they do best: provide critical healthcare, mental health, social and housing support to Calgary’s most vulnerable citizens. Graciously, they have allowed me to remain with them part-time so I can again stretch my wings and become part of the BJP Music Foundation. 

But what does any of this have to do with jazz or the arts? 

Well, nothing, really.  And if I were to look back on my early life, there is little chance I would have expected that I would end up where I am. There are inherent trade-offs between having a solid plan for your life and following it diligently, versus being open and embracing new, unique and unexpected opportunities that come your way. The two aren’t mutually exclusive, although I do believe there is a special kind of creativity and magic that happens in the latter. It’s of course a balance between the two and that balance is also reflected in the work we do.  So much of the magic happens organically because of beautiful connections and relationships that develop along the way and that could not have been anticipated. That’s a big part of the wave we need to ride. 

It may sound clichéd, but it’s the journey, not the end point, right? So, the trajectory towards and end goal is important, but it is driven by what we learn along the way. One of the most important things I’ve learned about myself throughout this journey is that I am driven wholeheartedly by my values, including lifelong learning and being involved in important work that makes even a little corner of the world a better place.  I have learned that community is an important common denominator in every part of the voluntary sector: we build it, we support it, we depend on it. So, whether it’s helping people, supporting the environment, or bringing attention to the arts, I’m grateful to be part of it. And I am grateful knowing that the richness of experience and understanding I’ve developed throughout my time in the voluntary sector will be of service to the BJP Music Foundation.   

So, back to trajectory. When I think back to my first awareness of BuckingJam Palace, the group had just formed. It’s incredible to see how far they have come in just a few short years.  As so often is the case with grassroots organizations, they are driven by sheer passion, grit, tenacity and a deeply embedded belief in the importance of their work. Where we are today is a testament to the former and current board members and volunteers who have paved the way. From what I can see, the trajectory has been steadily upwards. And with the support of our community, the sky is the limit! 

On behalf of the incredible Board of Directors of the BJP Music Foundation, I express my most sincere gratitude to the Calgary Foundation for the financial support provided to help launch us into the next phase of growth and development. I am thrilled and honoured to be part of such trailblazing work, with some of the most passionate and heartfelt people I have had the great fortune to meet.  

And thank you to Lisa, Jodi, Tiro, Céline, Janice, AJ and Graham for the warm welcome and their faith in me. I have no doubt that we are on the path to great things together. 

How to access advance tickets using your BJP website membership

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An Evening of Music at BJP with Ellen Doty

By Ellen Doty

Having grown up on an acreage near Okotoks, Alberta, many people ask me how I became interested in jazz in the first place. Jazz music was largely passed down to me through my family. On my mother’s side, her father was a trumpet player, and was also a radio host for CKUA Radio back in the 50’s when it used to be located on the University of Alberta campus. He had a large collection of jazz and classical records, and was just a big music fan. I think he certainly inspired a love for music in my mother, who in turn passed that on to me. On my father’s side, his mother lived across the street from Nat King Cole in Los Angeles. My grandparents grew up during the heyday of jazz. On the weekends, they used to go out swing dancing at the Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles to see legends like Benny Goodman, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Gene Krupa, and of course, Nat King Cole himself.

My mother was a choir director and organist for a church in Okotoks, and my father also sang in the choir, so naturally, I began singing at an early age as well. My first official performance was at my grade 1 talent show where I sang and played “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” from the Lion King. I took vocal lessons, guitar lessons, and piano lessons growing up, and also played alto sax followed by french horn in band. I did a few performances singing with our high school jazz band, but really, I didn’t start digging into vocal jazz more seriously until University. I was headed off to Carleton University in Ottawa to play on the basketball team there, and saw that they had a jazz program, so I decided to audition. Little did I know that it would more or less start me on the path to where I am now.

Through school clinics, and my own initiative, I’ve had the opportunity to study with many fine jazz musicians including Sheila Jordan, Robert White (Juilliard), Jay Clayton, Maria Schneider, Dave Mancini, and many more. While my music certainly has roots in jazz, my own song-writing certainly combines a variety of influences from jazz to pop to soul to folk to indie and more.

My most recent album, Come Fall was released in March of 2018 and debuted at #1 on the iTunes jazz charts, which was very exciting. It has 12 original songs on it, and features only voice, drums, and piano. No bass, no background vocals, no horns, no production, and no layers. It’s very simple, and I think, leaves a lot of room for the music to breathe.

I’m really looking forward to our performance at BuckingJam Palace on February 28th! My last show in Calgary was at National Music Centre in Studio Bell, so this will be a much more intimate affair. I hope that you will feel comfortable enough to ask any questions you may have about my music, writing process, or whatever your little hearts desire to know about.

This show will be different from my record in that I will actually be playing with bass! Murray Wood will be joining us on upright bass. Murray studied jazz at McGill, and is a fantastic player (side note, he also plays electric bass in a great indie rock band called Scenic Route to Alaska). On piano, we will be joined by Devin Hart. Devin teaches music at Grant MacEwan University in Edmonton, and also performs regularly with Juno-nominated Nuela Charles. We will be performing several original songs from my new album (and a few tunes from previous albums), as well as a few re-imagined standards. We are going to try a few tunes that I have never performed before, including a fun one originally recorded by Nina Simone (I can’t give too much away here).

I’m looking forward to sharing an evening of music with all of you! Cheers!

Learn more about Ellen Doty on her official website here.

Tickets for Ellen's show at BJP are sold out, but you can joint the waitlist here.


Video: BMC Organ Trio live at BuckingJam Palace!

We were blown away by the BMC Organ Trio last night. Here's a quick video of the action from our Facebook page.

Concert Announcement: André Wickenheiser! Coming to BJP March 15, 2019

André Wickenheiser is coming to BJP!

Meet The Band

Calgary jazz trumpeter, André Wickenheiser, is proud to present the release of his newest album A Happy Little Accident at Buckingjam Palace. Featuring all original compositions by André, and backed by a stellar band. This will be an unforgettable night of great new music!

Ticket price includes a copy of the new album.

André Wickenheiser – Trumpet/Flugelhorn
Carsten Rubeling – Trombone
Mark DeJong – Tenor Saxophone
Jon Day – Piano
Jason Valleau – Bass
Jon May – Drums

Learn more and get your tickets here!