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At the Folk Fest Boot Camp Lunch 'n' Learn, fledging songbirds and the musically curious tucked into plates of chana masala while CFMF artistic director Kerry Clarke dialed up Toronto songstress Shakura S'Aida for a Skype chat and a sing-along.
It was a taste – and sound – of things to come at the Calgary Folk Fest: Shakura, a well-know blues/jazz/R&B scorcher, will lead a dozen or so participants in Presenting Your Voice 101, her Folk Boot Camp session at the old National Music Centre site. There, she'll divulge secrets on how to wow a crowd, regardless of your vocal range. “It doesn't matter so much how good a singer you are, it’s how much you feel the lyrics,” she assured the crowd, even those not blessed with pleasing pipes. Part of the secret is putting yourself out there and trusting those you jam with. “You can't become a good showman without working with a whole variety of people, without that net,” she maintained.
Shakura kept the room full of rockstar hopefuls enthralled with tales of her diverse upbringing, from listening to 45’s in her grandmother's New York City brownstone to rocking her glam self as an adolescent in Switzerland (Switzerland!?). “I was a huge Sweet fan,” she admitted. “I used to kick Bay City Rollers fans’ butts!” One suspects that’s where she perfected her dramatic flair.
With a rustling of lyrics sheets and a clearing of throats, Shakura S'Aida went out on a high note by gathering everyone close for a song. “I wanted to do Bat Out of Hell, but Kerry didn't think it would work,” she quipped. Fortunately, Lean on Me worked just fine.
Curious? Sign up for one of six Calgary Folk Festival Boot Camps to be held at the National Music Centre July 24-26.