Here is my most recent review for my performance with the Burnaby Symphony Orchestra
Symphony season opens on funky note
By Wanda Chow - Burnaby NewsLeader
Published: October 01, 2008 11:00 AM
Updated: October 01, 2008 11:33 AM
Vocalist Jayleen Stonehouse has her day job to thank for her latest gig, as guest artist with the Burnaby Symphony Orchestra.
"I do their books," she said with a laugh.
When the 47-year-old owner of Bluejay Bookkeeping met the symphony's musical director Leonard Camplin, she mentioned she's been singing professionally for 35 years. After he heard one of her CDs, he invited her to perform.
On Oct. 7 she'll do just that, performing four songs at the BSO's season-opening pops concert.
While the Vancouver resident has been performing for years, she has no formal training.
It all started when her mother put her in the church choir at age four. By age six she was singing solos and at nine, she started training herself by listening to records and singing the melodies repeatedly until they were pitch-perfect. Then she'd move onto the harmonies on the records before making up her own.
Stonehouse joined her first band at 14 then, at 17, she jumped at a chance to pursue her dream of a singing career: she quit school and started touring with a band, Silver Lock, across Canada.
It was not a happy occasion for her "very religious" family, she said.
Nevertheless, it was an exciting time for the teenager.
"They had to escort me in and out of the bars and clubs because I was too young."
Amid criss-crossing the country as a professional singer—performing progressive rock in the '70s and then new wave in the early '80s—she fortunately did find time to get her high school equivalency at age 23.
That's because a few years later, she became a single mom with two kids.
"I had no choice but to make sure there was a lot more money coming in than was coming in."
So she went to college, earning a diploma in business administration, which allowed her to start her bookkeeping company.
By night, whenever possible, she'd pursue her singing career. She's a semi-regular at the Yale, Fairview, Comox and Rusty Gull and recently fit in gigs at the River Rock Casino and the Burnaby Firefighters Hall.
Stonehouse describes her music as a cross between funk, jazz, blues and rhythm and blues. Her influences include Etta James, James Brown and Tower of Power.
Along with performing covers, she now also writes her own material, despite her lack of musical training. She taught herself to play guitar at 14, she explained, and now she uses a digital piano to replicate different instruments when she records her own CDs.
This will be her first time playing with an orchestra with real instruments, just as she hears them in her head when she's composing.
She'll be singing two of her own songs, Ode to You, about her best friend who passed away when Stonehouse was 28, and St. Peter's at Your Door, a love song. She'll follow that with I Don't Know How To Love Him from Jesus Christ Superstar and the Beatles' She's Leaving Home.
As for her parents, Stonehouse said they're supportive now that they see how much music has been a part of her life.
"It's no longer just a passing fad."
Meanwhile, the BSO's Leonard Camplin is happy the symphony will now call the James Cowan Theatre home. Along with rehearsal space, the venue will allow them to store equipment there instead of having to lug them from theatre to theatre.
With about 300 seats it's also about half the size of its former Burnaby venue, Michael J. Fox Theatre, meaning there's a better chance they'll see packed houses, making the concerts more exciting and appealing for both musicians and audience.
The opening concert of the season takes place Tuesday, Oct. 7 at 8 p.m. For tickets or more information call 604.205.3000 or visit www.burnabysymphony.com.
For more on Jayleen Stonehouse, visit www.jayleen-stonehouse.4t.com.