Jamie Fraser
More than just a church organist...a total musician.

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A native of Ottawa, Jamie comes from a family that is no stranger to music. One of his cousins is Lise Vachon, a former member of the Montreal-based pop duo Les Alexandrins with Luc Cousineau of later "Vivre en amour" fame. They recorded several albums for Capitol and later Polydor in the late 1960s and early 1970s before splitting up, and several years later Lise recorded an album of her own, Moi, Lise Cousineau, for the Quebec label Le Tamanoir.

After initially taking a Yamaha music course in the early 1970s, Jamie studied classical piano on a one-on-one basis for six years and then switched to pop and jazz in 1979. In high school he played clarinet in the concert band and piano in the stage band. The latter band competed in the national finals of the Canadian Stage Band Festival at the Regal Constellation Hotel in Toronto in 1984, where Jamie was chosen to participate in the All-Star Stage Band as the best pianist of all those that had competed. In this band, which was led by future Calgary Winter Games music director Tommy Banks, Jamie worked with Jeff Healey and Ingrid Jensen (his only time on stage with all three). Performances of this band and all the winners of the Festival were videotaped and edited into a one-shot CTV special, Jazz at the Constellation, which aired nationally in January 1985. (The footage of this show takes up the first 47:11 of this video; Jamie's segment begins at 33:45.)

Inspired by Lise's achievements and encouraged by his own success at the Festival, Jamie decided to make music his profession. While studying music at Humber College in Toronto, he performed as accompanist for a variety of amateur and professional musical theatre productions of shows such as Mame, The Music Man, the David Warrack shows Piper and We Got Love and the Kander & Ebb revue Two by Five. After his return to Ottawa in 1989 Jamie worked in a number of Ottawa-area bands, including Incity Dreams, Soul Review Board, Stone Soul Picnic, Hotter than Ice, Nile Groove and Afrodiction. In this capacity he helped open for noted musicians such as Albert Collins (quite possibly Collins' last appearance in Ottawa before he died) and Rufus Wainwright, and helped provide entertainment for events such as the World Partnership Walk.

Though Jamie has played the organ for a number of Ottawa-area churches and performed background music for a variety of events for many years (including a brief stint as a substitute cocktail pianist at the Penguin Café in Ottawa in the summer of 1985), his primary stylistic focus took another shift in 2001, when his then-girlfriend, a Connecticuter of mixed Ukrainian-German ancestry, introduced him to German pop music through artists such as Juliane Werding, Nicole and Wolfgang Petry; through his friend Ralf Waldvogel he has also become familiar with the music of Kira, Anja Krabbe, AK4711, Rosenstolz, Silke Frost, Herbert Grönemeyer and Wir Sind Helden. His international repertoire has expanded further to include material by Nafsika Gavrilaki, Severina and Kâzım Koyuncu. For live performances involving lyrics in languages he does not speak, he studies the lyrics phonetically.

Though it has been one of Jamie's goals to expose North American audiences to this foreign music, his original material combines elements of pop, jazz and new age, sometimes involving lyrics on unusual subjects. For example, "So Surreal and Yet So Real" is about the relationship between a human and an artificially intelligent chatbot, while "Love in My Heart" is a jazz ballad with lyrics centered on soccer.

Career highlights

Ottawa: 1989-present

Toronto: 1985-1989

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