Adam Bernards & Brandon Choghri
Juno Award nominees were announced on Feb. 7, and Humber’s music program was well represented, with two current Humber faculty members and two alumni being nominated for Canada’s leading annual music prize.
Shirantha Beddage, who earned his Bachelor’s degree from Humber College, now serves as the head of Theory and Harmony in the College’s music department. His latest album Momentum earned him his second consecutive Juno award nomination in the Jazz Album of the Year category. Joining Beddage on the album were fellow Humber faculty members David Restivo, Mike Downes, and Mark Kelso. Momentum is Beddage’s first solo album since 2012’s Identity.
Humber Et Cetera spoke to Beddage about his nomination, and what it means to the program to have such a talented array of faculty and alumni.
“It’s wonderful to be acknowledged like this but it’s just one more reinforcement that we have a great community here, and people get along well. They’re very friendly to each other, very kind to each other, but it’s a collaborative place, and this week is just one reminder of that,” Beddage said.
Although his nomination might be an individual recognition, Beddage added, he gives credit to his colleagues in the Humber Music department.
“I’m very thankful to be acknowledged within this community and within the Junos this week but I also know that there are so many other people in this department who help that ship to run and it’s all one big family,” said Beddage.
Amanda Tosoff, another current Humber faculty member, had her fifth album Words nominated for Vocal Jazz Album of the Year. The album, featuring original lyrics and music by Tosoff, received critical acclaim when it was released in March of 2016 and has earned the teacher her first Juno nomination. In 2007, Tosoff won the CBC Galaxie Rising Star Award, and in 2009 she won the General Motors Grand Prix de Jazz at the Montreal Jazz Festival.
Brandi Disterheft graduated from Humber’s Jazz Music Performance program in 2003, and won her first Juno in 2008. Her latest record, Blue Canvas, is nominated for Jazz Album of the Year, and will face off against Beddage’s Momentum. Disterheft currently resides in New York City, working under the guidance of Miles Davis’ bassist Ron Carter.
Disterheft also spoke about her nomination, and going up against her former classmate, Beddage.
“I’m actually secretly rooting for Shirantha, because I think he deserves it,” said Disterheft.
Disterheft and Beddage are among five nominees for the award. The winner will be announced on April 2 at the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa.