July 28 to 30 | Niagara-on-the-Lake
Growing up with parents from different cultural backgrounds, Brilla found solace in music and artists that she could connect with. “I loved Selena the Mexican-American musician because when I was growing up in Brampton there was no one I could relate to. Anyone I could sort of see myself in was really inspiring,” says Brilla.
Canadian Jazz singer, Alysha Brilla was 14 years old when she picked up a guitar for the first time. Little did she know that ten years later she would sign her first record deal. “People would tell me it would be a diffcult journey and I would roll my eyes at them,” says Brilla, who with her silvery and harmonious voice, is reaching audiences across Canada. Brilla grew up in a musical family.
“When I was young I would watch my dad and uncle playing guitar at family gatherings,” says Brilla. “I remember wanting to play like them.”
Brilla speaks openly regarding the bullying she endured as a young adolescent. “I was picked on because I was different,” says Brilla. “I was an outsider and I had a big gap in my teeth.” Brilla was followed home, insulted, and threatened by her peers. “It was awful. I dropped out of school,” says Brilla, who found writing songs therapeutic as the messages she conveys through her music has carried her through the hard times. After high school Brilla’s mom took a bit of a tough love approach. “My mom said I couldn’t just sit around and work on music. I had to get a job or go to school,” she recalls. “I applied for music production and jazz school.” With limited experience and knowledge in jazz, Brilla decided to give it a try. “I had not studied music before. I got there and discovered a bunch of artists I love like Dyna Washington, Sara Vonn, Ella Fitzgerald, and Louis Armstrong,” says Brilla.
After her first record deal, Brilla decided to start her own production company, Sunny Jam Records. “I built up my career using the help of grants and generous fans who wanted to support my music,” says Brilla. “This has given me the opportunity to be where I am now.” With four albums under her belt, Brilla is grateful to be pursuing her passion. “I love being surrounded by music and meeting people from around the world. That is a blessing,” says Brilla, who is humbled by the effect her music and shows have on fans and audience members. “When I talk to people after my shows, we talk about vulnerable and deep things they may not talk about with others,” she says. “It creates a comfortable space to connect with others.” Brilla has a musical sound that will resonate with novice listeners and long time jazz fans.
Her playful and rich sound creates a refreshing mix of old and new styles. “In my voice you will hear Amy Winehouse, Ella Fitzgerald, and my Indian background,” she says. Brilla has a unique outlook on music in the 21st century.
“We borrow things we have heard from music,” she says. “I am influenced by a lot of different music. You will hear theme selections in my voice.”
Brilla’s shows are guaranteed to be an uplifting experience. “My band has amazing energy and the whole point of the show is to make people happy,” she says. “At the end of the show people always tell me they feel joyful.” On July 22, 2018, The TD Niagara Jazz Festival hosts Brilla in her first appearance to the Niagara Region at the World Music on the Beach at Lakeside Park in Port Dalhousie.
“We are excited to welcome the lovely and talented Alysha Brilla along with many other jazz musicians from different cultures at this free event which is open to the whole community,” says Juliet Dunn, Executive Director of the TD Niagara Jazz Festival. “World music has a direct connection to the roots of jazz music, so it is a natural expansion for our festival,” says Dunn, who is extremely grateful for the generous support from sponsors: TD Bank Group, the City of St. Catharines, the Province of Ontario, the Niagara Region, and the Tourism Partnership of Niagara. “I have always felt I can get across more from writing music than I can from spoken word,” says Brilla. With thoughtful lyrics and an upbeat and unique jazz sound, Alysha Brilla will inspire positivity in all who listen to her music.