Laila Biali says she’s ‘jazz for jazz skeptics’

READ MORE: JazzFest doesn’t miss a beat back from live shows

Biali will perform on June 21 at 7 p.m. with her husband Ben Wittman on drums and George Koller on bass. She says they try to put a friendly face on jazz and she tells stories throughout to give context to the songs.

His show also includes a “request-o-matic”.

“Anyone can request any song they want to hear, there are no restrictions on genre,” she explains. “And from that fun little game, we now have David Bowie songs let’s dance and Coldplay Yellow and Randy Newman and others. So, again, I feel like there’s something for everyone.

Biali is one of Canada’s most accomplished jazz artists and a long-time festival favorite.

She won the Juno Award for Vocal Jazz Album of the Year in 2019 and is nominated multiple times for Juno Awards. She is also the national radio host for CBC Music Saturday Night Jazz, toured with and supported artists like Sting and Suzanne Vega and headlined venues and festivals on five continents.

Following previous Medicine Hat JazzFest shows in the Main Theater and Studio Theater, she will perform on the Esplanade Terrace where all shows will take place this year.

She has fond memories of her previous visits here. She says the festival’s executive and artistic director, Lyle Rebbeck, is one of her favorite people.

“He’s always managed to not only make it world class in terms of the level of musicianship and the level of production, but at the same time, he has such a beautiful sense of community and family.”

She is also a big fan of Station Coffee.

“I have my little frequent flyer card, so I’ll probably go four or five times in two days,” she laughs.

Biali recorded new material in April and will be back in the studio in August. She has singles coming out this year and two albums in the works.

For the full festival schedule, ticket information and more, visit

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