Tara Kannangara is all about insight and experimentation

Vancouver Weekly interview with Tara Kannangara

Coastal Jazz

Hot on the heels of the release of her second album It’s Not Mine Anymore, Juno nominated artist Tara Kannangara played Frankie’s Jazz Club in Vancouver as part of the Vancouver International Jazz Festival this week.

The eleven-day festival began on Friday, June 21 and includes both free and ticketed performances at various locations in and around downtown Vancouver until July 1.

“It always feels like a homecoming when I come back out west,” confesses the B.C. native in an interview with Vancouver Weekly.

Kannangara grew up in Chilliwack and spent much of her childhood participating in various musical programs and lessons.  She enjoyed playing piano, singing in choirs, joining musical theatre groups and playing the trumpet, never thinking it would lead to something more. When she was in high school her band teacher who urged her to continue exploring her musical talents.

“It felt as though she really believed in me,” says Kannangara, “And when someone takes the time to tell you that they believe in you, you take it seriously.”

After studying music at the University of Victoria, Kannangara moved east and enrolled in the University of Toronto in order to pursue her career. She quickly gained recognition for her work, winning both the Julian Award for Excellence in Emerging Canadian artists and the Sting Ray Rising Star Award in 2016. Her debut album, Some Version of the Truth earned a Juno nomination for Best Vocal Jazz Album that same year.

Most often described as an electro-pop jazz artist, Kannangara weaves elements of many different genres and styles into the music she creates. Her willingness to experiment with different sounds corresponds with the musical influences she has experienced throughout her lifetime. She has studied both classical music and jazz as both a trumpeter and vocalist. Over the years, her musical tastes have included everything from Brittany Spears to John Coltrane, and more recently, Charlotte Cornfield.

Kannangara brings an appreciation for the symbiotic relationship between artist and audience during her creative process. She acknowledges that allowing the intent of her expression to evolve as it is perceived by her listeners is a work in progress.

“It’s hard to let go of the music you write,” she admits. “It can feel so precious and it’s easy to worry that a listener will never care for it as much as you will.”

The video for her latest single, “I Made This For You” is a touching montage of personal video footage of herself and her loved ones through the years that she put together using her iPhone. Certainly, Kannangara is an artist who practices what she preaches.  

“Recently, I’ve found that listeners often treat the music with greater respect than the artists,” she confides.

It appears that in her case, the art of letting go is paying off in spades.