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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

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Toronto-based musician challenges listeners

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Noah Zacharin

Multi-award winning singer/songwriter Noah Zacharin began playing guitar at nine, penned his first song at 13, and has been performing since he was 14.

Zacharin’s guitar stylings, singing and songwriting have garnered praise from both fans and music critics. He performs regularly in Toronto, including on the first Thursday of the month at The Winchester, the last Wednesday of the month at the Emmet Ray, and semi-regularly at The Local.

His last solo CD, his sixth, Waiting on Your Love, garnered critical success. He’s currently working with musician Douglas September on his next album, so far untitled, due out in the spring of 2014. It will feature songs he wrote a number of years ago.

September is known for recording electronic sounds, which Zacharin said are wackier than most things he has recorded previously, except for one record he produced at home with a lot of ambient noises.

“I liked him and wanted to work with him and see what would happen,” said Zacharin, who was born in Montreal but now lives in Toronto. “Originally, we were going to do just an EP with three or four tracks, but now it looks like we will have nine. This will have a band and will include newer songs, and songs I wrote a decade ago that just never got released.”

Zacharin comfortably jumps from one musical genre to another including blues, jazz, folk, country, bluegrass and pop. Although it may confuse some listeners, he said it makes what he does less identifiable and a little more challenging for those coming to hear his music, especially his live shows. He tries to create a flow from one song to another, although he admits he’s not above jarring his audiences from time to time.

“When I try to bring all the genres together, I think I can do it because it’s still me singing it,” Zacharin said. “I have always loved all music, I was never focused on any one style of music to the exclusion of others. Although, I probably came to pop music later in my life…sometime in my 20s, I was playing with people, and I needed to have a bigger repertoire, so I started to listen to music I hadn’t listened to before. 



“The guitar is a magnificent instrument of expression in all those genres.  So I do my best to understand the instrument, [to] go where it wants to go.” 

Zacharin hopes that after listening to his music, people will have gone on a little journey and enjoyed the journey quite a lot.

“My lyrics are what are most directly influenced by my life as a Jew,” he said. “I think about God and His creations – human and animal, vegetable and mineral – and the place we all have, relative to each other. With the words, I try to sort all that out in poems and songs.

“Musically, the influence hasn’t been so much on me as an instrumentalist or writer of melody. But as a vocalist, my extensive on-the-job experience leading prayers at the Anshe Minsk Synagogue in Kensington Market has been of great influence.

“Over the past decade, I have learned to sing out, to feel what singing is, to reach for some truth when I do it, to trust that the line of melody will carry what it is. I need to express, whether light or dark. I have also become more grateful to be able to sing. As my mother, bless her heart, once said: ‘The more I meet people who speak, the more I love people who sing.’”

As a guitarist, Zacharin has recorded and performed with Penny Lang, Steve Payne, Danny Marks, Bruce Murdoch, Lucien Francoeur and Rick Fielding, to name a few. In addition to performing and recording with them, he has also collaborated on songwriting with Laura Fernandez and Jeff Barnes.

Last February in Montreal, Jason Levy filmed Zacharin’s performance at the Upstairs Jazz Bar & Grill – the DVD will be released later this year. Also to be released soon is a collection of songs recorded years ago at his home that he recently unearthed.

Zacharin has hosted both radio and live shows, and he’s a published poet. He is currently working on a number of children’s books. Some of his poems were translated into Hebrew by Israeli poet Moshe Dor, and were subsequently published in major newspapers in Israel.

For more information, go to ­noahsong.com.

 

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