Cano at the soul of music

Singer performs in multiple languages.

If you have ever dreamed of traveling to the Andes or to Machu Picchu, you may not have to venture much farther than your own front yard.

Drawing on her Peruvian heritage and her experiences in Canada, France, Brazil and beyond, the rich soulful voice of Patricia Cano will take you on a tour of the world.

Cano’s music is based in traditional rhythms – Peruvian, Brazilian, afro-Peruvian, afro-Brazilian – that are mixed with fusion and jazz.

“It’s like soul meets jazz meets blues and it just so happens to be in different languages,” said the singer-song-writer, whose languages include English, French, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese.

Cano was born in Sudbury, Ont. and grew up in the Francophone community there. From an early age, it was clear that she was particularly good at languages. She studied Italian in high school and learned Portuguese in university.

Cano started on stage as a dancer and landed in theatre after studying theatre and Spanish literature at the University of Toronto.

It was through acting that her singing career was launched.

“I always sang. I just never thought of it as a career choice,” explained Cano.

“At times, they would ask me to sing something or score something vocally because I was musical. And then one fed the other,” she said.

Cano has worked extensively with Canadian playwright Tomson Highway, a Cree writer and composer.

“Tomson Highway kept asking me to sing his music. I thought, ‘Oh well, yeah sure.’ And then by saying ‘yes,’ I travelled a lot, sang a lot. And as the years went by, I began to believe it and get better, and improve and to write,” said Cano.

She worked for four years with Le Théâtre du Soleil in Paris, France on the music stage, then as a comedienne and finally as a singer. It was there that theatre director Ariane Mnouchkine sent her to Seoul, South Korea to study traditional Korean singing with a voice master.

“She just opened something up in me. She literally gave me a breath into my voice,” said Cano.

Cano returned to the Americas, spending six months in Brazil, befriending musicians in the local jazz scene.

She began writing her own music and her first album, This is the New World, was recorded in 2009 with songs in four different languages.

People often ask Cano how she chooses what language to write her songs in.

“I don’t choose the language it really just comes,” she explained.

“Whether it’s a melody that comes to my mind first or whether I’ve written, the text or a poem or a thought or an idea or a nice phrase that sounds good. In whatever language for whatever reason on that day, then the song just becomes itself,” said the artist, who is currently working on a new album.

But she doesn’t want people to fear seeing her show because they think they will not understand. Cano speaks to her audience and says it will be an evening with exceptional musicians and conversation.

“You might hear languages that you don’t understand, but you will understand the soul of this music.”

• Cano will be performing on Sunday at the ACT in Maple Ridge, at 11944 Haney Place.

The show starts at 7:30 p.m. and tickets are $32 for adults, $28 for seniors and $15 for those 24 and under.

Fore more information call 604-476-2787 or go to theactmapleridge.org.