Relishing freedom to experiment

Jane Siberry

Jane Siberry

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When Jane Siberry appeared at the Memorial Hall in Sheffield 10 years ago, she suggested fans pay whatever they thought appropriate for her albums.

The Canadian singer-songwriter writes her own rules when it comes to selling her music and performing it.

Over three-and-a-half decades and 20 CDs, Siberry has crafted a reputation as one of contemporary music’s most creative voices, one with echoes of folk, pop and jazz, but essentially one of emotional depth that defies simple categorisation.

Her solo career stretches back to a debut self-financed album that followed a grounding as a guitar and piano-based folk artist in the clubs and coffee houses of Toronto where she also worked as a waitress.

At one time there was a deal with a major label, a couple of hits with Mimi On the Beach and Calling All Angels featuring fellow Canadian singer-songwriter k.d. lang.

But Siberry was never one for convention. She set up her own record label, Sheeba, before taking a radically different direction, auctioning nearly all her possessions (keeping a guitar for performances), changing her name to Issa and focusing on playing small venues in Europe, including fans’ homes.

Retaining a cult following, Siberry is back in the UK, touring under her own name again, and appearing at The Greystones tomorrow (Friday).

From those early days in Toronto, her portfolio has grown to encompass songs for film and TV projects, books of poems and artwork.

She has collaborated on records with artists such as Peter Gabriel, Nigel Kennedy, Indigo Girls and Joe Jackson.

Jane Siberry has always followed her own creative and idiosyncratic path.

After studying music at university in Ontario, she switched to microbiology for her degree.

She is certainly not afraid to experiment.