Melinda Whitaker is a Canadian singer and recording artist known for delivering soulful jazz performances. “I sing because I breathe,” laughs Melinda. She is speaking of her life-long love of jazz. Read reviews by Joseph Blake, Gavin Walker and others
Born in Vancouver, British Columbia, Melinda grew up listening to her parents’ big band music and jazz favourites. At age eight she began classical music study and by nine years of age had performed on television. Melinda’s youth was consumed with singing. First performing with the church and school choirs; later with ensembles, bands, and at music festivals. Melinda Whitaker earned a B.A. in English Literature from the University of British Columbia.
Melinda’s professional career started in Edmonton singing her compositions and performing on CBC television with Tommy Banks. During 1970, at time when jazz was exploding on the west coast, Melinda returned to Vancouver to perform with Canada’s jazz giants and session musicians including Fraser McPherson, Oliver Gagnon, Doug Riley, Ted Quinlan and Dave Robbins. She performed six nights a week with The Vancouver “Sympathy” Orchestra, in Gary Taylor’s Show Lounge at the King’s Castle, and recorded for Holger Petersens’s Jazz Radio Canada in the famed Red Barrel Lounge in The Hotel Vancouver.
After several years performing and touring, Melinda branched into studio session work singing commercial jingles on television, radio and film. Her flourishing career is punctuated with CTV and CBC appearances, entertainment specials, and three seasons with The Rene Simard Show where she was a Variety Principal Renette and featured solo artist.
In 1995, Costa Rica became a place for respite. Journeying with her son and husband, the late jazz musician Gerry Caunter, Melinda learned to speak Spanish incorporating the language’s effusive sound into her repertoire. Melinda tours Costa Rica every year.
Melinda has lived her life in song. She has shared the stage with legendary musicians Bryan Adams, Andy Williams, Jose Feliciano, Peter Ustinov, Roger Whittaker, Charo, Wolfman Jack, Andre Gagnon, Shari Lewis, Martin Short and Kenny Loggins. In 2001 Melinda opened for the Ray Brown Trio at the Vancouver International Jazz Festival.
In 2003 Melinda teamed with Miles Black, Tommy Doran, and Rick Kilburn to record The touch of Your Lips. The CD features a collection of joyfully swinging standards and rich textured ballads sung in both English and Spanish.
Melinda makes her home on Vancouver Island where she has performed with the Victoria Symphony Orchestra and at the Victoria JazzFest. She is a member of the Great Ladies of Jazz. As a solo entertainer she performs an extensive du jour jazz repertoire and favourite classics from The Great American Songbook.