Award-winning producer, songwriter and author Keith (Keef) Whiting has undertaken a new and highly ambitious creative project, launching an all-star 37-member mega-ensemble imaJJine and their debut album, Love Songs & Lullabies — coming this fall.
The larger-than-life creative collective’s first single “Your Voice” — highlighting the stellar sonic talents of Michael Stuart and Brittany Miranda — is available now!
“I’ve always been a big fan of Joni Mitchell,” Whiting shares of the inspiration and muse behind the composition. “‘I was trying to capture the nuances of her voice — like ’a wolf’s mournful howl on a Canadian night’ and ‘a loon’s plaintive calls as it rises in flight.’
“The song started out as random musings, evolved into a poem, and finally into a song.
“If you listen carefully, you’ll hear echoes of her work with Jaco Pastorius,” he continues. “But, ultimately, all you’ll find is a writer at a loss for words to describe her voice!”
Combining jazz, blues, gospel, and a little bit of R&B, imaJJine’s “Your Voice” and Love Songs & Lullabies are set to be the country’s most unique release heard in some time. From the enormously talented 13-year-old Rashita Barua to, now in his eighth decade, Guido Basso, the multi-generational who’s who of Canadian musicians features 37 musicians, singers, and composers across 18 compositions.
In addition to Stuart, Miranda, Barua and Basso, imaJJine also features multi-faceted creative collaboration from Lou Pomanti, Bill King, Russ Little, John Capek, Carlos Del Junco, Rich Brown, Bruce Cassidy, Donald Quan, Tom Szczesniak, Kobenna Harrison, Vito Reza, John Roby, Scott Alexander, Darcy Hepner, Kevin Barrett, Kieran Overs, John Johnson, Bob Cohen, John Alcorn, Gavin Hope, Jackie Richardson, Arlene Duncan, Alisha Oliver, Alex Samaris, Jeremy Tozer, Gabriella Rodgers, Tara Wink, Keith Whiting, Joe Sealy, Pat Sullivan, Jeremy Darby, Matt Snell, and Michael Jack. The production came together at Canterbury Music, Genesis Sound, and The Radio Room.
“The three elements of music are melody, harmony, and rhythm,” says Whiting. “imaJJine brings the best of all three together.”
Whiting and his legacy-building career would know.
“I started as a drummer at age seven,” he recalls. With his first paid gig at age 12, he was off to the races, joining the band Rare Amber at age 15, before moving into engineering at Phillips Records, then production at Decca Records, and teaching the craft in Nigeria, where he also produced the critically acclaimed album, Blo Step 3.
Following a move to Canada in 1975, Whiting’s first production was Gold Certified and dubbed as one of Rolling Stone’s ’50 Top Progressive Rock Albums of All Time’ Black Noise by FM. More albums followed, including works with Marc Jordan, Ken Tobias, Aaron Davis, Doug Riley, Pat Labarbara, Dianne Heatherington, Danny Weis, Jackie Richardson, Professor Longhair, and many leading jazz Artists. He produced classical music albums with Andrew Davis, Julius Baker, Jeanne Baxtresser, Canadian Brass, Bowkun Trio, and Valerie Tryon.
As senior music producer for CBC Radio, Whiting worked with many great international artists including Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Oscar Peterson, Jaco Pastorius, Keith Jarrett, Mel Torme, Pat Metheny, John Scofield, Roberta Flack, The Temptations, Donovan, Robert Palmer, and many others. As a mixer of musical hybrids, he created the JUNO Award-nominated group Kaleefah, fusing African, South American and western music. He co-founded The Gospel Project an eighteen-voice choir that appeared on CBC performing with Billy Preston and Celine Dion.
Whiting’s career accomplishments didn’t slow there; in 1991, he founded KC Records, scoring hits with, “Someone for Me” by Selections, “Go Go Dancer by Christine, and the JUNO Award-nominated album “Listen to the World” by Kaleefah. He is the author of 10 books and four plays, including the musical, “Stride.” The soundtrack album he produced for the musical won “Classic Jazz Album of the Year.”
imaJJine’s Love Songs & Lullabies is set for release early 2020.
“Your Voice” is available now.
Produced with the assistance of The Ontario Arts Council