Lauren Falls has lots to celebrate.
The Vancouver Island native’s record A Little Louder Now, released in November 2022, is nominated in the Jazz Album of the Year category at the upcoming Juno Awards happening March 13 in Edmonton, Alta.
Nominations were announced Tuesday and Falls, a bassist and composer who currently resides in Toronto, Ont., has already booked her plane ticket to attend the show in person.
“Exciting and, I guess, a little surprising,” Falls told CHEK News, recalling the moment she found out she had been nominated. “I’m pretty happy about it. I haven’t been to Edmonton in a long time, not since I was a kid.”
Actor Simu Liu is hosting this year’s show, which acknowledges Canadian musical artists’ and bands’ achievements in all aspects of music.
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Falls’ first Juno nod follows years of hard work that dates back to her childhood in Port Alberni, where she grew up. Her parents, who still call the Island city home, played a big role in her love for music.
“My parents are still there, they live on Sproat Lake. I went to school there, they were my music teachers, high school band teachers,” said Falls.
“I moved to Toronto right after high school, spent some time at Humber College and then went down to the Manhattan School of Music in New York. I’ve been back in Toronto for, I think, five years.”
Her latest album, which follows 2013’s The Quiet Fight, is “modern jazz, but very melodic and listenable,” she said. “Even if you’re not a huge jazz fan, I tried to make a record that anyone would be happy to listen to and enjoy.”
Ernesto Cervini, Luis Deniz, Rafael Zaldivar and Renee Rosnes are nominated alongside Falls, who’s the only one of the five that’s an independent artist not represented by a music label. But that didn’t stop her from giving it her all.
“I wasn’t sure, you know. I just went for it. Most people who get nominated are with a label,” she said. “I do a lot of my own work. It’s basically another full-time job, apart from making the music, doing all the admin stuff. I do a lot of teaching music and just playing gigs in Toronto mostly, and a little bit of touring.”
Falls has also performed across the pond in Europe and at The Mary Lou Williams Jazz Festival in Washington, D.C., as well as closer to home at international jazz festivals in both Toronto and Ottawa, reads a biography on her website.
Despite her travels, she’s still an islander at heart, adding: “I try to come to visit at least once a year. I was just on the Island around Christmas time.”
Like Falls, singer-songwriter Lauren Spencer-Smith from Nanaimo is also a first-time nominee at this year’s Juno Awards, having racked up two nods for Artist of the Year and TikTok Fan Choice.
“Two Laurens from the Island,” said Falls with a laugh.