THE SHORT STORY
With a voice described as "soaring," "supernal" and "singular," Peter Campbell has been performing for over thirty years. From cabaret appearances with fellow young performers from the worlds of theater, film and television, Peter went on to work in commercial jingles and to cabaret performances from New York to New England and the Midwest. He has performed throughout Toronto and has released two recordings since relocating to Canada from his native New York City in 2012. His 2017 release, Loving You: Celebrating Shirley Horn, has received critical acclaim both in Canada and internationally. The album garnered inclusion on several lists of the top jazz recordings of 2017 and was nominated for a 2018 Independent Music Award as Jazz Vocal Album of the year. 2020 will commence with the release of Old Flames Never Die, Peter's contemporary take on the traditional pop/jazz torch album. He had the good fortune to study voice for many years with Joyce McLean of the Juilliard School. Peter holds a B.A. in Art History from McGill University, Montreal, Canada and an M.A. in the History of Design and Curatorial Studies from Parsons the New School for Design and Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.
THE LONG STORY
There are two kinds of music. Good music, and the other kind.
Duke Ellington’s remark resonates with Peter Campbell and his approach to repertoire and musical exploration. Peter has worked in any number of musical genres: from folk and art song to jazz, Tin Pan Alley and musical theatre. He welcomes the wealth, diversity and integrity of popular song, in whichever form it appears.
In a culture accustomed to almost obligatory branding, Peter classifies his sound as “traditional pop.” Highlighting the fundamental importance of the voice and harmonic complexity of music predating the advent of rock and roll, traditional pop may encompass a multitude of influences, including Peter’s two most important sources of vocal inspiration: folk singer Judy Collins and the late jazz singer and pianist Shirley Horn. For Peter, Ms. Collins emphasizes the natural purity of the voice; Ms. Horn was one of the great lyric interpreters of her generation.
Peter Campbell was born to a Canadian mother and an American father and spent his formative years in Manhattan. Extended stays in Nova Scotia and Ontario during holidays and summer months solidified his dual cultural identity. Coming by his creative talents honestly, Peter grew up in and around the entertainment industry in New York. He is a descendant of Canadian Confederation poet William Wilfred Campbell. His paternal grandfather was Juilliard graduate Charles Lichter, a noted American orchestral conductor and violinist; for many years on staff at Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS); a member of the Ed Sullivan Orchestra; and producer and arranger for conductor André Kostelanetz. His grandmother was a vocal recitalist and accompanist; his aunt, a flutist and faculty member of The Juilliard School; and his father, a broadcast producer who trained as a clarinetist at New York’s High School of Music & Art.
Through the proverbial audition process, eleven-year-old Peter was selected from over 100 hopefuls to perform in a weekly cabaret series at Something Different, a well-known New York venue featuring “Young Stars” from the theatre and film communities. Honing his performance skills for over a year, Peter had the opportunity to perform alongside other young aspiring talents Ricki Lake (Hairspray) and Deborah Gibson (Foolish Beat).
Following graduation from McGill University in Montreal, Canada with a B.A. in Art History, Peter returned to New York City. Early exposure to the recording process enabled him to participate in production demos and commercial jingles for clients such as Amnesty International, Aramis, Bausch & Lomb, Book-of-the-Month Club and Burger King. Peter appeared at many of New York City’s top cabaret venues, including Eighty Eight’s and Don’t Tell Mama. He was the opening act for Tony Award winner Melba Moore at Cabaret at the DeSisto Estate, Stockbridge, Massachusetts and performed a sold-out concert celebrating the work of composer Stephen Sondheim at the Cain Park Cabaret Series, Cleveland Heights, Ohio.
As the millennium approached, Peter decided to pursue his interest in design history, enrolling in the Masters program in the History of Design and Curatorial Studies, a joint venture between Parsons the New School for Design and Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. His graduate work culminated in the publication of Birth of the Cool: The Image of Jazz on Record in the 1950s. His thesis united his diverse academic interests in the studies of graphic design, material culture, visual language and music history. In addition, Peter contributed to the centennial publication Eye of The Beholder: Masterpieces from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. For several years following graduate school, Peter served as a guest lecturer in architectural history at Parsons, with a specialization in the history of Italian Renaissance and Baroque architecture and modern architecture of New York City.
Despite his foray into the world of academia, Peter’s passion for the performing arts was ever present. In 2006, he had the pleasure of recording an album of standards featuring veteran musicians Lee Musiker (Tony Bennett, Barbara Cook), Chip Jackson (Billy Taylor, Elvin Jones) and Gene Bertoncini (Nancy Wilson, Lena Horne). The recording was both a personal and musical milestone for Peter and showcased the work of songwriters including Antônio Carlos Jobim, Jacques Brel, Stephen Sondheim and Jimmy Webb.
It was Peter’s good fortune and great pleasure to study voice for many years with Joyce McLean of The Juilliard School. He previously coached with the late Paul Trueblood, musical director for Michael Feinstein and Marianne Faithfull and pianist for lyricist Alan Jay Lerner. In Toronto, Peter works with friend and voice teacher Alan Reid.
Since relocating to Canada in 2012, Peter has appeared at venues throughout Toronto and as part of both the TD Toronto Jazz Festival and Oakville's West End Jazz Series. Street of Tears, a recording produced and co-arranged by Peter - featuring Mark Kieswetter, Reg Schwager, Ross MacIntyre, Daniel Barnes and Alan Hetherington - was released in November 2014 with a performance at Toronto's Jazz Bistro.
Dedicated to the work of legendary jazz vocalist and pianist Shirley Horn, Loving You: Celebrating Shirley Horn features Mark Kieswetter, Reg Schwager, Ross MacIntyre and Kevin Turcotte. Recorded at Toronto's Canterbury Music Company by John "Beetle" Bailey, it was released in April 2017 to stellar reviews and radio rotation in Canada, the United States and abroad. Loving You was nominated for a 2018 Independent Music Award as Jazz Vocal Album of the year. In addition, All About Jazz included Loving You in its list of top 25 jazz albums of 2017.
2020 will commence with the release of Old Flames Never Die, Peter's contemporary take on the traditional torch album. Recorded at Canterbury Music Company by John "Beetle" Bailey, the album features Adrean Farrugia, Reg Schwager, Ross MacIntyre, Kevin Turcotte and Michael Occhipinti.
Peter resides in Toronto and Massachusetts.