Braun is back home, at last

Father's death sparked a rebirth for singer

Town Crier
May 11, 2009
Lorianna De Giorgio

Some people have it. Some don't.

Adi Braun definitely has it, if that "it" you're referring to is a joie de vivre personality you admire and secretly wished you possessed.

The classical-turned-jazz singer is upbeat at even three in the afternoon, when most people would be dozing off if it weren't for a jolt of sugar, or a cup of joe.

But it's not caffeine that fuels Braun.

It's her career.

Or more accurately returning to her first love.

As the daughter of opera singers, Victor and Eraine Braun, she and her brothers grew up surrounded by musicians.

From an early age, her father instilled in his children a love of music, taking them to many of the operatic baritone's performances. And that was all fine and dandy.

However, all the while Braun secretly harboured a love for pop and jazz tunes.

"I was a huge, huge ABBA fan," says Braun, who would belt out pop songs when she was alone.

Yet she and her brothers followed a career in classical music, eventually touring the world with several Canadian opera companies.

Braun was successful, but not happy.

"I was too uptight with classical music," recalls Braun late last month over drinks in her equally upbeat living room, which doubles as her music studio.

"I wasn't as free as I would have liked to have been, plus I had a really good rhythmic and improvisational talent that I couldn't use in classical singing."

All that changed in 2001.

Her father died in January. That year also marked a rebirth of sorts for the University of Toronto-trained Braun, as she finally -- in a professional capacity at least -- turned her attention toward jazz.

"There was sort of an expectation or a wish that you would get a good solid foundation (with classical music)," Braun says of her upbringing. "And I'm really not sorry it happened that way even though it took me a little bit longer to get to where I am today."

Where she is today is also partly thanks to her partner of 20 years, Linda Ippolito, who entered Braun in an amateur singing contest early into her jazz career.

Braun won the contest, saying the win gave her her old courage back.

"My father passed away at the very beginning of 2001 and that's a very catalytic shift in any person's life," Braun says. "And somehow it coincided with the need to free myself of my own shackles, of not being happy in classical music not because I didn't love it, but because it didn't express me well."

Friends tell her she sounds more relaxed with jazz. And in general she feels more at peace with herself, says Braun, who performs at the Toronto Downtown Jazz Festival in June.

Her newfound success has led to the release of three self-produced albums, including the 2008, Adi Braun -- Live at the Metropolitan Room.

When she's not travelling around Ontario or heading to New York City to perform in one of the Big Apple's many jazz clubs, Braun is perfectly happy at home composing original standards, and living the domestic life with Ippolito, and their two Persians, Felix and Fanny.

She casts her career net even further with Blue Rider Musical Productions, a classical cabaret company Ippolito and Braun run out of their St. Clair and Oakwood area home.

And classical music isn't entirely forgotten. Braun teaches the importance of having a base in classical music to her voice students at her home studio.

And in turn, her students who range in age from seven to 50-years-old, further fuel the songstress' magnetic personality.