Elvis attends presentation of PhD to Diana Krall; Krall sings
song co-written with Costello; they have written 6 new songs for her
Times Colonist, 2003-11-14
- Kim Westad
|Darren Stone, Times Colonist / Elvis Costello sits with Diana
Krall's father Jim Krall at UVic Wednesday.
|Jazz singer Diana Krall performs at convocation
ceremonies at the University of Victoria Wednesday. Krall, a native
of Nanaimo, was given an honorary doctorate of fine arts. “It
wasn’t about singing some sultry, sexy tune,” she said.
“It was about home.”
CREDIT: Darren Stone, Times Colonist
Tears flow as Krall sings of her home
UVic honours star with arts doctorate
Becoming Dr. Diana Krall was far more nerve-wracking than playing
Carnegie Hall, the Nanaimo-born jazz singer said Wednesday after receiving
an honorary doctorate in fine arts from the University of Victoria.
"It's a lot more difficult than a performance," Krall said
in a later interview. "It wasn't about getting up there and singing
some sexy, sultry tune. It wasn't about that. It was about home."
Krall, in the traditional black-and-red gown and beefeater hat -- it
looks like something from Harry Potter -- that doctors of fine arts
wear, mouthed "I'm nervous" to university president David
Turpin as she was about to be given her degree.
But any nerves appeared gone when the Grammy- and Juno-Award winning
songwriter sat down behind a sleek black Steinway on the stage.
The beeps from digital cameras in the audience were steady as the lights
dimmed and Krall played a piano solo, The Gravy Waltz, written by one
of her favourite teachers, jazz bassist Ray Brown.
But it was her second and final song, from a new album and a song that
she's never performed in public before, that had some in the packed
University Centre auditorium crying.
The deeply personal Departure Bay refers to many Vancouver
Island landmarks -- the Malahat, the ferry, sea planes, salt air and
sawmills -- as well as to her mother who died of cancer, and to her
fiancé, Elvis Costello, with whom she wrote the song.
"I was on the fence about doing this new tune. I thought, 'Can
I go through with it?' because it's very emotional," said Krall.
After her performance, Krall, her ears a bit plugged from a cold, had
photos taken in her grad gown with her family, and drank iced tea.
Costello, a longtime icon on the music scene, sat midway up the auditorium
with Krall's family during the ceremony. The 49-year-old singer-songwriter
was one of the last to stop clapping as the green cape denoting a doctorate
was draped over his fiancee's shoulders.
"A degree from this university is particularly special to her,"
said the gap-toothed Brit who has visited Vancouver Island with Krall
before. Krall's mother Adella, who died in May 2002 of cancer, earned
her education degree from UVic.
"I love being here. People have made me very welcome. They leave
us be, you know," Costello said.
In Departure Bay, Krall sings, "Who knew when I started that I'd
find love and bring him home."
Krall, 38, has a home on Vancouver Island that she's trying to keep
private. And she's thrilled with her recent purchase of a piece by the
late First Nations artist Bill Reid. She's learning about Canadian and
First Nations art; her only jewelry Wednesday was a thick silver Haida
bracelet -- and an engagement ring with a diamond solitaire so large
it made the band look dainty.
She and Costello wrote six songs together for the new album,
a record she says deals a lot with "love, loss and hope."
"It's nice to write about home. It is quite lovely to step back
from it and then come back," Krall said.
She's had a "bit of a tough year-and-a-half, with a lot of loss."
Her mother, singer and friend Rosemary Clooney and Ray Brown all died
within six weeks of each other.
"I think this album is mostly about the things that keep us on
the straight and narrow," said Krall, who calls it a "personal
portrait of where I am now."
Coming home is a key part of that, she said. She and Costello try to
live a regular life here, she said, although the two left right after
the ceremony so Costello could do several TV appearances in Los Angeles,
including Jay Leno on Friday night.
"We go to Thriftys and buy groceries," she said. "I
like to be at my place and wear my boots. It's about family and being
in a place where I grew up and am comfortable . . . . I really love
it and soak it up when I come here."
Krall didn't attend university, but left home at 17 on a music scholarship
and then learned from some of the top jazz musicians, slowly building
her career. She said she's still learning.
© Copyright 2003 Times Colonist (Victoria)