Heather Ferguson is making the most of her “second act” — a career in performing and recording jazz music.
Ferguson and her five-piece ensemble will play their repertoire of jazz vocal standards at Parksville’s Knox United Church (345 Pym St.) on June 4. Ferguson has been playing jazz music for over a decade now. She recently released a new single, Cry Me a River.
“I always wanted to sing jazz, but you have to make a living and I didn’t really understand what the portal was,” she said. “I was in non-profit for most of my career.”
After moving to Vancouver Island, Ferguson became involved with the Victoria Conservatory of Music and helped launch the conservatory’s community bands with Joey Smith, who spent two and a half years with the Glenn Miller Orchestra as a bassist and arranger. Smith now plays and tours with Ferguson and her ensemble, including professional musicians Tony Genge, Damian Graham, Miguelito Valdes and Barrie Sorensen.
More recently Ferguson started writing her own compositions, in addition to her repertoire of jazz standards such as Cry Me a River, At Last and Body and Soul. She said her writing is inspired by transformational things in everyday life.
“I’m really interested in how people change and how people transform themselves,” said Ferguson. “Those changeover points where you have this inspiration and you can, if you choose, become something else.”
She plans to release an album this November — the title is to be determined. It will be focused on jazz standards, but she anticipates the album which follows will include some original compositions.
Although she does feel nervous before a show, Ferguson said she learned to channel that energy in her performance.
“My experience of this is that people — they want to see you succeed, so when you go out there, your job is to entertain them. There’s really nothing super difficult here, you just want to spread the love and make people happy.” Before going on stage, she likes to go for a short, gentle run and then some meditation to get into the zone.
Ferguson said she has great memories of visiting the Parksville Qualicum Beach area with family, including taking in the herring run.
“I’ve never forgotten that, that was spectacular.”
She enjoys playing at Hermann’s Jazz Club in Victoria, which Ferguson said is supportive of emerging artists like herself, but also hosts nationally and internationally recognized musicians.
The show begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are $30 and are available through Eventbrite and at local retailers Close To You Boutique and Fireside Books.