Cindy McLeod has been performing for over 50 years, first hitting the stage as a child of five in musical theatre productions. "Music has always been a part of my life. My grandfather was a musician who performed with local bands in Calgary, Banff, and Sylvan Lake, where he got his start. My mother plays piano and her brother played trumpet. My father introduced me to the music of Red Nichols and the Five Pennies, Glenn Miller, and many more great bands of the dance era."
Her earliest memories are of her nearly ten years with Calgary Theatre Singers. "They were grand productions, with a full pit orchestra, spectacular sets and stunning costumes. The talent was astounding, with choreographer Margot Gooder (McDermott), director Gordon Gibbs, set designer Lazlo Funtek and Musical Director Elgar Higgin among them. To this day I still smell greasepaint when I set foot in the Jubilee," says Cindy.
She also began dance classes at the tender age of five. She had an opportunity to join a group of 8 dancers known as the Calgary Kidettes, who eventually morphed into the world-class company of Young Canadians, studying various disciplines and performing before tens of thousands of people each year.
Cindy danced through to early adulthood, when life offered an new opportunity. " A group of us were gathered and as ever, guitars appeared and a jam session broke out. We all sang along but at some point, one of the fellows at the party leaned over and asked if I'd consider joining his band." Thus was borne a jazz vocalist, for in less than one month, she hit the local club scene as part of a jazz quintet and became part of the "A List" Band circuit. She' never looked back.
In the mid-80s, a call from Banff band leader Louis Trono kicked off a decade of performing at some of the finest resorts in Western Canada, including the Banff Springs Hotel, Chateau Lake Louise, and at Kananaskis Village, where Cindy was a featured performer during the 1988 Olympics. " These were wonderful times, Louis had a long history with the hotel and drew a fantastic range of admirers from around the world. On several occasions guest performers would join the group for a few weeks, among them trombonist Bob Stroup, trumpeter Bob Day, and Canadian dance band legend, Mart Kenney. It was a true honour to share the stage with these fine musicians."
Cindy settled back in Calgary in 1995, releasing her debut CD, "Easy Living" that same year. The album featured some of the finest musicians in the province, including trombonist Bob Stroup, saxophonist Kent Sangster, trumpeter Bob Tildesley and pianist Brian Buchanan, and received extensive airplay and solid reviews. Her second release, " Ask Me Now", (2002) was an intimate duet album with pianist Buchanan, while "Conversation With Love" (2005), featured drum master Keith Copeland and saxophone great P.J. Perry. A talented lyricist, Cindy has composed lyrics for jazz instrumentals penned by the masters, and in collaborations with composers from Canada, Mexico and Venezuela. Many of these lyrics have made it into her own repertoire. All have served to cement a place for her on the Canadian jazz scene.
Over the years Cindy has performed around the globe, from cruise ship stints to appearing in exotic Vietnam and to warm audiences in Mexico. She's shared the stage with Canadian jazz notables such as Miles Black, Rick Kilburn, Bob Erlendson, Linton Garner, Brian Buchanan, Sandro Dominelli and P.J. Perry, as well as international artists such as Keith Copeland (Frankfurt), Quyen Van Minh (Vietnam), Victor Mestas (Venezuela) and Roberto Aymes (Mexico City), to name a few.
Cindy's credits as a music writer include her Canadian jazz & blues news website, www.jazzelements.com, and contributions to internet-based jazz sources Jazz Review, ejazznews, and Jazz News. The prestigious Canadian Music Institute of the University of Toronto published Cindy’s article featuring Canadian trumpeter Maynard Ferguson (2006).
In 2005, Cindy delved deeply into the blues music scene in Calgary, co-founding the Calgary Blues Music Association (CBMA) and acting as Producer for the Calgary International Blues and Calgary Midwinter Blues Festivals. Her efforts have helped create one of the largest blues music festivals in Western Canada and set Calgary's blues scene on an international stage.
Her commitment to the arts keeps her busy, from producing major concerts in Calgary for jazz vocalists such as Sheila Jordan, Gino Sitson, and Jay Clayton; to helping up-and-coming artists develop their careers, to handling publicity and marketing for various artists and organizations, and contracting her voice over and production services to a variety of groups. She's also a regarded voice clinician.
In 2010, Cindy became the host of CJSW 's weekly radio program, The Blues Witness, which can be heard on Wednesday evenings from 7-8pm at at 90.9FM or online at www.cjsw.com.