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Canadian Heritage

Kevin Laliberte


KEVIN LALIBERTE (guitarist, composer) was born on February 2, 1964 in Guelph, Ontario, Canada. The Toronto-based guitarist performs frequently as a solo act supporting artists including Julie Michels, Amanda Martinez, Melissa Boyce, Katie Griffin, and Peter Smith, as well as violinist Chris McKhool. Laliberte’s co-founder of the multiple award-winning gypsy-jazz-flamenco fusion band ‘Sultans of Swing’. He appeared on Jay Leno’s Tonight Show backing singer Charlotte Church, toured Japan and Canada with Jesse Cook and The Chieftains, and performed in Beijing, China with recording artist Dadawa.

Growing up in a musical family, Laliberte began taking music lessons on the banjo-ukele when he was eight years old, moving on to tenor banjo a year later, and not long later, the guitar. He played in high school rock bands in the 1980s, at the same time as he continued studying music with Stratford guitarist and teacher Earl Filsinger. Hearing a Pat Metheny recording ignited his passion for jazz, which would become his future musical focus. Although he began studying toward a degree in Electrical Engineering in 1985, he continued to pursue the study of jazz harmony and composition with Toronto guitarist James Pett. Attending jazz workshops led by legendary bebop pianist Barry Harris led to an appearance by Laliberte in an instructional video of Harris' unique approach to jazz harmony. He performed in jazz clubs in Vancouver and Toronto in the 1990s, backing vocalists and as part of a duo with saxophonist Peter Smith.

It was in 1995 when he was seeking a new sound that he began playing the challenging nylon-string guitar, exploring ways of integrating his beloved music of Spain into his own sound. In 1997, Laliberte began a two-year collaboration with Canadian flamenco guitarist Roger Scannura and his dance company, ‘Ritmo Flamenco’. touring and recording with him, and performing in concert throughout Ontario. He joined EMI recording artist/guitarist Jesse Cook’s band in 1999. During the same period, he also began a more concentrated exploration of his own musical voice, turning his attention to composition. The first result was the independently-produced "Elation" CD, which “melds flamenco rhythms, a jazz improvisational approach, and a pop melodic sensibility”. In 2005, "Elation" was licensed by Somerset Entertainment, and packaged as part of a 2-disc set entitled "Spanish Café". Sales in Canada surpassed 10,000 units in just four months.

Kevin Laliberte was a member of the Peter Smith Quartet when they performed during the “Sound of Toronto Jazz” Concert Series at the Ontario Science Centre on November 1, 1999.


2006 - Toronto Independent Music Awards Nominee (with ‘Sultans of String’) as ‘Best Instrumental Band’

2007 – Recipient (with ‘Sultans of String’) of the Musique de la Monde Award

2007 - Canadian Folk Music Award Nominee (with ‘Sultans of String’)

2007 – ‘Best Song’ Winner (with ‘Sultans of String’) at the Ontario Independent Music Awards

2007 - Ontario Independent Music Award Winner (with ‘Sultans of String’) for ‘Best Instrumental’

2007 – Named ‘Best Latin Jazz Group’ (with ‘Sultans of String’) at the Toronto Exclusive Magazine Awards

2007 - Toronto Independent Music Award Nominee (with ‘Sultans of String’) in the ‘World Music’ Category

2008 – Finalist (with ‘Sultans of String’) in the Canadian Independent Music Awards

2008 – Finalist (with ‘Sultans of String’) in the International Independent Music Awards


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