Anderson wrote all of the arrangements for the 18 songs in the program. The show features Shakura S’Aida on vocals and is based on the work of three legendary blues and jazz women: Etta James, Nina Simone and Billie Holiday. The fourth woman is S’Aida, as the second part of the program is entirely her original songs.
It is a blues and jazz score that uses all the resources of the 50-piece orchestra. Anderson worked on the scores for months and the scores and parts were printed in Orillia.
“It is an incredible amount of work,” said Anderson. “The scores and parts stand about a foot high, and keeping everything straight and co-ordinated is the challenge. The payoff is when you hear something that was just in your imagination come to life with wonderful musicians playing the music and a world-class singer bringing them to life.”
“Shakura S’Aida came up with the concept and asked me if I would be a partner with her in the project,” added Anderson.
They plan to perform the show with orchestras across Canada.
Anderson attended the University of Western Ontario for classical theory and composition in the 1970s. His love of orchestral music has never waned, though he is more known as a blues and jazz player, producer, songwriter and Hammond B3 organ virtuoso.
When he lived in Toronto, and later, after moving to Orillia, he was a staff producer at Cherry Beach Sound Studios. On many productions, he wrote orchestral scores for commercial productions as well as television and film scores.
The orchestral music for the World Youth Day/Papal visit, and for the voice of Jamaican pop opera sensation A.J. Brown, are just two projects Anderson scored and produced.
That does not change or affect his love for the blues or N’Orleans piano or The Band.
“To me, there is just two kinds of music — good or bad,” said Anderson. “Good music is created and played from the heart and bad music is something that has no heart in it, done for the wrong reasons.”
Anderson’s eclectic taste extends to classic jazz as well. He co-produced the acclaimed Oscar Peterson Multi Media CD ROM and turned that experience into his two-man show, Oscar Peterson: The Jazz Genius and the Man I Knew, which premiered last year to rave reviews at the Orillia Opera House.
This year, Anderson received the Orillia and District Arts Council’s Achievement in the Arts Award and the Maple Blues Award for Keyboard Player of the Year.