In 2020, Olivia Van Goor formed an unexpected friendship through social media.
The metro Detroit jazz vocalist stumbled upon Caity Gyorgy’s infectious single “Postage Due” and contacted the Canadian jazz singer about including the track in her songbook.
“I couldn’t believe it wasn’t a standard … she was kind enough to send me her music, and so I added that song among others to my repertoire,” Van Goor said.
“It’s important to me to not only keep the tradition alive by doing standards but to introduce my audience to other composers, especially females and especially vocalists. We have never performed together—in fact, we’ve never even met in person.”
That circumstance will quickly change with Van Goor and Gyorgy co-hosting a June 3 duet show at Grosse Pointe Unitarian Church (GPUC) in Grosse Pointe, Michigan.
“Caity reached out a couple of months ago while planning her shows in the U.S. this summer. She proposed a duo show in the Detroit area, and when possible venues fell through for me, I had to figure out how to do it myself,” said Van Goor, who’s producing the show.
“Scott Gwinnell, who is playing the gig with us, recommended the GPUC, and I think it is a fabulous choice. I enjoy so much about her music, but my favorite thing about it is her fresh nod to standards in a very bebopish way. Not a lot of vocalists are doing that, and I am all about that!”
To learn more about her upcoming concert with Gyorgy, I recently spoke with Van Goor about the show’s setlist, collaborators and ticketing options and inquired about her latest single and plans for new material.
June 3 Duet Show with Caity Gyorgy
Q: What do you and Caity Gyorgy have planned for your June 3 duet show? What will it be like to share the stage with bandmates Scott Gwinnell (piano), Samuel Chase Harris (bass) and Dave Zwolinski (drums)?
A: We have a wonderful variety planned for the show. We will actually be performing most of the show together! I wrote most of the charts and some of the songs we were able to improvise what we will be doing. It will be a variety of Caity’s originals and standards.
I know Scott, Sam and Dave are the perfect guys for the job because they are so reliable, especially with a vocalist they haven’t met yet. I trust them so much, and they understand me well enough to know exactly what I am going for. Also, about a year ago Sam joked, “Man, if Caity ever played a show in Detroit and needed a bassist, I have all of her songs memorized.”
Q: You’re offering VIP tickets for the show, which includes front-row seats, an afterglow meet and greet, photos, a CD signing, and food and drinks. Why did you decide to offer a premium ticket option? What do you hope fans will take away from it?
A: Currently, there is only one VIP ticket left! As for why we are offering it, the answer is twofold. It first came about because I am self-producing the show and needed a premium way to pay off the expenses. Caity was open to the afterglow, and I figured a lot of people would want the opportunity. I was right! Plenty of general admission [tickets] are still available, and you can get 10 percent off a GA ticket with code STRATTONSETLIST.
Over the Rainbow and Don’t Be Mad at Me?
Q: You recently released a new rendition of “Over the Rainbow.” Why did you decide to record the Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg-penned track? What was it like to record that track with Josh Ford at the Sound Shop Recording Studio in Macomb, Michigan?
A: This tune was always a very intimidating one that I admittedly put off learning. Of course, I “knew” the tune, but as far as the process I go through when I formally learn a song and understand it, I had always felt resistance to do so.
Even when I was asked if I knew it, I would say no! I didn’t want to do it the same way everyone else did it. So, as it goes, I was in the car or the shower or the bed (I don’t remember!), and the idea came to me of how to arrange it. Once I tried my arrangement live, the feedback especially encouraged me to add it to my recording.
I always have a great time working with Josh at the Sound Shop, and he helps me by letting me do my thing and setting up a wonderful environment to make music in!
Q: How did Adam Mosley (piano), Samuel Chase Harris (bass) and Dave Zwolinski (drums) help you create such a stunning version of “Over the Rainbow?”
A: These guys know how to make music feel good. Some might think too technically with my arrangement (all I did was go from a fast three to a slow four feel), but they don’t think narrowly. They let the music breathe and create a very steady base for me to sing over. They really made it a delightful recording.
Q: How does your rendition of “Over the Rainbow” also help set the tone for your upcoming album Don’t Be Mad at Me? How does the new album compare thematically and sonically to your 2021 debut EP When the Shadows Fall?
A: My sophomore album Don’t Be Mad at Me? is a culmination of some of my favorite tunes I sang in 2022, plus two originals. The lyrics come from the second single “Shulie-A-Bop” set to release June 2. I really love this phrase because it sets a more mature and confident tone. I interpret it as “Don’t blame me for what happens in your life.”
As the years have passed, I have been successful in this career, and unfortunately, I have dealt with some backlash. I think some people punch up and try to tear down others to make themselves feel good. Don’t Be Mad at Me? is saying, “I am successful, confident, happy and authentically me. Don’t be mad at that just because you aren’t happy with yourself.”
I will also have a third single, an original called “Sweetness,” in early July with the album out on Aug. 4. There will be an album release show at the Blue LLama Jazz Club [in Ann Arbor, Michigan] on Aug. 4.
Olivia Van Goor & Caity Gyorgy: 2 Young Jazz Vocalists Together in Concert
Friday, June 3 | Doors 6:30 p.m. & Show 7 p.m.
Grosse Pointe Unitarian Church, 17150 Maumee Ave. in Grosse Pointe, Michigan
Tickets: $25-$40, 10 percent off general admission tickets with code STRATTONSETLIST