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Montreal-based, Vancouver-raised Jennifer Gasoi wins first Grammy Award

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LOS ANGELES, Calif. - When Canadian Jennifer Gasoi was announced as a winner during the Grammy Awards pre-telecast Sunday, a cheering section in the subdued Nokia Theater whooped and applauded.

It's notable only because the afternoon ceremony — at which 72 awards were handed out ahead of the splashier evening ceremony — tends to be a rather muted affair, but the response delighted Gasoi.

"My parents and my sister are here, (but also) a whole bunch of friends I've met through the Grammy process were there," beamed Gasoi backstage. "A lot of people really loved the album and really wanted to support me so it was pretty cool to hear the cheers. ... I've been making a lot of connections and trying to connect with great musicians in L.A. and all over the world.

"That's one of my goals."

Of course, another one was scratched off Gasoi's list when she won best children's album for her second record "Throw a Penny in the Wishing Well" on Sunday.

Onstage, the Montreal-based, Vancouver-raised musician gushed over the honour.

"Oh my God. I've dreamt of this day for 20 years. It's on my vision board," Gasoi said. "I'm officially the fist Canadian to ever win a Grammy for best children's album."

When she came back to face the predominantly international media, one journalist asked whether Canada really had such a rich history of children's music.

"Some of the best children's musicians come out of Canada," Gasoi replied. "Raffi and Fred Penner and Sharon, Lois and Bram. So it's a huge deal (and) a huge honour to be the first children's winner."

The two-time Juno Award nominee is not merely a children's entertainer but a jazz musician who studied the genre for 15 years and still plays jazz bars and cabarets.

"Throw a Penny in the Wishing Well" incorporates elements of gospel, swing, bluegrass, calypso, doo wop and klezmer, a range of influences Gasoi said Sunday owed in part to her homebase: "Living in Montreal, it's a real melting pot of cultures so I've integrated a lot of that into the music."

Ultimately, her goal has been to engage not just tots but their parents as well.

"Bringing in jazz elements and world elements into my music, that seemed to be a winning combination," said Gasoi, who said she's already started work on her next record. "Kids and parents seemed to really dig my music and we took it from there.

"But my goal is always to create music that's of world-class calibre, that could stand up to any genre, not just the children's genre."

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