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He’s got jazz singing under his skin

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Neil Keep, a native of Fort Garry, has always stayed close to his roots.

His singing career began at his alma mater, Vincent Massey Collegiate, where he participated in the band program and performed in a variety of musicals.

After graduation, he started doing music in church. He clearly remembers being introduced to the sound of Harry Connick, Jr. and deciding that Connick’s laid back, throwback sound was his style of music. From 1991 on, Keep dedicated himself to learning the crooner language, style, and voice. According to Google, a crooner is "a single vocalist, usually male, singing soft jazz, typically popular songs."

Keep’s music career has given him the opportunity to do many kinds of shows. When his friends were getting married, he sang a lot at churches and at weddings.

"I have been singing for every kind of event from weddings to funerals," he says.

He continued doing that while developing his career as a vocalist. With experience he moved to solo shows.

"Marketing happened all by word of mouth."

In 2004, Keep did a few performances with the Ron Paley Big Band and still does duo shows with pianist Paley, mostly at retirement residences. Last year he did 140 shows —  93 of which were for seniors.

Keep also sings with four bands. He regularly works with the Merv Mauthe Quintet (and also as a duo with Mauthe). He sings with Ricky Bogart & the New Casbah Band and also with The BMW (Bavarian Musik Werks). These bands are all dance and event bands, so the winter holiday season usually fins him especially busy.

Keep’s fourth band is The InClines: Sweet Dreams of Patsy Cline — a touring tribute show.
"I do back-ups with my sister Karen, as the InClines," Keep says. They will tour to Alberta in November.

Laughing, Keep says, "ask me what my day jobs are!"

When he’s not singing, he is a graphic designer and drywall taper filling in the cracks when the gig offers are slow.

Helen Lepp Friesen is a community correspondent for Fort Garry. You can contact her at helenfriesen@hotmail.com

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