“My greatest inspiration as a child came from my father's old record collection stored in a box in the fruit cellar. I listened to the music of Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra, Peggy Lee and popular singers like Petula Clark and Dusty Springfield. All of the greats.
While attending the University of Toronto, Irene Atman began her career as a jazz singer as the lead vocalist with the Stan Hiltz Orchestra. One of the greatest things about singing with this big band was that some of the best musicians in the world would sub in - greats like Moe Koffman on flute and sax. I learned a lot from just listening to these guys.
Soon after, as word traveled quickly through the jazz community, Irene was invited to perform with other jazz luminaries like the Boss Brass, Guido Basso and Oscar Peterson alumni, Dave Young and Terry Clarke. Early career highlights included an appearance on the same bill as Tony Bennett and Luciano Pavarotti.
To escape the cold Canadian winters, Atman ventured south to Miami to sing jazz onboard cruise ships sailing the Caribbean. ”Some very cool musicians from the Berkley School of Music were there. It was a great experience to discover world music from the islands” recalls Atman. Continuing to grow and define her personal style, she moved to New Orleans, the birthplace of jazz, to take up a two year stint singing on the historic Delta Queen Riverboat.