Up Close and Personal with Gabi Epstein

The Toronto-born singer sits down with us for an exclusive interview.

Published: June 14th 2011
in Culture » Music


This past weekend I had the opportunity to listen to up-and-comer Gabi Epstein croon to the soothing sounds of a jazz piano. It was my first cabaret show, and, frankly, it was exactly what I expected. Epstein was clad in a white flapper-style dress. The light shone on her in a dim candlelit room with an intimate audience collectively feeling captivated by her incredible voice.


Epstein’s resume entails worldly travels, the completion of a Bachelor’s degree within two years at McGill University in Montreal, and a knack for landing some highly coveted positions in her field.


Before her show I had a chance to chat with her about her beginnings, her music and what's on her iPod.




Where did you grow up?


I am born and raised in Toronto. I sort of grew up in the North York part of Toronto and I now live in the Annex. I went to school in Montreal so I was away for those couple of years.


I read on your website that you finished you Bachelor’s degree in two years. How does someone finish a degree in two years? That’s really impressive!


Well I was originally in a program that was a concurrent music and education program, which was a double degree program that I intended to fast-track, like I was determined to finish my two degrees done in four years. I had some background in theory so I placed into some higher courses to begin with [but] then I decided not to complete the education portion, and just focused on the music portion. It was crazy but, then I was done in two years.


What a great opportunity to be done your education so quickly and be able to start pursuing your dreams at such a young age. How old were you?


I was 20 years old when I finished school.


Wow, and how old are you now?


I’m 26.


So you've been doing this for six years and from what I understand you’ve been performing all over the world?


It’s been great, it took me about a year after I graduated to land my first professional show [but] after that it’s been pretty consistent and awesome. I’ve had the opportunity to travel a lot, and people are casting me a lot. It’s been great; I’ve been really lucky. Especially because I’m not a strong dancer so I wouldn’t be cast in a tap show, but I’ve been really lucky because I’ve had the chance to play in a few really interesting roles. 


I read up on a couple of them and I have to know, given that you’re so involved in the performing arts, why not NYC or Chicago? Why come back to Toronto?


Well firstly this is where I grew up and there’s something to be said about just wanting be to home. It’s a little bit difficult to, the process to going to New York and going to there, wanting to stay there for awhile is a bit of a difficult process. If I wasn’t working at all here, it would be easier to say ‘I’m going to drop everything and then go to New york!'


I have been lucky in the work that I’ve been getting here but don’t get me wrong New York is still in the cards, and I’ve had some great auditions down there. At some point in the future I’d love to move there, if a show was presented to me then I’d consider going there. I’d love to move there at some point -- just try it out and to say I did it.  


In your profession there needs to be a willingness to follow the opportunities no matter where they take you. That being said, what are some of your favourite travel destinations? Where could you most see yourself living and working?


The islands that we went to on the Disney cruises were pretty fancy. Disney has its own private island, and that wasn’t half bad. It was great having the opportunity to be on this cruise and be away for a year seeing all these great places [and] just to be performing while I’m doing that was really exciting, but it was nice to come back here and continue working in Toronto.


What’s a typical day in the life of Gabi Epstein?


Related articles: (Gabi Epstein, cabaret, jazz music, Toronto musicians)
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