Mira Choquette is where she belongs, doing what she was meant to do.
Choquette was born in Montreal and grew up on the same street where Leonard Cohen lived, in a neighborhood full of musicians. From one neighbor she got tapes of classic musicals, with which she quickly fell in love. From another neighbor she got a collection of jazz records and discovered that many of the songs from the musicals were on those records, too, in a new and exciting form. She was hooked.
At the age of 18, Choquette was invited to sit in with a local big band and started gigging. That led her friend Joshua Goldman (who plays on and produced her new album, In Reel Time) to tell her she needed to meet pianist and composer Andres Vial, one of Montreal’s premier jazz musicians. Vial challenged Choquette and, in her words, made her a real jazz musician. She started getting jazz gigs around Montreal and listening to the legends of jazz singing. She also recorded an album and appeared on others’ albums.
Despite this early success, Choquette’s upbringing had led her to believe she needed a proper job like lawyer or doctor or engineer, not jazz singer. She went to law school and became a lawyer. She also got married, converted to Orthodox Judaism, and began to feel that her role in the world was to be a conventional wife and mother. Her dream of singing for a living faded further and further into the background.
It was when she left that relationship that she began to rediscover her true self.
Though still a lawyer, Choquette began to focus more and more of her time on music. She relocated from Montreal to Toronto and started getting residencies at jazz clubs. She was in the middle of a month-long residency at the famed Rex club when the pandemic struck and live performances ended. Once again, she could see her dream slipping away.
Instead of accepting defeat, Choquette moved to Mexico, to the coastal town of Puerto Escondido in Oaxaca. She performed at resorts and other outdoor spaces. She also traveled to Mexico City and met musician Emilio Reyna, who introduced her to the inner circle of the Mexico City jazz scene. Her time in Mexico rekindled her faith in her musical ambitions, enough that she decided to move there full-time.
These days Choquette spends a lot of her time traveling to make music. She performs around Mexico and makes regular trips to Canada, as well as to Spain and Italy. (Choquette is bilingual in English and French, conversationally fluent in Spanish, and able to get by in Italian and Portuguese, too.) She just recorded a new album, In Reel Time, with some of Toronto’s finest musicians. The album comes out on May 19, 2023.
It took a while to get here, but Mira Choquette is where she belongs, doing what she was meant to do.