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Alumni: Giving U of T more reasons to be proud

Alumni Portraits
Sophie Milman
Current Industry: Entertainment
Bachelor of Commerce (BCom) 2011, Victoria College

Milman is a professional jazz singer who won a Juno award in 2008 for her album Make Someone Happy. But her life turned around at 19 when she was a U of T Commerce student doing some professional gigs as well. Representatives from a record label walked into one of them and offered her a deal.

She told American Jewish Life Magazine that, “It was never a conscious decision” to become a recording artist. “I knew I loved music, that I had a pretty voice – the way kids do sports – but not all of them become an Olympic athlete. As an immigrant kid, I didn’t think that music was an option for me.”

Milman, Russian-born and raised in Israel, has had a meteoric rise through the jazz ranks, headlining Massey Hall in Toronto three times, playing at the Hollywood Bowl, the Kennedy Center, with multiple engagements at the Montreal Jazz Festival as well as the Blue Note clubs in New York and Japan. She also performed at the 100th anniversary of U of T’s Convocation Hall in 2007.

With three albums under her belt and after years of international touring, she returned to U of T to get her degree. “I was constantly asked why school was so important to me. I had lots of gigs coming up, but I really love learning and especially enjoy economics and the social sciences… sometimes I do think: ‘If I could just write papers for a living….’”  Milman won the prestigious Rundle Gold Medal for Commerce upon graduation but missed the ceremony because she was en route to Israel for a tour that day.

Her latest album, recorded weeks after the completion of her degree, In the Moonlight, was met with great enthusiasm by critics and fans alike and had garnered Sophie her 3rd Juno nomination. At 28, she has been hailed as Canada’s hottest young jazz singer by JazzTimes, which compared her vocal stylings to Peggy Lee.

She told the National Post that her musical cravings range from jazz to classic soul and R&B to gospel. She recalled meeting Stevie Wonder, a huge inspiration. “I put my arms around him and blurted that he’s been the soundtrack of my life. And then I just cried.”

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