The List: 10 things Juno-winning jazz singer Sophie Milman can’t live without
1| My childhood toy
I grew up in Russia when it was hard to get children’s toys. I had one plastic doll, a couple of blocks and this thing—
I call it a hedgehog, but who knows what it actually is. It reminds me of where I came from.
2| My mood elevator
Mel Brooks is the most brilliant man alive. I can’t pick a favourite movie. They’re all good; I even loved Robin Hood: Men in Tights. Comedies now are either really stupid or really mean. Not that Brooks’s movies are the height of intellectual stimuli, but they’re clever and irreverent and I like that.
3| My candy
I’m really into chocolate chips. It’s kind of evil. I used to only like milk chocolate, but dark chocolate is supposed to be better for you, so for health reasons I now eat these (though still in copious quantities—a handful at a time if I’m being bad).
4| My necklace
My grandma passed away when I was 11. When I got engaged a few years ago, my mom gave me my grandma’s wedding ring and we made it into a necklace. I wear it all the time—even to bed and in the shower. It keeps me connected to her.
5| My go-to magazine
I learn more from reading the New Yorker than I do from watching the news or reading daily newspapers. The writing is so good and in-depth. And the cartoons are great comic relief! Unfortunately I’m months behind, but when I go on tour I’ll catch up.
6| My Vicks steamer
My voice is my instrument, and hydration is essential because I’m constantly on planes and in cars. Using this steamer is a ritual before a performance.
7| My theatre fix
Soulpepper is my favourite theatre company. Their shows are better than anything I’ve seen in the U.S. or Russia. Their production of Our Town had me and my mom bawling in our seats. We couldn’t keep the snot in. It was embarrassing, but it just hits you where it hurts. And that’s the most important thing about art.
8| My four-inch heels
I don’t wear stilettos, because I’m into comfort. But my BCBG Max Azria heels are more comfortable than you’d think. I wore them to the Governor General’s dinner with Shimon Peres. They’re also good for dancing onstage.
9| My lit fix
I discovered Kurt Vonnegut when I was a teenager. I was sort of a misfit, into jazz and weird books. There’s a certain rebelliousness in his writing that struck me. I also like David Bezmozgis. When I first read Natasha, about Russian immigrants in Canada, I couldn’t believe how alike our experiences were.
10| My Russian vinyl
I grew up listening to these old Soviet imprints of jazz albums. When I was about seven my dad decided that I was old enough for jazz, and it just became the soundtrack
of my life.