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Christmas Past – Windamere Darjeeling
... has appeared in the smash hit series of 'Only Fools and Horses' (as Vonny, the sexy stripper and snake charmer) and 'New Tricks' (as 'Carole', one of the many ex-wives of the actor, Dennis Waterman). Her West End Stage credits range from Ray Cooney's famous farces: 'Two into One' (as Jenny Bristow) and 'See How They Run' (as Ida). Carolyn is a very well known Music Theatre performer; her credits range from 'Joseph and His Amazing Technicolour Dream Coat'; 'Les Miserables' (as Madam Thenardier); 'Pirates of Penzance' at the Drury Lane Theatre (as Edith) and in Opera Della Luna's production of 'HMS Pinafore' (as Hebe).
Whether singing opera, sending up the latter or launching into musical comedy, her style is extremely engaging, enticing, romantic and most of all, highly entertaining!
...on the other hand, Paul began his career playing for cabaret acts all over Europe and America. Musical direction, musical arrangement and conducting are all part of his portfolio. In 'Opera Tottie', he is a most willing accomplice in the thrust and banter of the show.
He has been very busy working in the West End Theatre District as a Musical Director ("MD") for such shows as: 'Godspell'; 'Stop the World I Want to Get Off'; 'Oklahoma'; 'Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead at the National Theatre' and 'Paint Your Wagon'.
Paul has also enjoyed three wonderful years working with the famous 'Danny La Rue', in the capacity of MD for both live stage and television performances, as well as MD for 'Ronnie Corbett' and 'Anthony' Newly.
He has conducted concerts for many other famous stage and television personalities too numerous to name and he is also very highly regarded for his specialisation in Victorian Music Hall, where for the past fifteen years, he has been playing regularly at the 'The Players Theatre', London.
Vocalist | Songwriter | Actress | Dancer
Andromeda's professional career started with Ray Charles as a background vocalist or "Raelette". During her time with the Ray Charles Orchestra she was promoted to vocal director and arranger while performing as the lead Raelette. After working with Mr. Charles, Andromeda was hired as the lead vocalist for the J.C. Hopkins Biggish Band where she sang jazz standards and J. C.'s Grammy award-winning original tunes from New York to LA. She also acted as ''Rose'' in J. C.'s play "Rose does Rico".
Andromeda went on to star in Woody Allen's "Murder Mystery Blues" at the Midtown Theater in New York in which she was acting, singing, dancing and playing the piano during the show. Andromeda's studio credits include several commercials, background vocals / songwriting / producing on several albums and featured vocals on the film score for Cafe and Tobacco, which won a Moondance International Film Festival Award.
An international success, Andromeda has performed across America, the Caribbean, Europe and Asia. She was featured as the "Queen of the Blues" singing with the Jazz Big Band at Tokyo Disney in Japan for 14 months. While there she recorded her debut album "Introducing Andromeda Turre" which was up for a 2008 Grammy for Best Vocal Jazz Album. The self-produced album contains four original songs and several jazz classics all arranged by Ms.Turre.
Andromeda has formal training in Vocal Performance / Music Business from Berklee College of Music, Theater from the Boston Conservatory and Dance from Alvin Ailey and Dance Theater of Harlem. She also studied piano and composition with Sonelius Smith and voice with Marni Nixon.
After a successful tour in Italy, Andromeda is looking forward to performing there again this fall.
And here are some key press quotes about Andromeda:
"dangerously attractive... soulful voice" - New York Times
Singer | Songwriter | Pianist | Arranger | Producer
Los Angeles Music Award Best Male
Justis Kao blends the sounds of Pop, R&B, Gospel, Jazz and Funk to create music that inspires the soul. He won Best Male Singer/Songwriter for the 2006 Los Angeles Music Awards. Justis is currently working on writing for his full-length debut album due out later this year.
"I write because I want to express through music what I often don't know how to soy. Music is the one thing that transcends all racial, ethnic, cultural and language barriers. As a singer and songwriter, I hope that my voice and music might be able to encourage others to live life full of dreams and passion that would inspire this generation ."
Originally from Toronto, Canada, Justis graduated with a degree in Contemporary Writing & Production from Berklee College of Music in Boston. Trained as a classical pianist but influenced by the sounds of Gospel, Jazz and Rhythm & Blues, Justis' music has been likened to the sounds of Brion McKnight, Stevie Wonder, and Babyface. In January 2008, Justis was invited to sing at the New Baptist Covenant Celebration held at the Georgia World Congress Center with President Jimmy Corter & President Bill Clinton.
"Justis Kao is a wonderful musician who
has multi-faceted skills: he's
a fine vocalist, songwriter and a keyboardist who creates
intricate figures and interesting harmonies
that compliment his silky, mellifluous voice"
Born and raised in France in a multi-ethnic family rooted in Africa, Asia and Europe, Trebeka derives her innate musicality and unique talent from an extraordinary fusion in herself of the aesthetic impulses of the East, the West, and Africa. To share joy and to give happiness through song, was her birthright. Her grandfather, a man of letters, was drawn to all forms of artistic human expression. Her Cameroonian father is a guitarist and vocalist. Her French mother graced the professional dance stage for twenty years. Her brother is a tour manager and her cousins are music producers and performers.
Trebeka first came to prominence in Paris when she was just eighteen, appearing regularly with her own ensemble in the city’s jazz clubs and music festivals. She worked with established stars including Catherine Lara, Pascal Obisco, Cheb Mami, Manu Dibango. Along the way she discovered that she also had the great gift of song writing. It did not take long before Warner, very impressed, awarded her a four year publishing contract.
In 2003, Trebeka moved to London, set up her own jazz band there with the best musicians in town, and began her flight to the stars. She has jammed on stage with Kenny Garrett (Miles Davis), and found the time earlier this year, to record and release her first album 'Willow Weep For Me' with famous Grammy award winner, producer and musician Lonnie Plaxico (Cassandra Wilson, Jack Dejohnette, Dizzy Gillespie...) and the Lonnie Plaxico Group in New York city.Ladies and Gentlemen: Trebeka.
Piano & Hammond Organ
French born and child of a musical family, Philippe Petit inherited a gift for music that was discovered and nurtured very early in his life. By the age of twenty he was already playing professional Acoustic Piano and Hammond Organ with equal proficiency.
Internationally renowned as a Piano and Hammond Organ player, Philippe Petit travelled the world entertaining audiences with his own band "Mister Hyde". He also appeared as side man for other artists, both on stage, TV or in intimate Jazz Clubs.
In 1977 Philippe made a move to Paris and worked at the 'Barclay’s Studio' as a pianist and composer, which led to various artistic collaborations with the French musical mainstream.
In 1980 he met French saxophonist Francis Bourrec with whom he toured until 1987 – they performed in popular Jazz Clubs both in France and abroad and also the major French Festivals (Jazz aux Ulis, Printemps de Bourges, Salon de la Musique,etc...)
Philippe Petit worked with French and International artists like Sylvain Beuf, Jean-Claude Fohrenbach and singer Claire-Lise Vincent with whom he toured internationally ( appearing in jazz clubs & festivals: Jazz en Essone, Jazz Valley and in 1990 the "Memphis in May Festival" in Memphis Tenessee (USA); also with Arnett Cobb (US), Bud Shank (US), Benny Bailey (US) to name but a few...
In 1993, his meeting with guitarist Gilles Clément and drummer Éric Dervieu led to many concerts in France and abroad for major Festivals like 'Jeunesses Musicales', 'Festival of Clermont Ferrand ‘,'Jazz a Vienne', 'Montreux Festiva' ..etc.. Around this time, Philippe decided to focus more on the Hammond Organ and played with Eric Alexander, Houston Person, Marc Fosset, André Villeger,etc... and also participated in several competitions: "Ruées vers l'Orgue" (Hammond Battles) with Stephan Patry and Rhoda Scott.
In 1999, he founded his own Band 'Mister Hyde' and performed concerts with them at two famous Paris Jazz Clubs - 'Petit Opportun' and 'New Morning'. Philippe joined the 'Boogaloo Baby Band' in 2002, and brought to it his own warm, funky and percussive style. Since then Philippe has toured the world from Senegal to Mauritania, Gambia, Peru, Chile, Bolivia, Argentina, spreading his wonderful music for the world to hear.
Windamere is proud to welcome Philippe Petit -
Mr. Glenn Amer
To hear him, whether for the first time or the tenth, is to know that the music critic had it exactly right when he said that Glenn had "the hands of Liberace and the voice of Mario Lanza". High praise indeed!
Glenn is a major headline entertainer on posh cruise lines including the Royal Caribbean, Radisson, Silver, Celebrity, Crystal, Norwegian, Orient, Holland America, NHK, Saga and Seabourne. With them, he has sailed to Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Noumea, Hawaii, Samoa, Fiji, Japan, China, Tahiti, The Cook Islands, Kiribati, New Zealand, Norfolk Island, and all Australia. Talk about the music of love at Bali Ha'i under tropic skies in the far South Pacific! Talk about starlit nights at the ends of the earth beyond Down Under! Eat your heart out, James Michener.
Born in Sydney, Australia, Glenn studied at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music between 1986 and 1993, and is a pianist, singer, operatic/choral conductor and organist. He also studied composition, clarinet and horn. At the age of thirteen, he was invited to London to study with, and participate in the studios of Geoffrey Parsons (piano) and Erich Vietheer (voice).
Glenn’s repertoire encompasses a variety of styles - he is equally at home playing a major Bach organ or a popular work by Burt Bacharach. He has also appeared in the jazz world with renowned diva, Su Cruickshank and popular violinist Ian Cooper.
Glenn recently recorded his fourth CD for EMI with the Three Irish Tenors and has made other recordings at the Sony Music Studios, including two Japanese music albums. His latest eagerly awaited solo album, "A Personal Collection", has just been released to rave reviews.
Ladies and Gentlemen! Please welcome Mr. Glenn Amer!
Diane was the FEATURED HOUSE ARTISTE at the Burj-al-Arab Hotel in 2006 and also a guest performer at the Emirates Palace for H.H. Sheik Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktum in 2005.
Diane's unique musical style resounds with her intense love of life, her seductive relationship with the arts and the polished professionalism that flows from formal musical studies – all elements of her personal dedication to music and entertaining. Diane's sultry songs are a rich mélange of classic jazz and innovative, modern melodies and harmonies. Diane's formal education included work with Canadian jazz gurus Mohammed Abdul Al Kabbyr, Charles Ellison and Dave Turner en route to a Jazz Studies degree in Fine Arts from Montreal's Concordia University.
As a musical performer, she's performed big band, funk and musical theatre; her talents include trombone, piano, voice and song writing. Diane was also one of the producers on her album Pure and Simple. When asked what was her most memorable performance experience Diane replied "It would have to be when I performed for our troops in the Middle East just before the war broke out in 2003".
As an actress, she has starred in film and television productions with Eddie Murphy; Stephen Baldwin, Wayne Brady and with famed Canadian comics, Colin Mochrie and Patrick McKenna. Along with several television commercials she has also performed on radio and television voice-overs productions.
Her career as a commercial model has allowed her to be seen by many as her face has represented the Canadian Mortgage Corporation, Ontario Tourism, Loeb the Ottawa Tulip Festival, the Ontario Lottery Corporation, McCain French Fries and Speak Easy among other well respected companies.
Diane has an unquenchable thirst for diversity - savouring the classic style of Billie Holiday, the sassy tones of Sarah Vaughn and the funky sounds of Horace Silver. Diane's innate ability to make innovations that resonate with the jazz tradition is one of the secrets of her successful career. By popular demand, her ubiquitous tones have been heard at The People's Palace in Bucharest, Romania, Ottawa and Montreal International Jazz Festivals, clubs and events in New York City, and a long term residency at the world-famous Burj Al Arab Hotel in Dubai UAE.
Originally, Diane was cut out to be a classical pianist but along the way, she found the trombone. The trombone did not offer the same avenues for development in classical music as the piano; on the other hand, it was an instrument that seemed to have been made for jazz. Diane developed a passion for this musical art form, and eventually graduated with a Jazz degree. You may ask what the trombone has to do with Jazz Singing? She found her jazz voice fairly late, with a quality and style she never knew she had! From this point on, there was no stopping her racing down the path of Jazz performance that allowed her natural skills to flow and take form.
Diane can't wait to meet our guests at the Windamere and to present her own story of "THE ROARING '20s, THE GAY '30s, AND ALL THAT JAZZ! Her accompanist is that most accomplished of musicians, Lance Anderson.
As a player, he is widely known and respected for his wide knowledge and enthusiasm for the tradition of Jazz and Blues, and "My N'Orleans" style of piano playing. Lance is also very proud of the fact that he is one of a handful of players left in the world who is an expert with the 'Hammond B3 organ' - he described it as an ability to play the bass with both feet, while "comping" with his left hand, whilst filling in with his right hand and singing - all at the same time! Quite a feat!
Lance is a successful producer, with recording credits such as 'Leahy' (double 'Juno Award' (Canada), Platinum Virgin Music recording artists) and a number of recent recordings under his own label, 'Make It Real' Records include the internationally acclaimed '2B3 the Toronto Sessions, Live at the Wolf' by Garth Hudson ('TheBand'), 'My Regeneration' by the 'Prima Donnas', and 'All Play and No Work' by 'The Cameo Blues Band'.
Lance also initiated and co-produced the 'Oscar Peterson Multimedia CD ROM', now treasured by jazz fans and players worldwide.
In addition to his work as a producer and keyboard player, Lance has an extensive credit list of original compositions and arrangements for TV, film and orchestra. His 'Maple Blues' nominated solo piano CD, 'Shorthanded' showcases his talents as a Blues piano artist and his latest recording 'Footwork' by 'Anderson/ Sloski', features his virtuoso playing on the Hammond B3 organ.
Lance toured Canada in 2005 as the Musical Director for the international recording artist 'Roger Whittaker' and spent many years touring as keyboardist with the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) children's icon 'Mr. Dress-up' (a very well-known television personality in children's' programming)
In 2002, Lance produced and arranged the theme for the 'World Youth Day' and the mass for the Papal visit to Toronto.
He continues to be in demand for Festival appearances, either with 'Anderson/ Sloski' or 'The All Star Tribute to Ray Charles', which he formed at the 'Orillia Spring Blues Festival' (Canada) in2005, - the latter was also was a highlight of this year's famous 'Mariposa Festival' (Canada)
His "claims to fame" range from:
A wonderful theatrical career was foreshadowed in 1977 after his much praised portrayal of 'Moritz' in 'Spring Awakening', a student production at Essex University where James was studying for a Master Degree in Theatre.
The Student director of this production was the 18 year old Nick Dear later to be an award winning author for both the Royal Shakespeare Company and B.B.C. television. In his first job 'Ice Station Zero' the director was none other than the renowned British actress Sue Johnson!
Coming to London to play Jimmy in Mahagonny with Dagma Krause and the musical director Jason Osborn.
In later work with Avon Touring Company, he appeared in productions directed by Tim Albery, now renowned for his opera direction at Covent Garden and a recent Ring Cycle. Parts included, 'Guardiano' in 'Women beware Women', and 'Richard II' at the Edinburgh Festival.
After playing 'Peter' in 'Jesus Christ Superstar' and understudying 'Joseph' in 'Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat', he played Heir Schlick in a sumptuous revival of Noel Coward's 'Bitter Sweet' with an International caste.
Other appearances in musicals include 'Scudder' in a production of 'Barnum' with Michael Crawford which opened the Manchester Opera House again as a theatre and played for six months before coming in to the West End. James learned to walk the tightrope, ride the unicycle and juggle.
Moving on to film he appeared with Sean Connery, in the film 'Sword of the Valliant'.
In London again as Gerhart Eisler in 'Berlin Days Hollywood Nights'.
On BBC TV he played 'Johan Johan' in the 'All The World's a Stage', in an episode featuring Jeremy Irons as Hamlet.
James Radio credits include, 'Wilfred' in 'Wilfred and Eileen' (Saturday Night Theatre), Adam in 'An Empty Glass' and 'Samarin' in Lord Ted Willis' series 'The Buckingham Palace Connection' which also featured Noel Coward's old friend Joyce Carey!
He has written an acclaimed play for Beryl Reid broadcast on Radio 3.
James is an award winning poet and tours with a group of actor poets called 'The Poetry Show' and recently appeared with them at The Old Operating Theatre, The Poetry Society, and was invited to perform at Glastonbury this summer, where he was also billed alongside the poet Carol Ann Duffy for his one man show on Derek Jarman.
Angela was born in Yorkshire, started playing the piano aged seven and studied with a protegé of the great Solomon.
Early on she participated in many 'Victoriana' evenings playing Liszt, Chopin and Brahms Hungarian Dances for two pianos four hands with her teacher.
She has been everything from a Church Organist to a Dance Band pianist!
Whilst in Yorkshire she played in and was deputy MD for the Musical 'Pickwick' starring Adam Faith and Dennis Brandt.
Coming to London she has held residencies from the Medeival Banqueting Hall, St. Martin's Lane to Londonderry Hotel, Park Lane.
MD for a new musical written by Peter Sander and Bill Owen, the well loved star of 'Last of the Summer Wine'.
She was a co-founder of the famous cabaret group 'The Sadista Sisters' which went on to a successful recording career.
She comes to the Windamere Hotel, with a few feathers in her cap!
Elizabeth started singing and acting in England when she was seven years of age
- largely due to a speech impediment and a big voice trying to get out of a little
girl! Her mother would take her to the Saturday matinees of the local operatic societies
in the area and she just knew that some day she would be on that stage! Some of
her major lead roles in musicals in the UK list as: Desert Song; Hello Dolly; The
Quaker Girl; Guys and Dolls; Call Me Madam, Song of Norway.
She also led a busy life in the famous clubs of Northern England, where she was involved in cabaret and also a revival of 'The Old Music Hall' in London. Engagements took her away to Ireland and the Channel Islands, where she appeared with some of the leading stars of the big club scene. One of her biggest coups was appearing with the well known comedy act, 'Little and Large' in the 'The Talk of the North Dinner Theatre' in Manchester.
When she arrived in Canada, she was invited to join the 'Gilbert and Sullivan' Society and was a leading player in the light opera and musical comedy shows. Some shows in which she starred were: The Merry Widow; My Fair Lady; The King and I; Bells are Ringing; Mikado; La Belle Helene; Man of La Mancha; Pinchpenny Phantom of the Opera.
David trained as an actor at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama Glasgow.
For the Royal National Theatre, he played the MC in Oh What A Lovely War, James and Charles Edward in the Olivier Award winning Candide, Macfinch in Money, Semyonov in Summerfolk and Pinhead in The Villains' Opera. He also appeared there in Chain Play which celebrated 25 years of the National on London's South Bank.
In the West End, he has appeared in Les Miserables and Which Witch, Always, Out of the Blue and Napoleon which led him to be interviewed for the BBC Radio 4 series Fabulous Flops! His British regional appearances include Me and My Girl, Assassins, Annie and Whistle Down The Wind.
His cabaret appearances include his own show on London's Battersea Barge and Build Me a Bridge at both London's Bridewell Theatre and Don't Tell Mama in New York.
This Christmas will see him in the spectacular movie version of Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera.
He is absolutely thrilled to have been invited back to The Windamere where he last performed for the Millennium celebrations in 1999/2000.
It is difficult to characterize Stefan Bednarczyk, the artiste, because of his versatility. He took an honours degree in music at Oxford: so is he a musicologist? Or, is he a performer on radio, TV and film? Is he a man of the theatre, perhaps a stage actor? In fact, Stefan is all of these and more: above all, he is an entertainer. Three of his one man shows have taken him to the Edinburgh Festival, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Cannes. His one man show based on the works of FLANDERS AND SWAN took him from the Jermyn Street Theatre in London to Antibes, and then to Monaco where he recently performed for Princes Rainier and Albert.
Stefan’s Film & Television credits include: Eastenders; The Sea Change; Mike Leigh’s Topsy Turvey; Crocodile Shoes; Crown Prosecutor; Love Hurts; Paul Merton - The Series; Norbert Smith with Harry Enfield: The Grand Style of Jazz.
His BBC radio credits include: Now We Are Seventy; Friday Night Is Music Night; and Midweek. Recordings include: Live At The Morgue; and Shakespeare: The Animated Tales.
Lucie was born In Worcester and raised both in England and France. She trained at the Arts Educational School in London after which she returned to France as a Can-Can Dancer at the Famous Moulin Rouge in Paris.
Whilst there she appeared weekly as a Singer and dancer on France's most popular television variety programme, "Jacque Martin" and made a feature film starring Jeff Goldblum and Bob Hoskins called "THE FAVOUR, THE WATCH AND THE BIG FISH".
1990 saw her return to the UK to appear with Marti Webb in three national tours of "THE MAGIC OF THE MUSICALS" culminating in both TV and Radio broadcasts for the BBC.Since settling back in England, Lucie has diversified into concerts, promotional work and more musical theatre, including choral productions at the N.E.C. in Birmingham and a number one tour of "ME & MY GIRL" where she regularly played the role of lady Jacqueline opposite Gary Wilmot. For the Open Air Theatre, Regent's Park, Lucie played Suzanne Duval in "PAINT YOUR WAGON", Juno in "THE TEMPEST" and The Nun plus understudying Adriana in "THE COMEDY OF ERRORS" Lucie aIso played as Lady Joy in "JOEY AND GINA'S WEDDING" at the Cafe Royale, Piccadilly Circus.
Even more recently Lucie was at The Crucible Theatre in "MY FAIR LADY" playing the role of Loie Fuller, in the West End at the Theatre Royal Haymarket.
Playing Janice and cast in "EDNA THE SPECTACLE" and after choreographing and playing the role of Prince Charming in "CINDERELLA" for the Com Exchange in Newbury, Lucie went on a world cruise on the QE2 working on shows like "SOME ENCHANTED EVENING" and "OLD TIME MUSIC HALL" to great success.
Lucie is thrilled to be performing at The Windamere.
This is Shena's second visit to the Windamere Hotel and she is very excited to be returning to such a wonderful and special place! Shena is from Sydney, Australia and has had a professional career that has taken her all over the globe. Having trained at Australia's foremost Musical Theatre School, W.A. Academy of Performing Arts, she lauched her career with an Australian, NZ and Asian tour of The Music of Andrew Lloyd-Webber starring Anthony Warlow and Sarah Brightman. She understudied Ms. Brightman and sang opposite Mr. Warlow performing solos from Phantom of the Opera, Evita and Tell Me on a Sunday.
In Australia Shena performed in Rodgers and Hammerstein's A Grand Night for Singing and David Atkins. Hot Shoe Shuffle where she understudied and playedthe role of April opposite David. She was then asked back to sing April's big band numbers with the Hot Shoe boys to support Michael Crawford at the new Lyric Theatre for the opening of Sydney's Star City Casino.
Shena then found herself back in NZ and Asia playing the Narrator in Joseph & His Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. It was during this tour that she met her talented partner, Matthew Brown, and has enjoyed working with him on many occasions since.
Shena joined Auckland Theatre Complany to play Frenchie in Cabaret and Rapunzel in Into The Woods. After a treasured experience of singing in India over the Christmas of 2000 she stayed in NZ for one last show, Blood Brothers, before moving across the world to London. Ironically her first engagement was to sing in the Caribbean aboard the Norwegian Sky where she and Matthew met the wonderful Lucie Florentine. Here she performed in Cameron Macintoshls Hey! Mr. Producer, Runnin' Wild and Sea Legs Cirque.
Shena is not only excited to be back at the Windamere but also to be singing again with Lucie and her favourite accompanist!
Matthew was born in the UK and raised in Malaysia and New Zealand. In a 25 year career he has created music for theatre, television, radio, film, galleries and installations. Matthew has performed live in bands, orchestras and jazz groups. He is a sought after accompanist for singers but is also known for his expressive and creative solo piano performances.
More recently Matthew became the resident musical director for New Zealand's highly successful Auckland Theatre Company. Productions include The Rocky Horror Show, Hair, Into the Woods, Cabaret and The Wind in the Willows. For commercial theatre Matthew musically directed Blood Brothers and toured NZ and Asia with Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Phantom of the Opera, The Secret Garden, Cats and Evita.
Now resident in London he is producing recordings by such artistes as Lucie Florentine and Shena Sanders, as well as writing, arranging and acompanying peformers in London.
Matthew first performed at the Windamere in 2000/1 with his partner Shena and longtime colleague Grant Bridger and is delighted to be able to visit once more and perform with these two enchanting ladies.
"It's an index of Gillespie's empathy with her material that the originals blend so seamlessly with the classic covers... that's no mean achievement...[she] literally beats the pants off anything done by a British bluesman these last 10 years." Charles Shaar Murray, Essential Blues On CD
"I believe the blues should be sung by an older person because it's about emotions and experience. I couldn't do justice to it when I was younger because my voice didn't have the edge it needed to convey the emotion, nor did I have the first hand experience to sing about blue themes convincingly. "But after 38 years in music and 37 albums Dana Gillespie is well qualified to sing the blues.
Whilst there she appeared weekly as a Singer and dancer on France's most popular television variety programme, "Jacque Martin" and made a feature film starring Jeff Goldblum and Bob Hoskins called "THE FAVOUR, THE WATCH AND THE BIG FISH".
A career that combined radio, theatre, film and sport (she was once British junior water-skiing champion) with music, Dana has been in the public eye since recording her first album at the age of 15 .Her music has evolved from folk in the 60s through 70s Bowie-esque glam-rock to the raunchy in-your-face blues she performs today. Her new album, the aptly titled "Experienced" is released at the end of March. It has 12 songs, 11 of which are self-penned. Rolf Harris features on two titles, playing the wobbleboard and eefing.
Dana Gillespie has been dedicated to the blues from an early age: "I discovered the blues when I went to the American Folk Blues Festival in 1962 and also to see the Yardbirds at the Marquee Club. I was in my early teens and hadn't heard anything like it before - blues wasn't easily available in the UK back then". Bessie Smith especially inspired her because of her combination of sly, funny and bawdy lyrics. "Blues was my first musical love because it's earthy, spiritual and honest."
In 1964 she recorded for Pye, with Donovan on guitar and became a regular on the folk circuit. She recalls: "[at that stage] I was doing folk because I couldn't afford a band and I hadn't found my musical niche". In those early years Dana got to know many of the top bands and people in the music business. Most shared her love of blues, and played their own version of it. Bob Dylan who was an old friend of Dana from the 60s showed interest in her music in 1997, when he invited her to support him on his UK tour, which included a sell-out show at Wembley.
Her own preference for that kind of music was tempered by the fact that most of her managers did not really know how to handle her emergent talent. After a swathe of singles on Pye and two LPs for Decca, she moved to RCA and made "Weren't Born A Man" in 1973, some titles being produced by David Bowie, whose management, Mainman, also took care of her career.
While her career in music was simmering away, she became better known for her appearances in London's West End theatres, in shows such as the first run of Jesus Christ Superstar (playing Mary Magdalene), The Who's "Tommy" (playing the Acid Queen) and the rock Othello, "Catch My Soul". She also co-stared with Dudley Moore in the film version of "The Hound Of The Baskervilles" and stared in Ken Russell's "Mahler" among other movies.
Her second RCA LP "Ain't Gonna Play No Second Fiddle" was just beginning to take off when her management company decided she should move to the USA, where she played and toured extensively for two years. Dana hosted a radio blues show in New York at the same time, which gave her the opportunity to learn more about the roots of the music. She has continued her interest in radio in Austria where she recently completed a 11-year stint hosting a weekly, international world music show on Blue Danube Radio called "Globe Trotting With Gillespie".
In the 80s, Dana toured Europe several times with the "Stars Of Boogie Woogie" tour, singing either with the Mojo Blues Band or with Axel Zwingenberger. Her time with the Mojo Blues Band, a purist outfit that backed all the American blues musicians visiting Europe, lasted three years. "I lived, slept and breathed blues, because that was all they did. It was a great experience."
She also developed her interest in Indian and Arabic music, recording the single 'Move Your Body Close To Me', an Indian-influenced song with synthesiser backing. It shot to #1 in Europe. Consequently, Dana split from the Mojos to explore the pop and record her two Bellaphon albums, "Solid Romance" and "It Belongs To Me".
Dana has already released three blues albums through Ace. "Blue Job", was recorded in 1982, a collection of blues songs with a humorous risqué twist. The second LP, "Below The Belt" drew on the same source, and was produced by Mike Vernon (who also produced Dana's Pye album in the 60s, "Box Of Surprises"). The third LP, "Sweet Meat" concentrated on "fat" and "thin" numbers - another raunchy set of songs. The combined three LPs are now available on two CDs "Blues It Up" and "Hot Stuff".
During the 90s Dana released 14 albums, recording three in Sanskrit, under the artist name Third Man. Her touring schedule has been consistently packed, taking her to all the European blues festivals. In recognition of her talent, she was voted Top British Female Blues Vocalist by the British Blues Connection and Blueprint Magazine between 1992 and 1996 and has now been elevated into their Hall Of Fame.
In the last week of January, for the last five years, the Caribbean Island of Mustique has been the destination for a charity blues festival, founded and organised by Dana. The festival started as a small event but as Mustique has grown in popularity, as a tourist destination and as a playground for the wealthy, so has the festival. The funds collected are used to pay for education on the poorer neighbouring island, St Vincent. Dana maintains that the event will continue to be a free festival, raising money through the sale of the Mustique Blues Festival Live CD produced every year. Blues musicians from all over the world, such as Big Jay McNeely and Larry Garner, perform at the festival.
DANA is accompanied by Julien Brunetaud, pianist, and Pierre Gustave, guitarist.
A French musical prodigy, Julien, 22, burst onto the professional circuit in the last year. He recently toured Europe with Big Joe Turner.
RED PIERRE GUSTAVE
A member of Dana’s touring band for the last 18 months, Fred has also recorded with Dana.