Kerrie Biddell


KERRIE BIDDELL - RIP 5th September 2014

Kerrie Biddell was “unquestionably the best female jazz singer in Australian jazz, yet she was always more than just a jazz singer … her musical interests were so wide and her talents so formidable that she was impossible to categorise.”

Her first job, doing back up vocals for Dusty Springfield at Chequers, Dizzy Gillespie, Don Burrows, Alan Broadbent, Ray Brown, Buddy Rich, Herb Ellis and Dave Liebman. “Regarded by many as the best voice in Australia, Kerrie was without a doubt the most under publicised talent in Australia”.

In 1968 Kerrie joined pop group The Affair which toured Australia extensively, appearing on such TV programmes as Bandstand, Uptight, GTK and The Club Show. This was the beginning of a 23 year career in studios singing on numerous jingles, back-ups on records, film scores and live TV shows; for about 15 years she was the most prominent session singer in Australia.

The Affair won the “national Battle of the Sounds” the following year and won a trip to England.   After the group broke up in 1970 Kerrie became the vocalist with the Daly- Wilson Big Band touring nationally with Cilla Black and Dudley Moore. She also toured with the Buddy Rich Big Band.

She started her solo career in cabaret working the club circuit in Sydney and in 1972 won Music Maker magazine’s jazz poll for Best Female Singer. This poll provided an insight into the likes of the people who “play an important part shaping music in Australia”.

In this year Kerrie made her first trip to the U.S. where she appeared twice on the top rating TV show Midnight Special. She worked in Canada for six months in studios, clubs and on TV before she returned to Australia and recorded the highly acclaimed ABC radio programme “Kerrie Biddell and Friends” which ran for 32 weeks. She also recorded her first solo album which won two awards at the Australian Record Awards, later named the ARIA Awards.

In 1974 Kerrie returned to the U.S. to represent Australian music at Expo in Spokane, Washington, followed by her first season of a 5 year contract she’d signed with the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas, then on to Los Angles to appear on the Merv Griffin Show.

On Kerrie’s return to Australia she recorded her second album Only The Beginning. She joined the jazz fusion band Compared To What and recorded Australia’s first digital recording at EMI. For about six years this band was widely recognised as one of Australia’s finest bands.

Kerrie joined the faculty of the Jazz Diploma course at the Conservatorium of Music in 1983 and was teaching there on and off. Also at this time she started working with world acclaimed pianist Julian Lee and won the Bicentennial Music Award for Best Jazz Vocalist in 1988 and Mo Awards for Best Female Jazz Performer in 1990, 1994 and 1996.

In 1992 Kerrie wrote her own Legends show at the Tilbury Hotel (later screening on ABC TV where it rated highly), became Musical Director for the play “Lipstick Dreams” which had two successful Sydney seasons and released a CD There Will Never Be Another You with the Julian Lee trio.

Kerrie also had a residency for 9 years at the Tilbury Hotel Woolloomooloo, appearing every Sunday with Julian Lee and later Michael Bartolomei. She appeared in the highly acclaimed 1998 Sydney Theatre Company production of “As You Like It” for which Michael was the Musical Director and composer. Her CD The Singer was also launched that same year.

In the 1998 presentation of “Follies In Concert” at the Sydney Opera House Concert Hall, Kerrie performed the role of Solange.

By 2001 Kerrie’s health precluded her doing any more live performances so she has since concentrated on her teaching - masterclasses, private tuition and at various schools and Universities. She was also in demand as a record producer and script writer for cabaret shows.  One of Australia's greats!


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