'Welcome To Her Pretty World'
Classically trained vocalist Anne Walsh gracefully invites you to a romantic and celestial encounter with her debut jazz album, Pretty World. The new album is a sophisticated collection of timeless standards and sensual Brazilian jazz tempos carried by Walsh’s ethereal voice.
Walsh utilized the production talents of her husband, Thomas Zink in the making of Pretty World, while drawing on the various musical talents of several musicians including guitarist Oscar Castro-Neves, percussionist Tiki Pasillas, saxophonist-flautist Gary Meek and bassists Carlitos Del Puerto, Brian Bromberg and Jerry Watts.
While Pretty World consists entirely of carefully selected covers, Walsh, along with Joe DeRenzo, took extra care in creating original vocals for several musical tracks, which adds a unique and personal element to the album.
Exclusive Magazine had the recent opportunity to speak with Anne Walsh about her release of Pretty World and her motivation behind creating her first jazz inspired album.
Your music has it’s roots in Brazilian style jazz. Who were your musical influences growing up and how many still factor into your music today? "I listened to a really wide variety of music when I was young. My favorites were Sergio Mendes and Brazil ’66, Astrud Gilberto and even Herb Alpert (mostly because I studied dance - ballet and jazz - and I liked to dance to his music when I was a little girl). I think that Lanie Hall (from Brazil ’66) was my biggest influence in this area because we have a similar vocal sound, although I didn’t know this as a child. Later I listened to Ellis Regina, and Ivan Lins, both beautiful singers and models of Brazilian phrasing."
As an up-and-coming artist, how would you describe the sound and style of your debut jazz album 'Pretty World'? "Tom Zink (my producer and husband) and I wanted to capture the energy of the era that most of the songs were written (late 60’s and 70’s), but also to give the music a very textured feel - sparse at times, and lush at others. It’s really all acoustic instruments (including live strings and woodwinds) with a heavy emphasis on percussion. It’s not an entirely Brazilian feel throughout, but it tends to come back to that quite often."
Your father was a baritone/tenor and performed with local opera companies. How much did his music influence your career as an artist? "I always appreciated my father’s musicality and the rich sound of his voice (baritone/tenors are still my favorite male vocal sound). Mostly I saw the joy he got from singing and whistling. When I began to study voice in college, he always reminded me “not to lose my sound and style” while studying the classical genre. He is my biggest fan."
You have your Master’s degree in music and currently teach at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in Los Angeles, a college for the performing arts. Tell us how this inspires you and helps you to grow as a musician "It’s inspiring to see a student grow in their musicality and when I get a particularly talented student, it’s really re-affirming to know that I had some part in that growth. What’s even more amazing to me is when I work with a student who isn’t blessed with the greatest instrument, and to watch how their diligence and commitment to the study bring them to a place neither of us knew would be possible. The music business can be challenging and distressing at times so it’s really great to be able to guide a person and discover where their talents fit into their dream."
You’ve now produced three full-length albums; 'Baby Love,' 'Be Still My Soul' and the most recent release, 'Pretty World.' Which album do you feel says the most about you as an artist? "As an artist, Pretty World is definitely who I am. The lullaby CD was originally a project for Yamaha’s Disklavier piano. My approach to the melodic phrasing of the lullabies along with the rawness of my vocals helped bring me where I am today. Be Still My Soul was more about getting out of the way so that the Lord would sing through me. Pretty World is only the beginning for me…more to come."
'Pretty World' is an album of carefully selected cover songs. Please tell us a little bit about the song selection process. How did you choose which songs you would like to record for the album? "Probably the strongest feature that unites the CD is the lyrics of the songs. Tom and I are drawn to music with complexity and depth in the harmonies, lyrics, melodies and rhythms. “Pretty World” became the title track because it is joyous, it’s up, it’s light, and it’s the reward, vacation and fantasy. Pretty much all the songs - “Waters of March,” “Chove Chuva”, Pat Metheny’s “So May it Secretly Begin” - all have to do with life: hardships, trials, lost love, questioning, beauty and pain. Pretty World represents complexities in life while honoring great music and brilliant composers."
How easy or hard is it to create a new, vibrant, wanted-by-the-public sound that both builds on and surpasses the musical wonderments and accomplishments that preceded it within the industry? "Extremely tough! I know that I’m making music for others to enjoy so it has to be something they can relate to, but if I start to worry about the magic formula for success, I’m not going to be able to please myself or my audience (not for very long anyway). On the other hand, no matter how much heart you put into your sound, some people will like it and some won’t. I’ve spent a long time studying and thinking about music. Now I just want to put my vision out there and find others who like what I have to say."
After graduating from college, you moved to LA and found yourself singing in a classic rock band. Why did you decide to leave the band in pursuit of a jazz career? "Although I can sing Pat Benatar, I am not Pat Benatar. My voice is more like a flute, sometimes even a French horn (on certain vowels that I vocalize). I wanted to improvise and work with nuances and dynamics. Rock is too driving for me."
Each of your three albums has a distinctly different theme. What can we expect from you in the future? "More Brazilian vibe, some original songs, and of course Sergio Mendes and Cole Porter covers."
If asked to record one for charity, what '80s (and possibly cheesy!) pop/rock song would you love to cover today and why? "Either “Get Here” by Oleta Adams or “I Will Always Love You” by Dolly Parton - a la Anne Walsh style. Why? I tend to be drawn to the melancholy and I am a hopeless romantic."
Lastly, and throwing you a journalistic curve ball, Exclusive Magazine loves Penguins, do you? "I think they are cute and “The March of the Penguins” documentary was beautiful, adorable, and sad. There I go again with complexities. I once wore a tuxedo in a show. I was playing Marlena Dietrich in the opening scene for the stage musical “Mame” with Carol Lawrence and Sally Struthers. I looked hot and I never say that about myself. I still have my tuxedo gown from my master’s recital. It’s a classic and I love it. So yes, I like penguins and what they inspire."
'Pretty World' is available for download on iTunes. To learn more about Anne Walsh and listen to additional tracks from her previous albums, visit her website at www.annewalsh.com
Interview: Erin M. Stranyak
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