STORIES ABOUT THE WOMEN IN JAZZ FEATURED ON THIS ALBUM
TRACK 1. ANN RONELL, COMPOSER OF WILLOW WEEP FOR ME
Pursuing a music education, Ann Ronell graduated from Radcliffe College in Massachusetts in 1927 before tackling the New York music publishing industry. Whilst at college she interviewed George Gershwin for a student publication and the two became friends, with their friendship supporting her commitment to a career in music. Despite facing difficulties breaking into the field, Ronell managed to became one of the first female composers to write both music and lyrics for a broadway show (Count me in, produced in 1942). She was also known in Hollywood as one of the first successful female film composers and lyricists contributing compositions for Disney and Paramount movies. Ronell is best known for two of her compositions; “Who’s Afraid of the Big bad Wolf?” which she co-wrote in 1933 with Frank Churchill for Disney, and her major contribution to the jazz standards repertoire “Willow Weep for Me” which she composed in 1932 and dedicated to George Gershwin.
Willow Weep for me has been recorded by many great jazz instrumentalists and singers including Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane, Oscar Peterson, Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, Frank Sinatra and many more.
Burlingame, S. (n.d.). “Ann Ronell.” Biography, JazzStandards.com. https://www.jazzstandards.com/biographies/biography_99.htm , retrieved December 9 2022.
Gioia, T. (2013). “Five women songwriters who helped shape the sound of jazz.” OUP Blog. https://blog.oup.com/2013/03/jazz-women-songwriters-gioia/ , retrieved December 9 2022.
The Ann Ronell Papers. (n.d.). JPB 02-1, Music Division, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations. https://archives.nypl.org/mus/20280 , retrieved December 9 2022.
TRACK 2. DOLORES DURAN, LYRICIST OF ESTRADA DO SOL
Born in 1930 in Brazil, Dolores Duran (Adiléa da Silva Rocha) began singing in Rio’s nightclubs at the age of 16 and became known as a successful female crooner performing standards from the Brazilian and American songbooks. After seeing Dolores perform My Funny Valentine in Rio, Ella Fitzgerald declared that Dolores’s interpretation was the finest she had ever heard. Dolores composed and recorded her own songs and also co-wrote several hits with Antônio Carlos Jobim. Her compositions with Jobim are amongst her most famous and include “Por Causa de Você” (Because of You) which Frank Sinatra recorded in 1969, and “Estrada do Sol”(Road to the Sun): a beautiful tune about leaving behind troubles of the past and starting a new journey.
Dolores has been honoured as a composer by many of Brazil’s great artists who have recorded her songs including Elis Regina, Gal Costa, Milton Nascimento, Tito Madi, and Maysa.
Caterina Valente / Alaide Costa / Maysa / Dolores Duran – The Women Of Bossa Nova: Volume One. (2017). Liner Notes, Cherry Red Records Ltd. https://www.cherryred.co.uk/product/the-women-of-bossa-nova-volume-one/ , retrieved December 9 2022.
Estrada do Sol. (n.d.). SecondHandSongs. https://secondhandsongs.com/work/152370/versions#nav-entity , retrieved December 9 2022.
Schoof, K. (n.d.). “Dolores Duran: Entre Amigos Review.” Música Brasileira. https://musicabrasileira.org/dolores-duran-entre-amigos/ , retrieved December 9 2022.
Weinoldt, K. (2002). “Goddesses.” Brazzil. http://www.brazzil.com/p27feb02.htm , retrieved December 9 2022.
Por Causa de Você. (n.d.). SecondHandSongs. https://secondhandsongs.com/work/132642/versions#nav-entity , retrieved December 9 2022.
TRACK 3. BILLIE HOLIDAY, CO-COMPOSER OF DON’T EXPLAIN
Billie Holiday experienced many episodes of humiliation and discrimination based on her race. Although she is often described as a victim of male abuse, racism, drugs and alcohol she also enjoyed the life of a Harlem nightclub performer. Many see her as a feminist who paved the way for female artists and social activist; by openly doing what she wanted whenever she wanted, ingesting whatever substance she felt like, romancing whoever she wanted, championing human solidarity through her commitment to perform and record “Strange Fruit” (despite being targeted by the authorities for doing so), and becoming one of the greatest jazz artists of all time in a male dominated landscape.
Billie also composed and co-wrote songs which have become jazz standards including “God Bless the Child,” “Fine and Mellow” and “Don’t Explain.” It is said Billie wrote “Don’t Explain” after her husband came home with lipstick traces on his shirt collar. The literal interpretation of the lyrics to this tune are a perhaps a feminist’s nightmare. Yet her songs often make the listener feel uncomfortable. With “Don’t Explain” she is perhaps admitting what many wouldn’t; that love is complicated and that in the depths of passionate relationships, we sometimes think and feel things that are not very good for us.
Billie Holiday + Strange Fruit. (n.d.). The Kennedy Centre. https://www.kennedy-center.org/education/resources-for-educators/classroom-resources/media-and-interactives/media/music/billie-holiday–strange-fruit/ , retrieved December 9 2022.
Chideya, F. (2007). “Song of the Week: ‘Don’t Explain’ .” Interview with Professor Farah Jasmine Griffin. NPR. https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=9348251 , retrieved December 9 2022.
Don’t Explain. (n.d.). Billie Holiday. https://billieholiday.com/song/dont-explain/, retrieved December 9 2022.
Godfrey, A. (2020). “Singer, activist, sex machine, addict: the troubled brilliance of Billie Holiday.” The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/music/2020/nov/06/billie-holiday-documentary-lost-tapes-racism-in-united-states , retrieved December 9 2022.
Horsely, J. (n.d.). “Billie Holiday.” Biographies, FermBio. https://www.fembio.org/english/biography.php/woman/biography/billie-holiday/, retrieved December 9 2022.
Kafka, F. (1996). “Billie: Assessing Lady Day’s Art and Impact.” JazzTimes.
Lathan, B. (2021). “A Women in Music Series: Artists Who Paved the Way – Billie Holiday.” City Girl Network. https://citygirlnetwork.com/magazine/women-music-billie-holiday , retrieved December 9 2022.
Reich, H. (2015). “Cassandra Wilson reflects on Billie Holiday at 100.” Chicago Trubune. https://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/music/howard-reich/ct-jazz-cassandra-wilson-20150303-column.html , retrieved December 9 2022.
TRACK 4. DOROTHY FIELDS, LYRICIST OF PICK YOURSELF UP
Dorothy Fields is described as having written “some of the most enduring lyrics of the golden age of the American popular song”. Fields co-wrote success after success from the 1920s with the hit “I Can’t Give You Anything but Love, Baby” to the 1960’s with “Big Spender” and beyond. She co-wrote more than 400 songs with many notable composers of the day, and worked on 15 stage musicals and 26 movies.
Born in New York City, Fields left behind a dream of becoming an actress at her father’s disapproval, started writing poetry and teaching drama before meeting composer Jimmy McHugh. Together they composed hit tunes including “I Can’t Give You Anything but Love”, “I’m In the Mood For Love” and “On the Sunny Side of the Street”. She continued to co-write hits including some of her most notable songs from her partnership with Jerome Kern; “A Fine Romance”, “The Way You Look Tonight” and “Pick Yourself Up” which was composed in 1936.
Dorothy Fields. (n.d.). The Songwriters Hall of Fame. https://www.songhall.org/profile/Dorothy_Fields , retrieved December 9 2022.
Dorothy Fields: American Songwriter. (n.d.). Britannica.https://www.britannica.com/biography/Dorothy-Fields , retrieved December 9 2022.
Katz Frommer, M. (2021). “Dorothy Fields.” Jewish Women’s Archive. https://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/fields-dorothy , retrieved December 9 2022.
TRACK 5. MARÍA GREVER , COMPOSER OF CUANDO VUELVA A TU LADO
Maria Grever was the first successful female Mexican composer and became known as one of Mexico’s greatest composers. Her dream was to bring the music of Latin America to a broader international audience. Grever composed her first song at age four, a Christmas Carol, and published her first hit at the age of 18. The song, titled “A Una Ola” (To a Wave), sold 3 million copies. She studied music in Mexico and France and moved to New York when she was 22 after marrying an American Oil company executive. She achieved popularity in Latin America, Europe and the United States with over 800 compositions including film scores for Paramount Pictures and 20th Century Fox studios. Grever’s most enduring hit was “What a Difference a Day Makes,” or “Cuando Vuelva a Tu Lado,” written in 1934. It has been recorded by artists including Eydie Gorme, Chet Baker, Dean Martin, Dinah Washington, and Natalie Cole.
Montalvo Lucar, J. (2022). “Genias in Music: Maria Grever.” Latino USA. https://www.latinousa.org/2022/03/18/mariagrever/ , retrieved December 9 2022.
Ritchel, C. (2021). “Maria Grever: Google Doodle honours one of Mexico’s ‘greatest composers’.” Independent. https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/music/maria-grever-google-doodle-composer-b1800641.html , retrieved December 9 2022.
Sciarrotta, M. (2021). “María Grever: The Best Mexican Composer You’ve Never Heard Of.” Theatre Art Life. https://www.theatreartlife.com/music-sound/maria-grever-the-best-mexican-composer-youve-never-heard-of/ , retrieved December 9 2022.
TRACK 6. BERNICE PETKER, COMPOSER OF CLOSE YOUR EYES
Following a childhood performing on the Vaudeville circuit, Bernice Petkere worked as a pianist for a New York music publishing house and then established herself as a composer. She was referred to as “The Queen of Tin Pan Alley” by Irving Berlin. Like her female contemporaries, Petkere faced challenges working in the male dominated music industry but didn’t get discouraged. She is quoted as having reflected “only a couple of music executives ever got what I called ʻfreshʼ with me, and I let them have it, smack in the face like you never saw.” She wrote film scores and radio shows and her first song titled “Starlight”, was recorded by Bin Crosby in 1931. Her songs have been recorded by many other notable artists including Tony Bennett, Ella Fitzgerald, Doris Day, Peggy Lee, Betty Carter and Kurt Elling. She wrote the moody and enticing jazz hit, “Close Your Eyes” in 1933.
Bernice Petkere, Biorgaphy. (n.d.) Mini Biography, IMDb. https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0677675/bio , retrieved December 9 2022.
Burlingame, S. (n.d.). “Bernice Petkere.” JazzStandards.com. https://www.jazzstandards.com/biographies/biography_226.htm , retrieved December 9 2022.
Oliver, M. (2000). “Close Your Eyes: Celebrating Bernice Petkere, The Queen of Tin Pan Alley.” LA Times. https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-2000-jan-12-mn-53305-story.html , retrieved December 9 2022.
TRACK 7. EDITH PIAF, LYRICIST/CO-COMPOSER OF LA VIE EN ROSE
Abandoned at birth by her mother and reared in a brothel by her grandmother, Edith Piaf had a rough childhood before she started singing as a street performer at the age of 14 alongside her father, a circus acrobat.
In 1935 she was discovered by nightclub owner Louis Leplee and got her first job as a club singer, and within a few years was singing in the large music halls of Paris. She became known as a master interpreter of chanson (or French ballad), moving audiences worldwide with her passionate performances of songs about love and loss.
Piaf composed over 80 of her own compositions and co-wrote “La Vie en Rose” in 1945. The song is about a beautiful romance that transforms the lovers who, even in difficult times, now see the world through rose coloured glasses. It has been recorded by jazz artists including Louis Armstrong, Dee Dee Bridgwater, Kurt Elling, Tony Bennett and Madelaine Peroux.
Biographie: Edith Piaf. (n.d.). Radio France Internationale Musique. https://web.archive.org/web/20030227100205/http://www.rfimusique.com/siteEn/biographie/biographie_6057.asp, retrieved December 9 2022.
Edith Piaf: Biography. (n.d.). French Linguistics. http://www.french-linguistics.co.uk/biographies/edith_piaf.shtml , retrieved December 9 2022.
Edith Piaf: French Singer. (n.d.). Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Edith-Piaf , retrieved December 9 2022.
Huey, S. (n.d.). “Edith Piaf Biography.” All Music. https://www.allmusic.com/artist/mn0000150629/biography , retrieved December 9 2022.
Je vois la vie en rose: the story of the song. (n.d.). French Moments. https://frenchmoments.eu/je-vois-la-vie-en-rose-the-story-of-the-song/ , retrieved December 9 2022.
TRACK 8. JACKIE BORNSTEIN, COMPOSER OF DON’T TELL HER
Jackie Bornstein grew on a musical diet heavily laden with classical music, big band swing, bebop and modern jazz. She began classical singing lessons at age four and then studied classical piano and clarinet. Jackie continued a strong preference for jazz and went on to study voice jazz/improvisation at the Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne University. After years of enduring what she experienced as extreme prejudice during her jazz studies, Jackie left the course and decided to pursue psychology, specifically peace psychology. Her Honours thesis on the Qualities of Peacemakers, peace psychology research and her volunteer work led to her being awared a UK based Masters Scholarship in Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution. Jackie focused her Masters research on the role of music in contributing to peacebuilding. In 2014 she returned to performing and began developing projects that combined her background in peace studies and music. Inspired by her negative experiences while studying jazz and by the noticeable slow growth of female musicians and composers in the Australian jazz scene, Jackie developed her performance project “Women in Jazz.” This project celebrates the music and hidden stories of female composers who have contributed some of the most moving songs in the jazz repertoire. In 2021 Jackie was awarded a City of Melbourne Arts Grant to extend this project by recording an album and developing a book on Australian Women in Jazz. The book will share the musical journeys of a selection of Australian female jazz and improvising artists, providing easily accessible role models for aspiring musicians.
Jackie’s composition “Don’t Tell Her” reflects the strength of a woman who has rejected the voices of fear and judgment that have surrounded her. She has not given in to hardship and instead has faced her own fears and embraces her life’s challenges.
TRACK 9. PEGGY LEE, CO-COMPOSER OF I DON’T KNOW ENOUGH ABOUT YOU
Peggy Lee suffered a difficult childhood. She lost her mother when she was four years old, her father was an alcoholic and her stepmother was physically abusive. Leaving home in her early teens she began working professionally as a singer on radio, and then joined a string of bands before her big break; being spotted by Benny Goodman and taking the spot as the singer in his orchestra.
Following on from her successful career as a singer, Peggy Lee launched a career in songwriting in 1943 in collaboration with her husband of the time, guitarist Dave Barbour. Some of Peggy Lee and Dave Barbours hits include: “It’s a Good Day,” “Mañana” and her 1946 popular tune featured on this album, “I Don’t Know Enough About You”.
Peggy Lee also cowrote with Mel Torme, Quincy Jones and Duke Ellington as well as co-writing the score for Walt Disney’s animated feature Lady and the Tramp (1955).
Biographie. (n.d.). Peggy Lee. https://www.peggylee.com/all-about-peggy/biography/ , retrieved December 9 2022.
Peggy Lee: American Singer and Songwriter. (n.d.). Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Peggy-Lee , retrieved December 9 2022.
Perry, K. (2020). ” ‘I will kill you if you give this song to anyone but me’: how Peggy Lee was perfect for Is That All There Is?” The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/music/2020/may/26/peggy-lee-perfect-is-that-all-there-is-coronavirus , retrieved December 9 2022.
The cool power of Peggy Lee. (2022). CBS News. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/the-cool-power-of-peggy-lee/ , retrieved December 9 2022.
TRACK 10. KEREN ANN, CO-COMPOSER OF JARDIM (JARDIN D’HIVER)
Keren Ann Zeidel was born in Israel and has spent much of her life in Europe, particularly in Paris. A singer and songwriter, her style is described as bilingual neo-folk music and she describes her influences as Russian literature, Jewish folk music, French poetry, Bob Dylan, and Suzanne Vega. Her songs have been featured on acclaimed TV shows including on Grey’s Anatomy, Six Feet Under, Big Love and Nurse Jackie.
Together with Bejamin Biolay, Keren Ann co-wrote five songs on Henri Salvador’s best-selling jazz and bossa nova inspired album, Chambre Avec Vue. One of the songs on the album was Keren Anne’s already released “Jardin D’hiver” (Winter Garden) which became a hit song. In 2006, brazilian-born musical artists Bïa and Silvano Michelino released a Portuguese version of the song under the title “Jardim”. Jardim was also recorded by the legendary Brazilian singer and guitarist Rosa Passos in 2006.
Catroux, S. (2002). “Keren Ann’s Post-Salvador.” Le Parisian. https://www-leparisien-fr.translate.goog/culture-loisirs/l-apres-salvador-de-keren-ann-23-04-2002-2003008729.php?_x_tr_sl=fr&_x_tr_tl=en&_x_tr_hl=en&_x_tr_pto=sc , retrieved December 9 2022.
Celeste. (2012). “Keren Ann Shows Hushed Sophistication.” French music Blog. https://www.frenchmusicblog.com/keren-ann , retrieved December 9 2022.
Day, E. (2011). “Keren Ann: happy to be melancholy.” Interview, The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/music/2011/apr/03/keren-ann-interview-101 , retrieved December 9 2022.
Jardin D’hiver: versions. (n.d.). SecondHandSongs. https://secondhandsongs.com/work/68504/versions#nav-entity , retrieved December 9 2022.
Keren Ann: Biography. (n.d.). Blue Note. https://www.bluenote.com/artist/keren-ann/ , retrieved December 9 2022.
For bookings or enquiries or to join our email list and keep up to date with Jackie’s upcoming performances, please contact Jackie: firstname.lastname@example.org