Chris Bennett Biography
Chris Bennett is, today, a name synonymous with the international success and commercial appeal of the southern California contemporary jazz music scene. With the Summer 2008 release GIRL TALK, her 10th studio CD release, she has secured a revered place as one of an intimate handful of successors to Peggy Lee, June Christy, Anita O\'Day and the classic American female jazz vocalists.
At times a stylist and, more often, the singer of self-composed music and lyrics, she is always a genuine artist in performance A lifetime of entertaining combined with a disciplined regimen of daily practice and consistent training is evident in masterful live performances and perfect studio recordings.
Like songbirds Helen Morgan, June Christy and Anita O\'Day, Bennett is originally from Illinois, where she grew up on a musical diet of Big Band melodies and Broadway show tunes. A love of performing lead to a passion for dance and, while in high school, she opened a dance studio at the age of 16. Bennett chassed her way through college majoring in dance performance and, soon after, pirouetted to graduate school in California where she developed her greatest movements; of the lips and the vocal chords.
With a dancer\'s skills and a vocalist\'s talent, Bennett was selected by Jim Nabors to join his Las Vegas revue which eventually toured cross-country. Performing on stage every night in new venues, playing to fresh audiences in different cities, Bennett gained the confidence and experience of a seasoned professional. Soon, she would go on tour to headline her own shows across the globe. From choreographing her dancers to selecting the repertoire of her band, Bennett incorporated contemporary pop covers and jazz standards in her shows. She also cultivated a new passion: songwriting.
By her mid-twenties, Bennett was already a well traveled woman and, certainly, a vocalist of the world. While on tour in Germany, she was scouted and hand picked by multi-Grammy and multi-Academy Award winning composer/producer Giorgio Moroder to join the popular disco group Munich Machine. He chose Bennett to be the lead vocalist for their sophomore album which would contain a dance version of the Procul Harum rock classic \"A Whiter Shade of Pale.\"” Bennett not only recorded the entire album, she also posed for the groundbreaking cover art; entirely naked. Bennett\'s runway model\'s body and movie star looks caused an international sensation and made for one of the highest charting and highest grossing disco albums of 1978.
A full fledged dance music diva under the guidance of Moroder, Bennett was signed to Casablanca Records as a songwriter and recording artist. She recorded as one half of ‘Giorgio & Chris’ for the only duet album of Moroder’s entire career, “Love’s In You, Love’s In Me.” Her distinctly clear voice and high range also backed up some of Donna Summer’s biggest hits, most notably the number one pop hit and Grammy-nominated single “MacArthur Park,” the certified Gold single “Heaven Knows” and the number one certified Platinum “Live & More” album. Bennett again made international headlines when the song she co-wrote and sang the theme from “Midnight Express” was nominated for a Grammy.
By the 1980s, Chris Bennett had established herself as a successful singer, songwriter and producer, occasionally singing back-up for Rita Coolidge and Johnny Mathis. Her songs were being recorded by the likes of Tina Turner and The Manhattan Transfer She co-wrote and co-produced for The Three Degrees, the final Munich Machine album “Body Shine” and the Suzi Lane album “Ooh La La.” She also played a key role in producing for and writing with up-and-coming Grammy-award winning Blues artist Keb Mo.
n the 1990s, Bennett reflected on her career as an accomplished singer, noteworthy producer and popular songwriter. Having performed for others behind the scenes primarily throughout the 1980s, she made a promise to return to the recording studio and the concert stage, this time, for herself. It would also be a return to her first musical love: jazz.
A self titled CD release in 1993 marked the welcomed return of Chris Bennett as lead vocalist. Utilizing the talents of celebrity musicians and introducing new artists, Bennett specialized in creating a musical experience of self composed pieces, some jazz classics and a contemporary cover or two. The success of her debut jazz CD led to a series of future releases that capitalized on this combination. Jazz magazines critically praised her, noting “after a successful career as a background performer, it is a pleasure to welcome Chris Bennett to center stage.”
Since then, Bennett has been a staple of Jazz radio programmers everywhere. The success of her concerts, CD sales and consistent critical triumphs have led to sold-out performances throughout Europe, New York supper clubs and Chicago cabarets. At home in Los Angeles, she continues to be a popular artist and regular club favorite.
Chris Bennett has 10 CDs available which include a Christmas Jazz CD, a Latin Jazz CD, and an import-only live CD released in 2004. A humanitarian of the first order, she has also co-written and recorded a song in memory of the Holocaust survivors (“Remember), as well as a song in support of gay marriage (“Everybody Has the Right). An outspoken artist for social change and an advocate of community activism, locally and globally, Chris is often called upon to perform in benefit of organizations such as SHARE, The Torch Foundation and many others.
From disco diva to jazz chanteuse, the musical journey of Chris Bennett has been the evolution of an artist come full circle. An accomplished vocalist, songwriter, composer and producer, she recently added Broadway musical composer to her repertoire. Her latest CD GIRL TALK is an homage to the classic jazz recordings of a bygone era. Utilizing string arrangements and an all-girl band, Girl Talk is her finest effort to date and charts the musical, personal and artistic growth of a classic jazz vocalist returning to the songs, the strings and the soul of her mentor and friend, the late Anita O’Day.
By David Ybarra
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Marina del Rey, CA 90293 USA
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