“Lady” is a sumptuous collection of songs featuring many popular classics made famous by the legendary singer Billie Holiday. Vocalist Lynne Fiddmont’s new release offers many highlights including an All Star cast of musicians including George Duke, Christian McBride, Gerald Albright, Brian Simpson, Kirk Whalum, Billie Childs, Rickey Minor, Freddie Washington, and many others.
“LADY” is a breath of fresh air. The arrangements take a fresh new approach to songs we’ve heard for years. Fine and Mellow, Night and Day, and All the Way are instant favorites for the adult contemporary, soul & jazz crowd.
The desire was to create something new while maintaining the integrity of traditional jazz. The most traditional of the 10 tracks is the title cut “Lady”, a composition by Lynne Fiddmont and Andrew Ford, who co-produced and arranged the entire project.
“It’s a new Day,” says Lynne Fiddmont about her new release. “It‘s contemporary music for the seasoned music lover”. While undoubtedly individual, Lynne Fiddmont’s, “Lady” is likened to such contemporaries as Esperanza Spaulding, Jill Scott, and Norah Jones, covering a wide range of jazz styles. She easily glides over the arrangements channeling Billie Holiday without copying, but with a sense of her spirit. “LADY” is a fitting follow-up to her debut release, FLOW, which boast of airplay still on many Quiet Storm stations around the country.
“Lady” is quality music, featuring outstanding musicianship and Lynne’s honey smooth voice gliding effortlessly over stunningly fresh arrangements that both surprise and delight.
As far back as I can remember, Billie Holiday was a name I just knew. I didn’t know much about her, but I knew her unique, one-of-a-kind voice. Once you heard her, you couldn’t forget her. Sometimes she was brash and others she was silky smooth. I couldn’t quite decide whether I liked her or not, but I clearly remember the first time I got a glimpse of her genius.
I was in college visiting my good friend, vocalist, Carla Cook. Neither of us majored in music, (I hadn’t attended Berklee yet), but we both sang around town with some of Boston’s finest musicians. She went to Northeastern and I went to Boston University, so, when we got together, we had plenty of catching up to do. One particular day, we decided to listen to Billie Holiday. The afternoon started as usual with lots of laughter and the sharing of secrets. We soon noticed however, that we had stopped laughing. We had stopped talking. We found ourselves staring blankly at each other. Billie had done what many singers only dream to do, make us feel something. We changed the music immediately.
When “Lady Sings the Blues,” starring Diana Ross came to the theater, we got to know her personal struggles. So years later when I played Billie Holiday in a Los Angeles musical, “Dark Legends in Blood”, I came to appreciate the many layers of her craftsmanship. Her rhythm, often back-phrased, is impeccable and her note choices are unpredictable, understated, and educated.
The great paradox about Billie Holiday is, as unique as her voice is, it is, at the same time rather ordinary and attainable. Most singers have tried to imitate her, but few have even come close.
This CD is not an attempt to copy Billie Holiday. It is however an attempt to introduce a new Day and bridge the gap between the past and the future and usher Miss Billie Holiday into the 21stcentury.
St Louis native, Lynne Fiddmont grew up in the close-knit community of Maplewood/Richmond Heights. Her early years consisted of school, hopscotch, Double Dutch, selling Girl Scout cookies and things every other little girl in Richmond Heights was doing. Hers is a life that took a turn that changed an ordinary life into what many would consider extraordinary.
Besides an occasional Easter speech or Little Flower dance recital, Lynne’s early life was free of any big dreams as a performer. Her career goals ranged from being a hair stylist, a dancer, an engineer, an umpire, but not a singer. “I had no idea that I could sing.”
Her life was not void of music, in fact her family was known for music. Her aunts and uncles made up the popular gospel group, Doris Frazier and The Fiddmont Singers. Her cousin Leon Burke III is an accomplished conductor, and her brother Keith Fiddmont is a gifted jazz saxophonist. But Lynne has no recollection of consciously choosing a profession in music.
“I DON’T REMEMBER BEING DRIVEN, BUT EVERYONE REMEMBERS ME THAT WAY.”
As a young teen, Lynne, out of boredom, joined the neighborhood band, Manteca. They played family reunions and talent shows. As it turns out, Manteca was a good training ground for a young group. “We were just kids, but we wrote songs and recorded them in a professional recording studio.” “We were ahead of our time.”
At 15, Lynne’s mother took her to New York to see The Wiz on Broadway, starring Stephanie Mills. She was so impressed with the production that it peaked her interest. That same year Lynne got the lead in a school play, Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town”. Her next role was Dorothy (The Wiz), a school production featuring a medley of Broadway Musicals. Her teacher, Vicky Boren asked her if she could sing. Lynne shrugged her shoulders and said, “Kind of.” “I don’t know”, “I’ll try it” So try she did. She received a standing ovation after singing her trademark song, “Home”. That moment was truly a turning point for Lynne. Miss Boren saw promise in Lynne and set up a meeting with jazz vocalist Asa Harris who gave Lynne her first professional experience by letting her sit in on her set. “Home” carried her a long way. She won the local Junior Miss Miss Pageant and placed third runner up in the regional pageant.
She spent her first year of college at Drake University where she sang in small coffee shops but in her desire to sing on a bigger stage, Lynne transferred to Boston U where her career took another step forward.
She earned her BS degree in Public Relations at Boston U. The entire time she was in school, she sang 4 nights a week. After graduating and very little luck getting a job, she began to sing in the Boston Commons during lunch where she made enough money to sustain herself. While singing in the Commons, a professor from Berklee School of Music saw her and offered her a Scholarship, which she gladly accepted. There she formed many professional relationships.
Next stop, Los Angeles CA. Lynne left Berklee to move to the west coast. She spent the summer in St. Louis, working and saving money for her move. While there, she met Jerry Williams who sent her demo tape to the Crusaders who hired her sight unseen for their summer tour. She was on her way.
Soon after arriving in LA and working temporary office jobs, She was offered a tour with Bill Withers. When they finished the tour, she quickly got popular on the Los Angeles music circuit as a local artist doing her own gigs and as a background singer.
Her next big audition was with Lou Rawls. She landed that job and met Rickey Minor, who provided her a constant stream of television work including The Grammy’s, MTV Music Awards, The UNCF Telethon, VH1 Awards, America’s Got Talent, American Idol and most recently A Performance at the White House for President Barack Obama.
If there is such a moment, the single most defining moment in her career was the opportunity to join Stevie Wonder’s band in 1986. The audition was a cattle call with hundreds of singers and Lynne was the only one who was chosen that night.
Besides touring with Stevie Wonder, Lynne has explored many musical ventures with artists such as Phil Collins, Whitney Houston, Babyface, Christian McBride, Queen Latifah, Stanley Clarke, Joe Zawinul, Barbara Streisand, B.B.King, Elton John, Nancy Wilson, Dave Brubeck, George Duke, Kenny Loggins, James Ingram, Patti Austin, Eric Benet, and many more.
Her recording career as an artist began in 1990 as part of a duo, Linsey, where she was the voice of the group on their Quiet Storm debut “Perfect Love”.
Her solo debut release, ”Flow” in 2006 gained critical acclaim here and abroad, is still a favorite today.
“Lady” is a ten-song tribute to Miss Billie Holiday. This much-anticipated release promises not to disappoint with such guest artist as George Duke, Christian McBride, Billy Childs, Kirk Whalum Gerald Albright and many others.
Lynne co produced “Lady” with producer, Andrew Ford. They first collaborated on of Flow’s more popular songs, Cupid.
”Flow” (Tenure/MidLife Records) is available on I Tunes/Amazon/and Borders
“Lady” (MidLife Records) will be available on I Tunes and CD Baby and various local stores upon her release later this month. For updates, check www.lynnefiddmont.com.