Monday, 29 October 2007

Queen of the doo-be-doos

Oh Lordy! Dame Cleo Laine is 80 years old...

Admittedly the grande dame of slightly dodgy "scat" jazz does seem to have been around forever, but it is quite scary to think she's an octogenarian!

Cleo was born Clementina Dinah Campbell in Southall, West London, and during her long career progressed through a variety of stage and musical theatre productions until she hit the mainstream with her marriage to Johnny Dankworth and subsequent career in the very trendy modern jazz scene of the 1960s.

She was not always, however, just a "doo-be-doo" singer of sometimes irritating intensity. She worked with some of the greatest musical writers of the 20th century, and brought genuine vocal mastery and emotion to numbers such as Matelot and Mad About The Boy in a little-known (but a personal favourite!) revue called The Words and Music of Noel Coward, with a seemingly bizarre cast that included Dickie Henderson, Joyce Grenfell and Kenneth Williams. She worked with Sondheim on a production of A Little Night Music, and other notable collaborators included Ray Charles, Mel Tormé, James Galway, George Shearing, Nigel Kennedy, Julian Lloyd Webber and John Williams. And she is still performing today!

Here is an example of just some of this fabulous lady's magic:

Read more about Dame Cleo on her website

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