@ Ronnie Scott’s, London
7 June 2005
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Born in Miami, Florida, Carmen Lundy has been performing as a Jazz
vocalist and composer for at least three decades. She has been inspired
and encouraged by her mother (a respected gospel singer). Lundy
studied piano from the age of six. She would later follow her mother
by joining the church junior choir. Her passion and determination
would lead her into performing at local high schools as part of
the vocal duo “Steph and Tret”. Her first recording,
“The Price Of Silence” would soon follow.
Lundy studied opera at The University Of Miami, but later converted
to Jazz and never looked back. She performed at clubs in Miami and
travelled to Europe and North Africa, after graduating with a degree
in Studio Music & Jazz. Lundy moved to New York in 1978 and
began performing throughout the Tri-State area, Harlem and Greenwich
Lundy also finds the time to teach and offers master classes across
the globe from Australia, Denmark and Japan. She has participated
in many programmes such as The Betty Carter Jazz Ahead Program,
where both Carmen and her brother Curtis (an established bassist)
have performed as guest artists. Lundy’s paintings have been
exhibited in New York at the Jazz Gallery in Soho, The Jazz Bakery
and the Madrid Theatre in Los Angeles. She also includes samples
of her work within the booklets in her albums.
Not content with all the above activity, Lundy still finds time
to perform in theatre plays. She has performed the lead role as
‘Billie Holiday’ in the Off-Broadway play “They
Were All Gardenias”, as well as taking the lead in “Duke
Ellington’s’ “Sophisticated Ladies”. Her
television debut came as the star of the CBS pilot- special “Shangri-La
Plaza” in the role of Geneva.
Lundy still continues to work on many projects, while composing
and recording new material. Her “Something To Believe In”
2003 release brought her an even larger audience. This will no doubt
increase as her work continues to reach even greater heights.
I first witnessed Ms Lundy’s ‘dramatic’ performance
at Ronnie Scott’s four years ago. I have fond memories of
a certain ‘look’ she gave me when I attempted to discreetly
photograph her back then. ‘That look’ stayed with me
for years! This time round it was clear from the start that her
dramatic presence had not faded. This time round she was happy to
see me with my camera and notebook.
Lundy is able to fill Ronnie Scott’s with her presence alone.
Though I had not seen her for years, I turned to receive a warm
smile from her at the club door entrance. Though I had my back to
the door, I felt her energy before actually setting eyes on the
lady herself. Her positive energetic aura continued onto the ‘well
trodden boards’ of Ronnie Scott’s stage.
You have to be ‘ready to receive’ Carmen Lundy’s
full on approach. There were a few individuals who were not familiar
with her music, whom clearly found the experience draining. I personally
adore Lundy’s fresh, honest and theatrical delivery. I am
also familiar with most of her self-penned compositions, such as
the delightful “These things you are to me”, or the
melancholy edged, but strangely uplifting “Better days”.
Lundy has the ability to reach into the heart of every song and
wash it until it is thoroughly drenched with her own emotions. This
openness gives the listener an insight into “Carmen Lundy”.
Even the most emotionally jaded amongst us could really feel the
song “Send me somebody”.
Lundy’s exceptional sense of rhythm and playfulness is sometimes
taken for granted. The fact that you get so enthralled within the
song itself, you forget just how complex the structure and arrangement
is. This is testament to Lundy’s prowess and integrity as
a singer / performer, especially when you really listen closely
to songs such as “My favourite things”, or “Firefly”.
All the above combined with her unique operatic approach and the
powerful, persuasive upright bass lines from Curtis Lundy, you have
a formula that is no less than magical. She is one of a handful
of singers who’s vibrant energy flows better live than when
being reproduced from a cold digital reproductive source. (Better
known as CD).
Lundy clearly enjoys ‘who she is’ and takes pleasure
from knowing her audience are soaking up all she has to offer. Just
judging by her facial expressions and body language when a few groups
had left early (1:30 Am), due to work commitments. It seems she
would feel as though she had failed if anyone had left her gig not
feeling no less than ‘ecstatic’!
You have probably realised by now that I have been a long time
admirer of Carmen Lundy. Not only by her voice and music, but also
of her vibrant paintings. I woke up the next morning with Carmen
Lundy’s voice and the rich sound of Curtis Lundy’s bass
sweetly reverberating in my head.
Carmen Lundy – Vocals, Curtis Lundy – bass, Lage Lund
Robert Glasper – piano – keyboards, Victor Lewis - drums
© Michael Valentine Studio Ltd.