More about backup singers

General discussion about Leonard Cohen's songs and albums
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jarkko
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More about backup singers

Postby jarkko » Wed Apr 13, 2005 8:16 am

I'm copying this interesting message by Pod Williams from the Various Positions Board.

Here we go:
I'm still on my (rather obsessive?) quest, and having now heard much of the solo work by Anjani Thomas, Perla Batalla, Julie Christensen, Jennifer Warnes and Corlynn Hanney I'm even more enthused. I'm also reliably informed that Hanney sings alongside Sue Mussmano (a.k.a. Aileen Fowler) on 'Diamond in the Mine', from the 'Songs of Love and Hate' album. Mussmano features on 'Famous Blue Raincoat', from the same album. Hanney and Mussmano also toured with Cohen in 1970 of course - as evidenced by their appearance on 'Live Songs'.

In the meantime, with regard to further clarification on the first two albums, I'm anticipating a response from the redoubtable Fred Dellar, the walking musical encyclopedia, with his own column - 'Ask Fred' - in 'Mojo' magazine.

“The Field Commander's Female Collaborators”:

Jennifer Warren/Warnes: Live Songs/Field Commander Cohen/Recent Songs/I’m Your Man; Tours: ’72 & ‘79

Sharon Robinson: Field Commander Cohen/Ten New Songs/Dear Heather; Tours: ’79 & ‘80

Anjani Thomas: Various Positions/I’m Your Man/ The Future/Dear Heather: Tours: ‘85

Julie Christensen: I’m Your Man/ The Future/Cohen Live; Tours: ‘88 &’ 93

Sue Mussmano (a.k.a. Aileen Fowler): Songs from a Room/ Songs Of Love And Hate [Famous Blue Raincoat/Diamonds In The Mine]/Live Songs; Tours: ‘70

Corlynn Hanney: Songs from a Room/ Songs Of Love And Hate [Diamonds In The Mine]/Live Songs; Tours: ‘70

Perla Batalla: The Future/Cohen Live; Tours: ‘88 & ‘93

Erin Dickins: New Skin For The Old Ceremony/Various Positions; Tours; ‘74 & ’75 [ex-Manhattan Transfer]

Julia Tillman (Waters): Death Of A Ladies’ Man/Recent Songs/The Future

Maxine Willard (Waters): Recent Songs/The Future [sang on M. Jackson’s Thriller]

Donna Washburn: Live Songs; Tours: ‘72

Emily Bindiger: New Skin For The Old Ceremony; Tours: ‘74 & ‘75 [worked with Buster Poindexter, Lou Reed, Neil Sedaka; soundtrack work: Bullets Over Broadway, Everybody Says I Love You, Michael Collins, Mission to Mars, Donnie Brasco, The Stepford Wives, The Hudsucker Proxy, A Chorus Line]
Lorri Zimmerman: Tours: ‘75

Cheryl Barnes: Tours: ‘76

Laura Brannigan: Tours: ‘76

Sherlie Matthews: Death Of A Ladies’ Man

Brenda Bryant: Death Of A Ladies’ Man

Lorna Willard: Death Of A Ladies’ Man

Ronee Bakley: Death Of A Ladies’ Man [supporting role in Robert Altman’s Nashville?]

Clydie King: Death Of A Ladies’ Man

Venetta Fields: Death Of A Ladies’ Man

Bili Thedford?: Death Of A Ladies’ Man

Oma Drake: Death Of A Ladies’ Man

Gerry Garrett?: Death Of A Ladies’ Man

Stephanie Spruill: Recent Songs [worked with Aretha Franklin, Barbra Streisand, Donna Summer, Diana Ross, Talking Heads, Michael Jackson, Placido Domingo, Glen Campbell, Quincy Jones]

Yvonne Lewis: Various Positions [sang with Grover Washington, Jr.]

Lani Groves: Various Positions [sang with Grover Washington, Jr.]

Crissie Faith: Various Positions

Evelyine Hebey: I’m Your Man

Mayel Assouly: I’m Your Man

Elisabeth Valletti: I’m Your Man

Jude Johnstone?: I’m Your Man

Peggy Blue: The Future

Edna Wright: The Future

Jean Johnson: The Future

Tony Warren?: The Future

Valerie Pinkston-Mayo: The Future

Jacquelyn Gouche-Farris: The Future

Evette Andrews: The Future

Gigi Bailey: The Future

Jeralynthia Banks: The Future

Cynthia Bass: The Future

LaShana Dendy: The Future [sang on Coolio’s Gangsta’s Paradise]

Brenda Eager: The Future

Aladrian Elmore: The Future
Patricia Finnie: The Future
Sonya Griffin: The Future

Raven Kane: The Future [sang Your Heart Will Lead You Home in The Tigger Movie]
Nysa Larry: The Future

Roseland Parker: The Future [sings with L.A. Mass Choir]

Dana Stockard: The Future

Carmen Twillie The Future [sang Circle of Life on The Lion King]

Theresa Walker The Future

Mona Lisa Young The Future [worked with Bob Dylan in the 80s]
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Postby tomsakic » Wed Apr 13, 2005 10:16 am

Although I feel stupid repeating myself from another board, here we go:

Jude Johnstone is male, he has duet with Jennifer Warnes on her album The Well (2001).

Julie Christensen wasn't on I'm Your Man album, she and Perla joined Leonard's subsequent tour after the album was released.

Also, Jennifer dueted with Leonard on The Future also, in 1992, songs: Democracy (Perla and Julie are on choruses, Jenny is exclusively with Leonard on lyrics) and Light As The Breeze (she arranged and sung all back vocals!).
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Postby linda_lakeside » Wed Apr 13, 2005 3:22 pm

Light as the Breeze is one of my faves - back-up vocals are really beautiful on this.

Linda.
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Postby tomsakic » Thu Apr 14, 2005 10:08 am

Jennifer always had exclusive rights to work on Leonard's songs. In 1979 she wrote and arranged all back up vocals alone for Recent Songs, in 1985 she duetted completely thru and over the Various Positions (I think that people never noticed that although the album was issued under Leonard's name, inside it says "Vocals by Leonard Cohen and Jennifer Warnes" :!: - the same honour was given to Sharon in 2001 :P ). Her work sometimes really went deep into the song, on I'm Your Man, she sung Tower of Song: Leonard actually had his version on tape just with keyboards and some programming, and she added all those "du-da-dam-ta-di-da-dam" :wink: On Take This Waltz, Leonard brought over his 1986 version (from Poets in New York LP), and she called Raffi, recorded his violin over Leonard's track and added her vocals over Leonard's.
Light as the Breeze - touche! Sadly, it was the end of their co-operation (plus Jennifer's song Way Down Deep on her 1992 album The Hunter - Leonard wrote the lyrics - the whole rhythm is the same as on Ten New Songs (because of familiar Leonard's latest style), the first tw stanzas are reminding on In My Secret Life, the last on A Thousand Kisses Deep (I think that the stanza is actually one of those discarded verses but I must check), and the solution for rhyming is of course form A Thousand Kisses Deep - promises to keep - way down deep...)
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Re: More about backup singers

Postby Jim Williams » Fri Jul 18, 2008 9:33 pm

Ooh, blimey, I'd forgotten all about that list (for 'pod' is yours truly). And I remember Tom correcting me of course! Still, you have to admit, Tom, it wasn't a bad night's work, fuelled as it was by wine and my then relatively newfound passion for all things LC. And I did a pretty good job with the Nancy Priddy/Applegate connections, not to mention being in direct contact with Sylvie Marechal. In the meantime, it's good to know Charlie & Hattie Webb have lived up to expectations :D
Last edited by Jim Williams on Sat Jul 19, 2008 2:55 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: More about backup singers

Postby linda_lakeside » Sat Jul 19, 2008 1:50 am

I don't want to sound nostalgic for times passed, but there was a lot of interesting material that came to light thru and after the release of TNS and DH, old info and photos. I don't make it to the forum much anymore, but I hope these lists,etc. are still being pulled out for the sake of the newer members. Although, his tour is now likely taking the stage (so to speak). A good time also for exploring the beginnings. Looking back and seeing the changes in arrangements on certain tunes. From what I've seen on the newly released videos, he's remaining pretty faithful to the record release arrangements. It's great that Sharon is on this tour, it would be nice if Jennifer were also. But, we can't have it all...I remember being very surprised that Laura Branigan sprang from the background vocals of LC's angels.
~ The smell of perfume in the air, bits of beauty everywhere ~ Leonard Cohen.
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Re: More about backup singers

Postby micropup2008 » Thu Apr 02, 2009 9:42 am

No kidding. I loved Laura's voice and was blown away to see that she sang with Leonard. btw, I think If It Be Your Will was the best example ever of Jennifer's power; her voice sounded fantastic on that song. Does anybody know why she and Lenny "broke up"?
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Re: More about backup singers

Postby tomsakic » Thu Apr 02, 2009 2:56 pm

Well, he left for monastery, and after the return in 1999 he and Sharon started to work on new songs (in the manner of Everybody Knows and Waiting for the Miracle), and after a while it became obvious that it's not only couple of songs but whole "duet-album" (as LC calls Ten New Songs). In between, Jennifer went her own way, did The Well CD in 2001 (superb stuff)... I guess that it simply went like that, the life drags on (as LC said) in separate ways. He probably needed something new - Perla Batalla and Julie Christensen also were around, and even later, they performed in Hal Willner's tribute show from 2001 to 2006, but LC wanted new voices for the 2008/2009 tour band.

Sharon told that for a long time Ten New Songs was being done like a demo-record, with her expecting that her multi-layer vocals will be replaced by singers and programmed lead-tracks with the real-instrument players. But at some point, LC decided that it's their duet-album, solo venture, and that they should produce an album as electronic-album up to the very end, only two of them on board, doing all vocals, production and virtual instruments. And it was honest, I think :) At that time, Leonard already was with Anjani, and they produced Villanelle for Our Time track in May 1999, but the track was left out for Dear Heather in 2004, as Leonard didn't want anything to intrude in Leonard Cohen-Sharon Robinson duet-album.

Of course, as much I adore Ten New Songs, and all Cohen-Robinson "duets" on Dear Heather, and I like the different Cohen-Anjani tracks on Dear Heather (her contribution to a Cohen music is of a different type) - recalling ethereal Jennifer Warnes' duet vocals from Various Positions album, and songs like Take This Waltz, Everybody Knows, I Can't Forget, Tower of Song, and Light as the Breeze, I miss her vocals beside Leonard's on new records. Not that I will replace Anjani from her songs, or Sharon from her songs, absolutely not. Each of them is her own master beside the real master. But I do sometimes think how Warnes was there on all albums from 1979 to 1992, and that her voice is missing.



I could add my own list of best female Leonard Cohen vocalist:
- for the LIVE tour, Anjani playing piano and simultaneously singing during 1985 tour - it's actually Leonard Cohen-Anjani duet thru most of the live recordings
- for a record, Leonard Cohen-Jennifer Warnes duet album Various Positions
- also for a record, but more of a night hours and meditation sessions, Leonard Cohen-Sharon Robinson duet-album Ten New Songs.
(I guess she's in different way equaled with Warnes there. But also it's a different situation, as I never saw Sharon as co-vocalist - she produced, wrote music, co-wrote, arranged... it's her album, in a way, although the lyrics are surely Leonard's.)
- for sleezy, jazzy back-ups on loony songs: Anjani (singing backgrounds for First We Take Manhattan, Jazz Police, Ain't No Cure for Love, I'm Your Man, Waiting for the Miracle, Because Of, The Faith, Tower of Song [U2 version]... (yeah, it's all her)

So, my choice is always somewhere between Anjani live in 1985, Jennifer on Various Positions and Light as the Breeze, and Sharon's Ten New Songs.
Some back-ups went in a wrong way, I'd say - those almost anonymous studio female back-ups for Never Any Good and similar productions (Always, Be for Real). Also, Perla & Julie did it in similar fashion on The Future - they did that song much better on 1993 tour, and the Webb sisters are doing the good job right now with The Future also. One of them (the dark one - Charlie?) is doing beautiful vocal (little dirtier) additions during last verses of Take This Waltz, leaving the usual "angelic" delivery.
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Re: More about backup singers

Postby micropup2008 » Thu Apr 02, 2009 8:07 pm

Jeez Tom, how do you know all this??? :roll: You must be crazier about LC than I am :lol: Got another question perhaps you can answer. I saw two early concerts, one at the Berkeley Community Theater and one I think at the Warfield or Orpheum in San Francisco, both in the early 70s (I think around 1974). I can still see in my mind's eye two beautiful backup singers, both with long blonde hair, both playing guitars. I remember being mesmerized by their rythmic, almost machinelike strumming. Today I'm not sure if my memory is real, or if I just somehow dreamed it over the years. Looking at old videos on youtube, I don't see them. Would you have any idea who they were, or if they in fact really existed the way I remember them?

Second question: On the old youtube videos, there are a number of clips showing LC with two backup singers, one a curly haired blonde who I think was Jennifer W., and a second who is either African-American or Hispanic, also with shorter curly hair. Any idea who the second one was?
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Re: More about backup singers

Postby Maarten » Thu Apr 02, 2009 8:26 pm

I guess you are referring to Perla Batalla...
See the comment on Tom's post on YouTube:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D97OxHZzBeQ

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Re: More about backup singers

Postby Davido » Thu Apr 02, 2009 8:50 pm

The two blonde-haired singers from 1974 would be Emily Bindiger and Erin Dickens.
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Re: More about backup singers

Postby micropup2008 » Thu Apr 02, 2009 8:58 pm

Nope. These vids go way back before Perla's time. You can tell by how young Leonard looks.
Maarten wrote:I guess you are referring to Perla Batalla...
See the comment on Tom's post on YouTube:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D97OxHZzBeQ

Enjoy,
Maarten
Ron
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Re: More about backup singers

Postby Davido » Thu Apr 02, 2009 9:25 pm

The two blonde-haired singers from 1974 would be Emily Bindiger and Erin Dickens.

If the vid you refer to is from 1979 (ZDF RockPop special) then it was Jennifer Warnes and Sharon Robinson.
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Re: More about backup singers

Postby micropup2008 » Fri Apr 03, 2009 1:16 am

Good information. Looked at some old pics of Sharon on the internet; you're right, it was her. Didin't realize she went back that far with Leonard. But wondering if one of the singers w. long blonde hair could have been Jennifer. Old pics also showed her with long blonde hair at certain times. Also enjoyed the old pics of Roscoe Beck. Wow, met Roscoe and Sharon at the fan meetup in Berlin but could hardly tell they were the same people as in their old pics. Both were absolutely charming at the meetup; just regular folks. :D
Davido wrote:The two blonde-haired singers from 1974 would be Emily Bindiger and Erin Dickens.

If the vid you refer to is from 1979 (ZDF RockPop special) then it was Jennifer Warnes and Sharon Robinson.
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Re: More about backup singers

Postby Davido » Fri Apr 03, 2009 2:03 am

Jennifer Warnes toured with Leonard in 1972 and 1979.
Roscoe Beck and Sharon Robinson in 1979 and 1980.
Doesn't Leonard always have THE best musicians and vocalists in his bands? - This is a very valid reason for his repeated band introductions (which has been the subject of some criticism in the current tour).
On a personal level, I really liked the 1979 line-up.
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