Artists: Annie Haslam's Renaissance
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Annie Haslam's Renaissance Biography
Renaissance was formed by Jim McCarthy and Keith Relf, following the split of the Yardbirds in 1968. The band recorded their first album, the self titled Renaissance in 1969. Following this release there were a series of live dates in Europe and America. In 1970 the band began recording a second album, Illusion, which received a limited release in Europe in early 1971. By this time, Renaissance had become so fragmented that none of the original members were left. The band would however continue with various line-ups, until stabilising in the early seventies. Renaissance then achieved massive critical and commercial success, led by vocalist Annie Haslam.
Annie Haslam is an English progressive rock vocalist, songwriter and visual artist. Annie is best known for her 5 octave voice, and for being the lead vocalist for the English Classical Rock band Renaissance. She was born in Bolton, Lancashire; a cotton mill town. As a child Annie wanted to be a nurse, a ballet dancer, and later and more realisticically, a fashion designer. She became a fashion student in Cornwall, and ended up working for several clothing designers in London, before ending up with a Saville Row tailor, where she admits that she learned much more than she had learnt being in the fashion houses!
Then came the music…
There was already music flowing through her family. Her Father ‘George’ who had been an amateur comedian singer (he was a tenor) and Brother Michael, who was managed by Beatles manager Brian Epstein. He toured with the Beatles on their Christmas package-tour in the early 60’s.
But it was much later when Annie realised that she too was a singer.
She began studying under opera singer Sybil Knight in 1970 and developed her extraordinary five-octave vocal range. In 1971, she became the lead singer of Renaissance after answering an ad in The Melody Maker. She auditioned for the band in Surrey, and the rest is history. Renaissance produced a surprising amount of groundbreaking music in a surprisingly short period of time. It only took five years for them to go from playing small clubs to shows at the Carnegie Hall and later The Royal Albert Hall.
In 1977, she began her solo career with her album Annie in Wonderland, which was produced by Roy Wood who played most of the instruments, and who also duetted with her on one track ‘I Never Believed in Love’. The album was a new venture for Annie, Roy taking her into different realms of music from jazz to pop to classical!
Annie also performed ‘Reaching Out’ with the London Symphony Orchestra on the Intergalactic Touring Band album. She has since released eight studio albums, three of which were released through her own record label, White Dove Records. The highlight of that CD collection being Still Life with The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Louis Clark. A semi-classical masterpiece.
In 1989 Annie secured a record contract with Epic records and released a slelf titled album produced by Larry Fast. Annie co-wrote a song called 'Celestine' with Larry, and she also wrote a song with Peter Bliss called ‘One Love.’ Justin Hayward was a guest on ‘The Angels Cry,’ a song that he had written originally for Agnetha from ABBA.
She has also collaborated with Steve Howe, Raphael Rudd, Pete Townshend, Phil Collins, Justin Hayward, Tony Visconti and the Carl Perkins family, to name but a few.
The ‘Live’ Studio Concert, recorded in Philadelphia in 1997 was Annie’s first solo DVD release.
Annie released an EP called Night and Day, her first solo recording for some years, with Welsh rock band Magenta in 2006. The song was specially written for her by the band. Annie - who had recently become a painter - contributed the artwork for the EP; the art inspired by a story told to her by Christina from Magenta!
Then came the Art….
This came out of the blue when she first started back in 2002. But she has spread her wings artistically since, and become very prolific. Her paintings grace the walls of homes across the world including China, Russia, Japan, Germany, Holland, Switzerland, England, USA, Canada, South America, and Italy. Annie had three pieces of art shown in the Florence Biennale in Florence Italy in December 2005.
In addition to Gallery showings she has four hand painted guitars in various Hard Rock Cafes and was commissioned by Martin Guitars to paint one of their Dreadnought acoustic guitars which is now displayed in the company’s guitar museum in Nazareth, PA. They also commissioned her to paint an acoustic guitar for the NAMM Music Convention, LA in January 2007. Apart from keeping her art gallery stocked with new paintings online, Annie paints commissioned electric violins for Wood's Violins. Mark Wood who owns the company is lead violinist with Trans Siberian Orchestra.
Annie currently resides in Central Bucks County, Pennsylvania, USA and along with fellow Renaissance bandmate Michael Dunford has reformed ‘Renaissance’ and is currently recording and touring the world.