Words cannot adequately convey the magic of Beverley Sheehan’s voice, which internationally has been described as “enticing”, “glorious”, “exuberant”, “swinging”, “spellbinding”, “moving” and “heart-warming”; superlatives usually reserved for none but the greats in the entertainment world.
But it’s not really so surprising, because Beverley is the sister of one of Australia’s legends Judith Durham, whose own golden lead vocals took The Seekers to the world stage in the 1960s. Audiences often find that same magic in Beverley’s singing, but they also comment on Beverley’s uniquely magnetic charisma and glamorous appeal on stage, and popular choice of versatile material in her own world of traditional jazz.
Beverley’s interest in that infectious and sometimes bluesy repertoire began in her late teenage years when she started listening to the early jazz luminaries Fats Waller, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday and others, but she always acknowledges that her main inspiration as a vocalist comes from Ella Fitzgerald, Mel Torme and Carmen McCrae.
There was much music in Beverley’s childhood home with classical piano lessons for six years, and she later sang in choir and madrigal groups at school. But her career as a singer did not really begin until she was 31 when she was given her start in the music business by Melbourne legend Smacka Fitzgibbon in 1970, and continuing at ‘Smacka’s Place’ for the following two years with the much revered trumpeter Frank Johnson & His Fabulous Dixielanders.
After a period overseas where she avidly soaked up any opportunities to see and hear international jazz at its best, Beverley returned to Australia in 1977 and her professional career took off in earnest as featured vocalist for 18 months with the band of well-known jazz trumpeter Roger Bell (brother of renowned Graeme Bell). She built her name further afield by guesting with many other big name bands like Steve Waddell’s Creole Bells and Allan Leake’s Storyville All*Stars with whom she recorded three albums (‘Wabash Blues’, ‘Everything Old Is New Again’ for the ABC, and ‘Easy Does It’).
In the mid 1980s Beverley took a starring role in the jazz-oriented floor show at Banjo’s Theatre Restaurant, and in the highly entertaining shows of the Melbourne Jazz Repertory Company – touring nationwide and often delighting capacity audiences in major venues like the Melbourne Concert Hall. In those shows, as well as captivating audiences as a solo concert artist, Beverley also enjoyed singing in harmony with vocal and instrumental trio Vocalion.
Further proving her enduring popularity, in the early 90s, Beverley led her own resident trio for four years at Hotel Le Meridien, one of Melbourne’s leading international hotels; and nationwide, Beverley has gained love and respect as special guest artist: at prominent Jazz Clubs in most capital cities, numerous Jazz Festivals (including Sydney’s Manly, Noosa, Wangaratta and Newcastle Festivals), and many times at the annual Australian Jazz Convention. In particular, every year since its 1988 inception, Beverley featured at the Monsalvat International Jazz Festival – one year coordinating the special segment “Australian Women In Jazz”.
Drawing on her versatile and entertaining repertoire Beverley has also sung at many corporate functions, weddings and private parties throughout Australia and internationally. In Thailand for four consecutive years she guested for the Amari Hotel Group with The Storyville Jazztet, and two years running the group performed for more than 1,000 people at the Australian Embassy in Bangkok during Australia Day celebrations.
During her career Beverley has also performed with many internationally recognised Australian jazz greats, such as pianist Graeme Bell and trumpeter Bob Barnard, and guesting with many bands in the recording studio through the years since the early 90s, Beverley has amassed a substantial repertoire; at the request of long time musical associate and mentor Allan Leake, Bev recorded with his band The Storyville Jazztet on three albums (‘The Storyville Jazztet With Very Special Guests’, ‘The Taste of Jazz’, and ‘Towards 2000’ recorded and broadcast by ABC Sydney). Meanwhile in 1991 she recorded alongside the great Tom Baker in Perth on the album “The Gum Nut Stompers With Special Company’, and in the same year recorded her own much-loved album “How Long Has This Been Going On” with her group Swing Shift which was first formed in 1982 with Allan Leake. In 1995 Beverley gained international recording credentials as special guest with Japanese jazz band Dixie Jive on their CD “Dixie Jive” with arrangements by Graeme Bell.
In 2003, a very popular compilation CD was released by Musicoast. “Beverley Sheehan & Friends: Spreadin’ Rhythm Around” features 21 standout tracks from Beverley’s impressive back catalogue.
As well as jazz club and concert performances, Bev has also made television appearances (notably Bert Newton’s ‘Good Morning Australia’), co-starred several times with Nina Ferro in Christmas Jazz concerts at Melbourne’s St Paul’s Cathedral (co-producing the show on one occasion with renowned pianist Helen Jowsey), and played the role of Vera Lynn in the musical ‘For The Boys Over There’, highlighting to great advantage the beautiful nostalgic vibrato in Beverley’s own voice.
Beverley also took part in ‘The Sweethearts of Rhythm’ (a show featuring the musical arrangements of the all-girl orchestra of the 1920s) at the Melbourne Concert Hall and Mietta’s Restaurant, and subsequently took part in a memorable tribute to the late Mietta O’Donnell.
Being born under the sign of Gemini, Beverley’s mercurial personality enables her to combine her work as a gifted numerologist and experienced astrologist along with her musical career. Now a seasoned performer in her own right, Beverley presented five two-hour one-woman productions (‘Tribute To The Female Blues Singers’, ‘Crème Des Femmes’, ‘It’s Alright, It’s OK, It’s Peggy Lee’, ‘Golden Girls Of The Silver Screen’, ‘Spreadin’ Rhythm Around’), and for several years, Beverley has been a special guest at the extremely popular annual Noosa International Jazz Festival singing with many different bands.
Beverley’s also triumphed performing before a crowd of 25,000 people with the Monash Concert Band at their ‘Carols By Candlelight’ presentation, to great acclaim.
SPELLBINDING, HEARTWARMING AND ENTICING
“BEV SHEEHAN’s glorious voice featured in Billie Holiday’s ‘God Bless’ The Child” the spiritual “What A Friend We Have In Jesus, and the final number of a close-on three hour show, a Duke Ellington medley.” [MACKAY JAZZ FESTIVAL]
The Daily Mercury, Mackay, Australia
“BEVERLEY SHEEHAN is an enticing vocalist: tough and down in the dumps like Bessie Smith in some songs, swinging with the exuberance of an Ella Fitzgerald or (Betty) Carter in others.” [COLE PORTER TRIBUTE]
Courier Mail, Brisbane, Australia
Publicity & Promotion for Beverley Sheehan:
Musicoast Pty Ltd
PO Box 555, South Yarra, Vic. 3141
Beverley Sheehan and Friends: “Spreadin’ Rhythm Around”
The magic of Beverley’s warm and friendly voice always touches her audience and is so reminiscent of Judith Durham, who is of course her sister. Beverley embraces time-honored classics in her own style, hot jazz, blues and standards such as ‘Georgia On My Mind’, ‘Rose Of Washington Square’, ‘La Vie En Rose’ and ‘Lulu’s Back In Town’.
Beverley on Radio
Listen to Beverley on 3WBC 94.1 FM with Rev. Bill Livingston, presenting two hours of jazz and fun on the second Wednesday of every month, from 12.00 til 2.00pm. Click here – http://www.3wbc.org.au/ – to listen live online.