In our collective memory, Fred Astaire holds a special place in our hearts: he is the quintessential charming hero of so many timeless musicals and his gravity defying grace, rhythm and creativity continue to inspire thousands. Another less evoked aspect of his talent is the fact that he was the artist for whom so many unforgettable songs that have since become essentials in the jazz repertoire were originally written. It’s even said that illustrious composers such as George & Ira Gershwin, Irving Berlin and Cole Porter preferred Astaire’s renditions of their songs over more virtuosic singers.
Starting dance classes at the early age of 5, and being exposed to the music from the great classical musicals, it was inevitable that Wendy Lee Taylor became passionate about dance and its music. Almost unconsciously, it was through this musical repertoire that Wendy discovered her vocation. After so many years learning to sing, dance and choreograph, she was infused with the universe of Fred Astaire.
After numerous engagements in Australia and Japan, Wendy left the antipodes, to join the Lido de Paris where she become one of the legendary Bluebelle Girls. It was an enriching experience, but Wendy found she was also drawn to Jazz which threw another take on all the tunes that had filled her youth. It was natural that she was drawn more and more to a singing career leading her to the West-End in London, back to the Lido where she sang for fifteen years and on to Parisian jazz clubs and festivals around France and in her native Australia.
This project “Remembering Fred Astaire” is not just a tribute. It represents a pilgrimage, a voyage into the musical universe of an authentic creative whose imagination has allowed us all to dream. Of course, there’s no doubt she could resist the temptation to pull her tap shoes out of the cupboard where they have been gathering dust for far too long!