(Photo: Patricia Steur)
October 15, 1966 |
Beverwijk, The Netherlands
Ilse Huizinga was born in Beverwijk, the Netherlands in October 1966 and grew up in Nijmegen. It was an old piano given to her family at the age of six, which first drew Huizinga to music. Inspired by Ella Fitzgerald, Billy Holiday and Abbey Lincoln albums, her fascination grew further when she watched Betty Carter sing at the North Sea Jazz Festival. At the age of 17, she took her first singing lessons. She later studied with John de Mol Senior and Gertjan Arentsen in Amsterdam.
She regularly took part in open mike nights at the jazz club Casablanca, in the heart of Amsterdam's Red Light District. However, music did not feature heavily on her career ladder until she spent a year in Australia and finished a degree in Public Administration at the University of Amsterdam. Huizinga subsequently studied at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam with Sylvi Lane, including master classes by Dianne Reeves and Margriet Eshuis. She has toured in Spain, Turkey, Switzerland and France, and regularly performs in the United Kingdom. A winner of the Schiedam Jazz Award, she has represented the Netherlands at the international jazz festival in Vienne, France.
KLM selected Huizinga's debut album Out Of A Dream for its in-flight entertainment programme. On Voices Within she recorded her own voice five times, resulting according to critics "some of the best close harmony for decades". Her third album The Sweetest Sounds was voted Album of the Week on Dutch radio and is played on specialist jazz radio stations across Europe. Her informal debut was at Ronnie Scott's, and she has also performed at Concertgebouw and Amsterdam's Bijlmerbajes prison.
In 2001 Ilse Huizinga recorded an album exclusively devoted to the songs of Richard Rodgers, entitled The Sweetest Sounds. It was met with instant acclaim by the critics and nominated for Holland's oldest and most prestigious music award, The Edison Award.
There are several albums featuring selections of jazz standards on Daybreak Records that are highly regarded by critics, Voices Within, shows a multi-vocal side to Huizinga's talent, The Sweetest Sounds is an acclaimed 2001 highlight, whilst The Intimate Sessions - Volume 1 was recorded in 2006 specifically to meet demand in the Japanese market. Easy to Idolize (2003) and Beyond Broadway (2005) find Huizinga on form in selections of the Great American Songbook, accompanied by a stellar lineup of European jazz musicians.
In 2011 Ilse Huizinga launched Vocal Jazz Trip, a specialist tour operator based in Amsterdam that hosts vocal jazz master classes and jazz themed citybreaks in Paris, Berlin, Rome, New York City, Prague, London and other major cities.
Her voice is described as "warm and sexy", ""clear and pitch-perfect"", "a voice of which other singers only dream; full, clear and sensitive." (Nouveau). Her classical training shines through in genuine coloratura, whereby "she manages to fit entire octaves into a single syllable - great that the poignant lyrics meanwhile never suffer." (De Volkskrant) In interviews, Huizinga has said that the death of her father and her traumatic pregnancy have deeply affected her singing. "I used to be totally focused on technique. Now I'm no longer such a perfectionist, no longer focused on pretty singing. Emotions and the deeper meaning behind the lyrics have become much more important to me."
Collaborations with other jazz artists
Other notable collaborations include double bass player Sven Schuster, percussionist Frits Landesbergen and double bass player Ruud Jacobs, who is said to have been coaxed out of retirement for Huizinga's 1999 album Voices Within. It was Jacobs who suggested dubbing Huizinga's voice five times to create a close harmony sound on this album.
Ilse Huizinga's father died from cancer when she was 22, which made her determined to follow her dream of pursuing a singing career. She met the pianist, composer and arranger Erik van der Luijt when her regular pianist fell ill and he stepped in at the last moment before a performance in Amsterdam. They married in Leiden in 1998. Their daughter Ellen was born ten weeks prematurely on April 1, 2000 after Huizinga suffered from preeclampsia.
- 1997 - Out Of A Dream (Own production)
- 1999 - Voices Within (Own production)
- 1999 - Erik van der Luijt - En Blanc Et Noir 2 (Challenge / Daybreak)
- 2001 - The Sweetest Sounds - Ilse Huizinga Sings the Music of Richard Rodgers (Challenge / Daybreak)
- 2003 - Easy to Idolize (Challenge / Daybreak)
- 2005 - Beyond Broadway (Maxanter Records)
- 2006 - The Intimate Sessions - Volume 1 (Own production)
- Download sample You Stepped Out Of A Dream (Herbert Brown/Kahn), from the 1997 album Out Of A Dream
- Almost Like Being In Love (Lerner/Loewe), from the 1999 album Voices Within
- Download sample of the 2005 album "Beyond Broadway"
- "Ilse Huizinga... a superb vocal treat." Emyr Williams, BBC Radio
- "Ilse Huizinga is likely to take Europe by storm, maybe even by hurricane" - Florian Stenschke, Jazz Radio Berlin
- "Ilse really dares to let herself go, approaching everything with remarkable ease and above all with a consistently wonderful jazzy sound." - Kees Polling, Trouw
- "Huizinga has a powerful, mature - and above all also warm and beautiful - voice which is superbly versatile. She bends and stretches it to her liking. A tender ballad or an upbeat song; either she shows to their full advantage. Fearlessly, she encounters her vocal boundaries. Ilse combines guts with innovation, dances right on key across half interval runs and presents the lyrics with such integrity, such conviction that she has already captured the listener's ear. In this self assurance great singers distinguish themselves from the endless numbers of so-called great talents" - Jan Rensen, De Gooi- en Eemlander
- "Very promising. Her wordless introduction to the song The Old Country sounds so magnificent, it's like an angel descending from heaven. Ilse's voice is perfect. Her delivery is exceptional in the way she treats dots and comma's in an unexpected manner..." - Ruud Kuyper, Algemeen Dagblad
- "With this second production the singer and the pianist/arranger manage, if anything, to amaze even more. The warm, sexy voice and the once again outstanding selection of tried and tested standards can be enjoyed in yet another new approach. Ilse has ingeniously dubbed her own voice and this has resulted in sublime multi-vocal jazz. The intro for five voices of Almost Like Being In Love is comparable to the best close harmony since the legendary Singers Unlimited, who gained a reputation in the Seventies using the very same technique." - Imme Schade van Westrum, AVRO Radio
- "A singer with a wonderful voice, a wonderful band and wonderful arrangements. Ilse is anything but a clone, possessing an instantly recognisable sound. She sings one hell of a lot fuller and more convincingly than many an American diva launched with clever marketing hype." - Jeroen de Valk, Het Parool
- "Ilse Huizinga has a very pleasant presentation and a beautiful voice with an outstanding technique and diction. Moreover, she dares to take chances. Upbeat or slow songs, songs that seem easy or songs that require some virtuosity; she handles all with remarkable ease" - Trouw
- "All the hallmarks of an international diva in the making" - Armand Serpenti, Trouw
- "A nightingale with a golden voice. She sings sensual jazz with a modern tinge" - Cosmopolitan
- "A voice of which other singers only dream; full, clear and sensitive. With this golden voice she sings the wonderful arrangements of Erik van der Luijt" - Nouveau
- "A singer with a marvellous, beautiful voice and an interpretation all her own" - Marie Claire
- "Wonderful repertoire, great arrangements, excellent musicians and a singer with a beautiful, strong voice" - Greetje Kauffeld
- "Ilse Huizinga is an astonishing jazz talent" - Willem Duys, AVRO Radio
- "One of the strongest of the new generation of Dutch jazz singers. In the title song we get genuine coloratura, in This Can't Be Love she manages to fit entire octaves into a single syllable - great that the poignant lyrics meanwhile never suffer." - De Volkskrant
- "Clear and pitch-perfect voice, an original colouring of Rodgers' songs" - De Gooi- en Eemlander
- "Ilse adds a whole new magic to the songs of Rodgers." - Elegance
- "Delicious late-night listening" - Expatplus
- "Beautiful and flexible voice, wonderful arrangements" - Tubantia
- "On his way out my singing teacher remarked, "By the way, why don't you become a professional singer?" and all I could think was: "Kidding, right?"
- "We did some weird gigs, surrounded by screaming pin-ball machines, on working dairy farms and at jazz festivals where hardrock cafés had decided to put on some jazz for one night only. When we played at Amsterdam's high security prison, staff removed knives, forks and even pencils before the show. Our bass player was too terrified to look up all night."
- "I was able to tell Abbey Lincoln in person how much her music moves me. That it's as if we're soulmates. On her departure I asked if I could kiss her and she said "Gimme a hug!" She was like a saint to me and it still gives me goosebumps."
- "The record companies were not exactly waiting for me. But an album is a business card for a wide audience. So when the labels gave no response, I produced my first album myself. We did everything. I cycled around record stores in the middle of winter. Boy, did I learn a lot from that about what I want and don't want."
- "Legislation has killed off live music in pubs and clubs in Amsterdam. There is no sandbox, no playground for jazz anymore."