Swingle was born in Mobile, Alabama. He studied music, particularly jazz, from a very young age. He was playing in Mobile-area Big Bands before finishing high school. After high school, Swingle graduated Summa Cum Laude from the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. He then moved to France, where he studied piano with the celebrated Walter Gieseking. In the 1960s he was a founding member of Les Double Six of Paris, then took the scat singing idea and applied it to the works of Johann Sebastian Bach. This concept would be the foundation for The Swingle Singers, a group Swingle founded and whose early recordings won five Grammy Awards.
When the French group of Swingle Singers disbanded in 1973, Swingle moved to London and formed an English group, expanding the repertoire to include classical and avant-garde works along with the scat and jazz vocal arrangements.
In 1984 Swingle returned to live in America. Though he remained musical advisor for his London-based group, he devoted most of his time to workshops, guest conducting and the dissemination of his printed arrangements through his publishing company, Swingle Music.
His pioneering ideas in new choral techniques have produced invitations to conduct the Stockholm and Netherlands Chamber Choirs, the Dale Warland Singers, the Sydney Philharmonia Motet Choir, the BBC Northern Singers and the MENC National Honors Choir at Kennedy Center. Over the last ten years[when?] he has given a long series of workshops and seminars at universities in both Europe and North America.
In March 1994 Swingle and his wife moved back to France, where he continues his work in arranging, composing and guest conducting. He has recently[when?] written an autobiography and treatise entitled Swingle Singing, in which he defines 'Swingle Singing' techniques with illustrations from his arrangements and compositions.
- Ward Swingle Bio at www.wardswingle.com
- Ward Swingle Bio at www.singers.com
- Ward Swingle filmography at the Internet Movie DataBase (imdb.com)
- | BACH & friends Documentary