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Photo by Andrew Fawcett
|Birth name||Lena Annie Whitehead|
July 16, 1955|
Oldham, Lancashire, England
|Genres||Jazz, big band, ska, pop|
|Associated acts||Penguin Cafe Orchestra|
Whitehead learned the trombone in high school and participated in rock and jazz bands. When she was 16, she left school to become a member of a female big band led by Ivy Benson. She played with the band for two years before moving to New Jersey. Unhappy with the life of a musician, she quit music for almost six years. She returned in 1979 and started a ska band. She took an interest in jazz again after moving to London two years later and performing in pubs. In the 1980s, she toured with Brotherhood of Breath, a big band led by South African pianist Chris McGregor.
During her career, she has worked with ...And the Native Hipsters, Blur, Carla Bley, Charlie Watts Orchestra, Jah Wobble, Jamiroquai, John Stevens, Penguin Cafe Orchestra, Smiley Culture, Spice Girls, and Working Week. She was a member of The Zappatistas, a Frank Zappa tribute band led by guitarist John Etheridge.
In 2006, she joined The Wrong Object for a series of gigs recorded on the album Platform One. In 2007, she played on the album Comicopera by Robert Wyatt, the founder of Soft Machine. She has worked extensively with her partner, singer, musician, and producer Jennifer Maidman, and teaches jazz at London's Centre for Young Musicians.
- Mix Up 1984
- This is ...Rude 1994
- Naked 1997
- The Gathering 2000