|Birth name||Kerrie Agnes Biddell|
8 February 1947|
Kings Cross, New South Wales
|Died||5 September 2014(aged 67)|
|Occupation(s)||Session singer, teacher|
Kerrie Agnes Biddell (8 February 1947 – 5 September 2014) was an Australian jazz and session singer, as well as a pianist and teacher.
Born in Kings Cross, New South Wales, an only child of alcoholic parents, Biddell was sent to St Vincent's Convent in Potts Point at a young age, soon after her father left her mother. In 1962, Biddell suffered a collapsed lung and rheumatoid arthritis, the latter of which affected her piano playing. She decided to become a singer, and, in 1967, sang for Dusty Springfield on backing vocals. Impressed, Springfield suggested she become a lead singer.
The late 1960s
Biddell joined the local band The Echoes, and in 1968, The Affair. Affair guitarist Jim Kelly called Biddell "a world-class vocalist". With her voice, the group could do various musical styles, such as Aretha Franklin-type soul, Sly Stone funk, and Jimmy Webb compositions. In 1969, the national competition Hoadley's Battle of the Sounds added a vocal-group category to its main pop/rock category. Kelly stated that The Affair was not a vocal group, but Biddell "rehearsed us till we were". The group won the category, with its prize being a trip to London, where the group relocated in mid-1970, only to disband months later. Before disbanding, they recorded Sly and the Family Stone's "Sing a Simple Song", which would become one of Biddell's signature songs.
The early 1970s
Biddell returned to Australia in 1970, where she toured with the Daly-Wilson Big Band, which performed swing music. In 1972, she married David Glyde, a former saxophonist for Sounds Incorporated, who opened for The Beatles on tour. Glyde had contacts in Canada, and he and Biddell moved there. Her career as a session singer began soon after. She and her husband toured in the United States, including clubs in Las Vegas. She was offered a three-year six-figure USD contract with the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino, and, despite being desperate to be a star, she discovered she did not care for the business side of Vegas. "I started to see that the amount they wanted to take away from me was too much," she stated, and moved back to Australia in 1972, enrolling in the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.
Biddell became a solo singer, and her first album won two Australian Record awards. She and Glyde divorced in 1977. She sang on hundreds of jingles, film scores and television shows, including the theme from Sons and Daughters (1982–87). In 1983, she joined the faculty of the Jazz Diploma course at the Conservatorium, where she periodically taught into her later years. In 1992, she wrote a one-woman show, Legends, which later included June Bronhill, Lorrae Desmond, Toni Lamond, and Jeanne Little. In 2001, due to poor health, she retired from performing, but continued teaching.
- Kerrie Biddell (1973)
- The Exciting Daly-Wilson Big Band (1975, featuring Kerrie Biddell)
- Only the Beginning (1975)
- Compared to What (1979, featuring Kerrie Biddell) Australia's first digitally recorded album - pressed on vinyl
- The Singer (1999)
- O'Grady, Anthony (9 September 2014). "Kerrie Biddell, first lady of Australian jazz". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 9 September 2014.
- "Australian jazz star Kerrie Biddell dies". The Australian. 5 September 2014. Retrieved 9 September 2014.
- McFarlane, Ian (1999). "Encyclopedia entry for 'The Affair'". Encyclopedia of Australian Rock and Pop. St Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 1-86508-072-1. Archived from the original on 3 August 2004. Retrieved 9 September 2014.
- Kimball, Duncan (2002). "The Affair". Milesago: Australasian Music and Popular Culture 1964–1975. Ice Productions. Retrieved 9 September 2014.