Lucy Woodward is an English-American singer-songwriter. She has released four studio albums on Atlantic Records, GroundUP Music, and Verve Records. Her fourth album Til They Bang On The Door was released on Snarky Puppy bandleader Michael League's label, GroundUP Music/Verve/Universal. She has also contributed to a number of movie soundtracks and has performed backing vocals for Rod Stewart, Barbara Streisand, Snarky Puppy, Celine Dion, Pink Martini, Gavin DeGraw, Joe Cocker, Chaka Khan, Nikka Costa, and Randy Jackson. She co-wrote Stacie Orrico's Top 40 worldwide hit "(There's Gotta Be) More to Life," the same year her own Top 40 single "Dumb Girls" charted in 2003. Woodward also currently has a duo project with guitarist Charlie Hunter.
Woodward was born in London, and she is the daughter of British conductor and composer Kerry Woodward and his American wife Julie Woodward, who studied opera and was a former staff editor of The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. Her parents helped edit a production of Viktor Ullmann's opera Der Kaiser von Atlantis and mount its first performances in many countries. Her father was also a conductor for the BBC Singers, and when her father was appointed musical director of the Netherlands Chamber Choir, the family moved to Amsterdam. Two years later her parents separated, and Woodward, her brother, and her mother moved to New York near her maternal grandparents—James Halitsky, a meteorologist, and Sylvia, an educational psychologist at a residential treatment centre for court-referred children. Woodward's mother worked on the Grove Dictionaries, bellydanced professionally, and became a music teacher in the public schools of New York City.
Raised on classical and Middle Eastern music, Woodward studied piano and flute before asking for singing lessons at age 12. She attended a Bronx high school renowned for its music department. She made her first recordings singing house music in her friends' basements. Every summer she went to music camp and to the Netherlands, where she frequently locked herself in her father's studio and listened to jazz and old R&B records. At the age of 16, Woodward was accepted into the Manhattan School of Music to study jazz, but after a year she decided to learn songwriting and performing on her own. She spent the next few years performing in swing organ trios including The Sugarman 3, working as a session singer, waiting tables, and singing jazz standards in restaurants in Greenwich Village.
2003: While You Can
In 2003 Woodward signed with Atlantic Records and recorded her debut album While You Can, which entered the Top 150 on the Billboard 200. The album included Woodward's Top 40 hit "Dumb Girls", which she had written with producer Kevin Kadish prior to signing with Atlantic Records. Other songs on While You Can were produced by John Shanks at Jim Henson Studios, who previously worked with singers Michelle Branch and Sheryl Crow. In support of the album, Woodward toured internationally and appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
The following year, Woodward was asked by producer Jaime Houston to record the big-band tune "It's Oh So Quiet" for the Disney film Ice Princess. The song was first recorded by Betty Hutton in 1948, and later covered by Björk on her 1995 album Post. Woodward considers it a turning point in her career and the inspiration for much of her second album, Lucy Woodward Is...Hot and Bothered, as she began to move past pop music.
2008: Lucy Woodward Is...Hot and Bothered
Woodward began her musical reinvention on her second album, Lucy Woodward Is...Hot and Bothered, which was independently released in 2008. The album incorporated R&B grooves and electronic beats, while mining deep-rooted jazz influences. Hot and Bothered was produced by longtime collaborator Itaal Shur (Santana, Maxwell, Groove Collective) and Tim K (Estero, Les Nubians). Barnes & Noble named Woodward Artist of the Month for August 2008, and Hot and Bothered was distributed exclusively by B&N as part of its Discover Great New Music program. The song "Hot and Bothered" takes its melody from a Yiddish lullaby that Woodward's grandmother sang to her as a baby.
Woodward's third album, Hooked!, was released in 2010 by Verve. The album was recorded at Stratosphere Sound in New York City and Jim Henson Studios in Hollywood. It was produced by Tony Visconti and included contributions by Tim K, Justin Stanley, and Itaal Shur. Woodward wrote much of the album with Dan Petty and Michelle Lewis, saying that she had been inspired by the music of Peggy Lee and Django Reinhardt. The album also received comparisons to Dusty Springfield and Brill Building. The song "Another Woman" was written for her by longtime inspiration Nellie McKay, who sang background vocals.
Woodward toured throughout the US, including with jazz fusion band Snarky Puppy, who played on her cover version of "Be My Husband" by Nina Simone. In late 2011, she was also asked by Armed Forces Entertainment to perform at American military bases in Italy, Turkey, and Spain.
2011: Pink Martini
In 2011, Woodward was asked to tour with Pink Martini after the band's singer, China Forbes, had surgery. Her quick study of Pink Martini's repertoire of Croatian, Japanese, French, English, and Turkish songs received critical acclaim. She toured with Pink Martini throughout North America, with performances at the Toronto Jazz Festival and Montreal International Jazz Festival and with the San Francisco Symphony, conducted by Donato Cabrera.
2016: Til They Bang On The Door
In 2016, Woodward released her fourth album Til They Bang On The Door on Snarky Puppy bandleader Michael League's record label GroundUP Music. The album was co-produced by Michael League and keyboardist/arranger Henry Hey (David Bowie, George Michael) and mixed by Nic Hard. It features organist Cory Henry and core musicians from Snarky Puppy along with many New York City friends and longtime collaborators such as Everett Bradley (Hall & Oates, Bruce Springsteen), who is featured on the Nina Simone duet "Be My Husband". Other musicians on the album include Grammy-nominated cellist and trombonist, Dave Eggar and Alan Ferber, respectively, and New York City busker Natalia 'Saw Lady' Paruz on musical saw. Lucy says she "wanted to make a dark record of crazy, low brass instrumentation with feminine vocals. I wanted to surf on a wave of horns.”
Collaborations, Awards, and Other Work
Woodward has contributed songs to several film soundtracks, including Last Vegas, The Blind Side, Ice Princess, Music and Lyrics, What a Girl Wants, First Daughter, and Accepted. Her rendition of Björk's hit cover of 'It's Oh So Quiet" (Betty Hutton) was featured in Birds of Prey and the Disney film Ice Princess. She co-wrote the Stacie Orrico Top 40 worldwide hit "There's Gotta Be More to Life," which earned her a BMI Christian Music Award in 2003 and a BMI Songwriter's Pop Award in 2004. Originally called "More to Life," the song was written with Kevin Kadish and Sabelle Breer for Woodward's 2003 Atlantic debut, but was released instead on the Japanese import version of the album as a bonus track. In 2010, Woodward co-wrote and recorded "Daylight As Sunset" for Earthrise Soundsystem's debut The Yoga Sessions. Woodward also appeared in the 2011 Garry Marshall film New Year's Eve where she played the backing vocalist for Jon Bon Jovi and Lea Michele. Woodward was featured in the September 2011 issue of Italian Vogue as one of the year's top up-and-coming female recording artists.
In 2012, Lucy was featured singing “Too Hot To Last” on Snarky Puppy’s Family Dinner – Volume 1, their first album with vocalists. In 2013, they won their first Grammy Award in the Best R&B Performance category for their rendition of the Brenda Russell song "Something", sung by Lalah Hathaway. Lucy re-recorded "Too Hot To Last" on her 2016 release Til The Bang on the Door with a backdrop of trombones and low brass.
A frequent visitor to Kenya and Rwanda, Woodward organizes an annual benefit concert for the Cura Orphanage (outside Nairobi) at Jim Henson Studios. She has performed four times for the United Nations, most recently for the UN Mine Action Service and at the Millennium Development Goals Awards, which was attended by 3000 international dignitaries. Woodward also sang for Desmond Tutu at a benefit for the Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation.
Woodward and recording artist Holly Palmer and songwriter Michelle Lewis first came together to sing at a Christmas Party in 2010 and decided soon after to write swing and boogie songs under the name The Goods. They released the single "I'm So Happy That It's You" in May 2013, followed by a 5-song debut EP later that year and a holiday EP titled Get Your Holiday Goods! in 2018.
Woodward guested on American Idol judge and noted producer Randy Jackson's 2008 album Randy Jackson's Music Club, Vol. 1, singing the duet "Willing To Try" with Richie Sambora and Travis Tritt. Woodward has also sung background vocals for Celine Dion, Rod Stewart, Carole King, Joe Cocker, & Monkey House on the 2016 album Left.
Woodward collaborated with fellow Brooklyn musician Josh Shneider, singing several songs on the Big Band album, The Love Speaks Orchestra. She sang with a nineteen-piece band. On the album released in October 2013, Woodward sang three Josh-penned originals ("Cute Little Nightmare" and "The Hurting Kind" & "When Love Speaks"; lyric by Finian McKean) and a cover of the Tony Bennett standard (by Kurt Weill) "Lost in the Stars".
- While You Can – 2003
- Lucy Woodward Is...Hot & Bothered – 2007
- Hooked! – 2010
- Til They Bang On The Door – 2016
- Music!MusicMusic! (with Charlie Hunter) — 2019
- The Goods EP – 2013
- The Joshua Shneider Lovespeaks Orchestra – 2013
- The Barbie Diaries (Movie Soundtrack) (song: "Real Life") – 2006
- "Dumb Girls" – 2003 (No. 34)
- "Blindsided" – 2003 (No. 94)
- "Trouble With Me" – 2004
- "Slow Recovery" – 2007/2010
- "Ragdoll" – 2010
- "Be My Husband" – 2012
- "Happy That It's You!" – 2013
- "Kiss Me Mister Histrionics" – 2016
- "Live Live Live" – 2016
- "Sans Souci" – 2010 – Originally recorded by Peggy Lee, written by Peggy Lee and Sonny Burke for the album Lover (1964).
- "Stardust" – 2010 – Written by Hoagy Carmichael (1927). Lyrics added later by Mitchell Parish (1929).
- "Lost in the Stars" – 2013 – Written by Kurt Weill (1949). Lyrics by Maxwell Anderson. From the musical Lost in the Stars (1949).
- "Be My Husband" – 2012 – Originally recorded by Nina Simone and written by Andrew Stroud for the album Pastel Blues (1965).
- "I Wan'na Be Like You (The Monkey Song)" – 2010 – Originally recorded for Walt Disney's 1967 film, The Jungle Book. Recorded by Louis Prima and written by Robert and Richard Sherman.
- "Fashion" – 2010 – Originally recorded and written by David Bowie for the album Scary Monsters (1980).
- "It's Oh So Quiet" – 2004 – Originally recorded by Betty Hutton (1951). Written by Hans Lang and Erich Meder (German lyrics). English lyrics by Bert Reisfeld.
- "Another Woman" – 2010 – Written by Nellie McKay for Woodward for her album Hooked!.
- "The World We Knew (Over and Over)" – 2012 – Recorded by Frank Sinatra for the album The World We Knew (1967). Written by Bert Kaempfert, Herbert Rehbein, Carl Sigman.
- "Don't You (Forget About Me)" – 2006 – Originally recorded by Simple Minds (1985).
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