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gERMANY, rOCK AM RING - 1985 JUST ONE OF the many SHOWS THAT REMAIN VIBRANT IN OUR HISTORY
Jill was born in Tooting, London. There was never any doubt she was going to be an entertainer. When Jill reached 16 she knew it was time to get serious and break into the business. In the seventies women played a small role in the British music scene, there were the pretty pop girl singers, american soul trio's and aggressive rock chicks with little or no femininity. Jill was a big fan of progressive jazz rock and decided this should be the first style of band she should look for.
The Melody Maker was the musicians bible in those days and all great acts were generally formed from this paper. Jill saw an advert looking for a great male vocalist 'with balls' and thought the job should be hers! Needless to say she got it through sheer cheek and determination. The band was called Fusion Orchestra and set out to dominate the British club scene from 1969 through to 1972. Fusion Orchestra gained a massive fan base and later secured a recording deal with EMI. Their first album 'Skeleton in Armour' recorde at Abbey Road Studios received critical acclaim and is now regarded a collectors piece and a highly sought after record. ill played a revolutionary role in Fusion Orchestra, she was young, blonde, powerful and above all sexy. The group were banned from many towns because of the explicit stage show, it was press grabbing material, tame stuff looking at it now, but at the time. Jill proved to be an outstanding performer with a powerful voice and tremendous stage presence.
Fusion Orchestra began to develop an exciting visual stage act, adding a custom light show.In 1971. The group made several personel changes after the first album and remained touring for a further 2 years. Fusion Orchestra had the pleasure featuring Alan Murphy for subsequent tours.
After Fusion Orchestra split Jill took a completely different musical route and joined all girl group called 'Brandy' a total change of music, almost bubble gum, but still great fun. Brandy were 'snapped' up by Polydor who tried to emulate the all girl group 'The Runaways' Brandy spent three years touring the UK and Europe but finally split in 1976. Jill had always written her own material and took a year out developing her songs, whilst in the studios she was singled out for session work by various artists and producers and made a good name for herself on the session scene.
A band leader called 'Nicky North' just happened to be recording a soul cover album and decided to offer her a job performing live at the world famous 'Cats Whiskers' Jill jumped at the chance and once again was thrown into a totally new musical area. The experience she gained with the band was invaluable, every month she recorded a cover album and also backed some of the finest american soul and cabaret artists of the the seventies. During one of their shows a French producer from 'Orpheus Productions' decided Jill was the ideal female vocalist to build a super group around. The french production team had a dream to create a female pop sensation that would be as big as 'The Beatles'. There was five girls. Jill's image was to be a wild gypsy, and the other characters were a cheerleader, a space queen, a sporty type and a cute baby looking type, does that sound a little familiar? Well it was back in 1979, the Spice Girls was also still fairy dust. The band was called 'Citizen Gang' and yes, you'll find some rare footage somewhere in the bowels of the internet.
In 1980 and whilst commuting back and forth from Paris to the UK, her former band mate Nigel Wright had put together some interesting demos with Roger Odell and Bill Sharpe, inspired by the new wave of jazz funk emerging from the USA. The music was initially instrumental based but Nigel suggested a cool layer of female hook lines. Jill was working with a fellow session singer Jackie Rawe and the two helped create the golden unison tones that shaped the sound of Shakatak.
After many different vocal partners it was decided the the band would remain a five piece with additional backing vocalists on the world tours and albums. Jill still remains the lead vocalist and percussionist with jazz funk legends 'Shakatak' Throughout the Shakatak years there were many highlights Jill recalls, one of them is collaborating with Al Jarreau on the Saward/Anderson composition 'Day By Day' This track helped highlight the band in the USA, yet to this day an American tour still eludes them.
In 1999 Jill produced her first solo album 'Just For You' - featuring the genius that is Jason Rebello. She had always been a fan of his music and was delighted he was able to collaborate on the project. George Anderson along with Jill have created a mellow, jazzy fusion of passionate tracks that still resonate after over a decade since release. Jill remains very proud of the album which she claims exposes 'peices of my heart and soul in every bar'
40 years on and the band seem to have found endless support and energy from their loyal worldwide fan base thus ensuring the band still tour and record new albums every year. Jill still writes records and tours wth Shakatak. Go to www.shakatak.com for all of the latest news and shows in your area.