Speakers Profile - Renee Geyer

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Renée Geyer is Australia's most respected and successful soul singer.

Her career began in around 1971 in Sydney when a girlfriend took Renée along to the rehearsal of friends who were forming a band. Renée was encouraged to get up and have a sing and was instantly invited to join as singer. Although she was so shy in the beginning she couldn't face the audience, musicians noticed her, and Renée was invited to join one more experienced band after another until she became part of an ambitious jazz-fusion group called Sun in 1971. Renée was still just 19.

After one album (Sun '72) Sun and Renée parted company, Renée eventually finding herself part of a group called Mother Earth, still with jazz leanings but also incorporating the soul and r&b Renée loved and excelled at. With Mother Earth she started touring, and offered a solo recording contract. She insisted that Mother Earth provide the backings on her first album. For her second album Renée was invited to record in Melbourne with producer Tweed Harris (ex-Groove), who had assembled the cream of Melbourne musicians to work on the record. Renée formed a strong bond in particular with members of Chain, and by the time the 'It's A Man's World' album was released and her version of the James Brown title song was a big hit, Renée was ready to throw her lot in with those musicians rather than be a solo performer. It was the beginning of The Renée Geyer Band, and Renée's relationship with Mushroom Records, Chain's record label. Although she was still signed to RCA, Mushroom negotiated a special deal where they would record Renée but RCA would release the records.

Her two solo albums had been cover versions or sourced songs. Apart from the single 'Heading In The Right Direction' which came with guitarist Mark Punch, The Renée Geyer Band wrote the songs for 1975's 'Ready To Deal' album in the studio, and toured extensively. A live album 'Really.. Really Love You' followed.

Next, Renée jumped at the chance to record an album in Los Angeles with Motown producer Frank Wilson. While the 'Movin' Along' album provided another hit at home, in America 'Stares And Whispers' created confusion. R&B stations loved the record, but didn't know what to do when they discovered Renée was white. For the next few years Renée bounced between Australia and America, working in Australia and recording two more albums in America. When 1981's 'So Lucky' album presented her with a huge hit with 'Say I Love You', both in Australia and New Zealand, it became necessary to put the American dream aside for two years. In 1983 Renée returned to base herself in America permanently, still keeping in touch with her Australasian fans with tours. Her recording career had momentarily dried up.

While in America Renée became part of a group called Easy Pieces with former members of the Average White Band, but the album took so long to record by the time it was finished the group had never performed and were going their separate ways. Renée spent several years in America doing session work for Sting ('We'll Be Together') and others, touring with Joe Cocker and Chaka Khan and others, and writing songs.

During one foray back to Australia Renée was invited to sing the Paul Kelly song 'Foggy Highway' for the 'Seven Deadly Sins' TV soundtrack. Kelly was so impressed by Renée's version he offered to produce an album, and wrote some of the songs, including the title track, 'Difficult Woman'. The working relationship with Paul Kelly was such a happy and satisfying one, Renée decided to base herself back in Australia. With Paul Kelly and Joe Camilleri producing she recorded 1999's 'Sweet Life' album.

At the end of 1999 Renée released her book, 'Confessions Of A Difficult Woman'. 2003's 'Tenderland' album, her own stylized versions of some of Renee's favourite songs and stage favourites became one of the most successful albums of her long career. She followed up with the adventurous 'Tonight', produced by Magoo and returned in 2007 with ‘Dedicated', with a combination of new songs and more favourites.