Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Ponsonby Divas

Published in Ponsonby news July 2010

Ponsonby Divas

Beverley Jean Morrison known to all as Beaver, was sadly lost to cancer on the 23rd May 2010. Beaver had been sick for some years, but like the diva she was, she soldiered on for as long as she could. A farewell was held in the Auckland Concert Chamber and her wake Sale St bar, where we celebrated her life friendship and talent.

Beaver’s musical experience started in the band Blerta in the early 1970’s and she became internationally known after performing in Ronnie Scott’s famous jazz club in London during the 1980’s. Ronnie had come to Ponsonby to check Beaver out and invited her to perform at his club. Her subsequent album was the jazz album of the year in 1988.
The re-release of Girl Talk is out and features Beaver, Lynn Lorkin Julie Mason and Candy Alderton- Conway, if you would like to have a bit of Beaver in your collection, this would be a fine choice.

Over a few beers at Beaver’s wake, many of us talked of ROCK ‘N’ ROLL PONSONBY. There was a time when rents were cheap a working wage was livable and could purchase rock n roll heaven and Ponsonby was Bohemia. It attracted writers, dancers, poets and playwrights and produced some bloody good footballers too! We also recalled many of the great musicians who both entertained us and partied with us. We talked of the long gone and much lamented Glue Pot as well as other good local watering holes and performance venues. Among the bands and singers that we talked about included Tommy Adderley, Tommy Ferguson, Dragon, Hello Sailor, DD Smash. Suburban Reptiles, Street Talk, Jive Bombers, Topp Twins, Tigerness, Supergroove and Che Fu. Talk also turned to the international acts like Lucinda Williams. Midnight Oil, Rod Stewart and Mick Jagger who dropped by to strum a guitar and sing a few songs.

Conversation came to the Divas; Rock ‘n’ Roll in Ponsonby has never been just about the blokes. Great singers who sang a diversity of musical genres such as Trudy Green, Truda Chadwick,Hattie st John, Lynn Lorkin and others who have lived the Ponsonby rock dreams.

Talk then switched to the 21st century divas who are doing the hard yards and are now enjoying commercial success. Three worthy of note are Anika Moa, Hollie Smith and Kirsten Morrell. All of them have CDs out which have been critically acclaimed

Anika Moa’s latest album is titled Love In Motion and she is on the road performing all over the country promoting her CD and drawing good reviews for her live performances
I had hoped to catch her at Galltos on Friday 4 June . However, if I didn't manage to get there , Im content in the knowledge that I have in my collection a really great album and know that come summer I will be able to catch her on tour.

Hollie Smith is a talented soul singer who has to date released four albums, the latest being Humour and the Misfortune of Others. This Diva has good musical genes with her father Paul being a well known Auckland Blues man, currently performing with his band The Gunsmiths. Hollie was unlucky enough to miss out on a Bluenote contract in America, largely because of the recession of 2008/09 which has racked havoc in the music industry. Hollie has bounced back with a great album which really highlights the soul quality of her voice. Hollie is also touring nationally and is a worthy distraction on any night of the week.

Rounding out this talented trio is Kirsten Morrell. Kirsten is a talented songwriter and singer and also a pretty good breakfast cook! The Great Ponsonby Art Hotel employed Kirsten in the mid 1990’s as a breakfast cook and have watched her musical career through her former band Goldenhorse. Her first solo album which is Ultraviolet has been well received and is selling well. Kirsten is also involved in the Fair trade movement. Recently at the Woman’s Bookshop she hosted an event in support Fair trade where she baked her own cakes and attracted support from the Ponsonby business community and the wider community .Among the speakers was Labour MP Jacinda Ardern also spoke on the fair-trade message
Kirsten is currently in the U.K. where she has among her performances one at the legendary Isle of Wight .

These three woman do more than carry a candle, they truly are the 21st century Divas of Ponsonby in their own right and have the potential to take NZ music to the world. Each have their own website, face book and You tube spaces so we can all keep up with their brilliant careers, and they are far more exciting and fresh than the Three Tenors.