Lorraine Foster: Eyeing Cross-Border Prospects

Fradley Garner By

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I so admire Rosemary Clooney, her beautiful voice, her style, her interpretation of lyrics.
Lorraine Foster>Lorraine Foster, a veteran vocalist with a growing reputation as Canada's first lady of jazz, would like to sing south of the border. Ella Fitzgerald was Foster's first vocal idol and spark for a career choice in her late teens. Decades later, another icon has inspired concerts and a CD: Rosemary Clooney.<br /><br /><P><br /><br />Foster hitched her vocal wagon to the departed star with special concerts and a trio-backed album called <em>Remembering Rosie: A Tribute to Rosemary Clooney</em> (self-published, 2007). The great old numbers in sweet Lorraine's tender care will strike a chord, especially with audiences who also remember Rosie:

"I have already performed two Remembering Rosie concerts and am planning to take this show on the road and see where it goes," Foster said, hoping it will go all the way to the jazz heartland in New York and New Jersey. Remembering Rosie is apparently the first Clooney tribute by a Canadian singer. Bette Midler released her homage to Clooney in 2003. Foster's was self-produced mainly for bandstand sales, but it's a good guess that one of the jazz labels may want to pick it up.

Foster has some good reasons of her own to follow in her model's star-steps. "I so admire Rosemary Clooney, her beautiful voice, her style, her interpretation of lyrics, plus all that she endured in the early years, having to record the pop songs she didn't really want to sing. And making a giant and difficult comeback after a nervous breakdown in the early '70s, and subsequent recordings for the Concord Jazz label, which were so wonderful."

Clooney gave her last concert on November 16, 2001 in Hawaii, and was diagnosed with cancer at the end of that year. After surgery she made a last comeback and died in June 2002.

Both singers are products of the same North American musical era. Foster never met Clooney, who began her career in the mid-1940s. Foster is younger and started working in the early 1950s. Both are mezzo sopranos. "I also started singing on radio and then with a big band"—the Art Hallman Orchestra in Toronto, where Foster honed her own vocal style.

The Toronto-born singer moved to Montreal, married and raised three children. There she gigged at Biddles and all the other top venues. Divorced and with a full bag of tune lyrics to draw from, she hit the Canadian jazz club and cabaret circuit and sang at the big festivals: Du Maurier Jazz Festival, Toronto 1990; Saskatchewan 1992; Vancouver 1993, 1995; TD Canada Trust International Jazz Festival, Vancouver 2000, 2004, and 2005.

Lorraine Foster ><br /><br />In 1991, Foster opted to go west, moving to faraway Vancouver and joining another big ensemble, Dal Richards and His Orchestra, for what turned into an eleven-year run. She married the man she'd lived with for fifteen years and headlined engagements at The Cellar, Rossini's, O'Douls, the Cotton Club, and the Alma Street Cafe, the venue of her first recording, <em>Live at the Alma</em> (Jazz Link, 1994). Foster's second and best-selling album was <em>We'll Meet Again</em> (Philor, 1999), with songs from the war years.<br /><br /><P><br /><br />Her third album, <em>Compositions By Musicians</em> (self-published, 2003), is a twelve-track CD with its irresistible here

Foster plans to visit New York and contact booking agents in late spring. A link with the New Jersey Jazz Society and its journal might also lead to performances in North Jersey.

Selected Discography

Lorraine Foster, Remembering Rosie: A Tribute to Rosemary Clooney (self-published, 2007)
Lorraine Foster, Compositions By Musicians (self-published, 2003)
We'll Meet Again (Philor, 1999)
Lorraine Foster, Live at the Alma (Jazz Link, 1994)

Photo Credit
Courtesy of Lorraine Foster


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