Dianne hails from Virginia, USA, where she completed her Music degree at George Mason University. Her postgraduate studies were completed in Sydney with luminaries such as Alan Hicks, Judy Bailey, Virna Sanzone, and Michelle Nicolle. A multi-talented artist, Dianne has recorded backing vocals for many artists including Barbra Streisand (Timeless, 2000). She has performed everywhere from the Capitol steps in the USA to the Sydney Opera House.

When did singing and jazz music first enter your life, and who were some of the artists that influenced your style?

America is infused with jazz. Mama used to wake me up in the morning by singing On the Sunny Side of the Street. I’d hear it in kid’s shows such as Sesame Street, Mr Roger’s Neighbourhood, and Schoolhouse Rock. Jazz vocalist Blossom Dearie sang to me about adjectives! Daddy also listened to big bands and the greats like Nat King Cole. I didn’t sing as a child, but I studied classical piano and was drawn to Chopin and Beethoven. I also played the saxophone and was into fusion bands Spyro Gyra, The Rippingtons, Jean Luc Ponty, and Dave Grusin being my favourites. Jazz vocals entered my life when I first heard Linda Ronstadt’s big band albums with the Nelson Riddle Orchestra. It wasn’t until the age of nineteen that I began singing gospel, sacred, opera, acapella, and jazz. Madama Butterfly’s Un Bel Di to Orange Coloured Sky to Take 6 arrangements. I would listen to Lucine Amara from The Met, Sting, Mel Torme, Manhattan Transfer, Harry Connick Jr, Karen Carpenter, and Tuck & Patti. My voice coach at the time said I had to choose opera or jazz (not both!) or he wouldn’t teach me, so I chose opera at university. I still needed to sing jazz, as I wanted the freedom to interpret music my way, but I had to wait until the time was right. I retrained my voice seven years ago by doing my shows, and then one day a song came out and I began writing the songs that now appear on my debut album. Kristin Berardi and Lizzy McAlpine have inspired me with their tender-hearted and vulnerable songwriting.

What are your current musical projects?

I’ve been overwhelmed by the global support of my debut album, I Told the Ocean Your Name. It has already had tens of thousands of streams and a 4/5-star review in The Australian. I was so fortunate to have Emmy award-winning producer Sean Carey to engineer the project and I am so proud of the work that we created with my band and songwriting partner Matthew Thomson. I’m currently writing all the arrangements for two new shows that are still secret. I’m very excited about premiering them in the coming months.

Life as a musician is full of challenges. What are some of the challenges that have confronted you so far and how have you overcome them?

The first challenge is being from overseas and having to network constantly (so it’s good that I’m a chatty gal!). There is endless marketing, trying to get responses to emails about gigs, and of course, getting the bums on seats! I’ve surrounded myself with strong creatives who give me the emotional support that I need to keep pushing forward. You must be relentless and keep knocking on those doors even when your knuckles start to bleed.

What are some of your other interests outside of your musical career?

I am inspired by landscape photography. The title and the artwork of my album are inspired by my trips to the beach. You can view what I shoot on Instagram @keeping_it_crippsy. I’m always getting soaked by waves or waterfalls. I love the challenge of learning new equipment and software and doing grade-5 hikes to amazing places. I also enjoy listening to lectures on psychology, neuroscience, and Buddhism. I believe that to be a better artist, one needs to be incredibly introspective and understand how the mind works. It helps me be a more honest songwriter as I like to explore complex emotions.

You’re home alone on a Sunday evening and want to chill listening to some music. What would you choose to listen to and why?

Gregory Porter, Kurt Elling, Nancy Wilson, and Kristin Berardi have been staples in the last few years for their artistry and songwriting. Cue Gregory Porter’s Water Under Bridges because he poignantly captures how we have felt when we’ve had our hearts broken.

By Barry O’Sullivan.