Women in Jazz
Directed and Edited by Joel Checkley and Produced by Belinda Ensor for Museums Australia (Victoria)Contributors
Reproduction of this content for public purposes must be approved via Museums Australia (Victoria).Copyright
Museums Australia (Victoria)
Women in Jazz
Jazz musician Rebecca Barnard introduces three women - Margret RoadKnight, Judy Jacques and Margie-Lou Dyer - who have helped shape jazz music in Victoria.
I Know Where You’re Going, written by Peter Farnan, copyright Universal Music Australia Pty Limited, performed by Rebecca Barnard.
Tain’t Nobody’s Business If I Do, written by E.Robbins / P.Grainger, copyright EMI Allans Music Australia, performed by Margie-Lou Dyer and recorded live at Bennetts Lane Jazz Club by Hayley Miro Browne.
I’m so Glad Jesus Lifted Me, traditional, originally recorded by Marcus Herman of CREST Records Australia and Digitised by Geoffrey Orr in 2007, performed by the New Orleans Yarra Yarra Jazz Band featuring Judy Jacques at Melbourne Town Hall Concert.
Look What the Storm Brings, written by Judy Jacques, copyright Wild Dog Hill, performed by Judy Jacques and recorded live at Festival of the Wind, Flinders Island, 2000 by Mark Johnson.
Thank you to Rebecca Barnard, Margie-Lou Dyer, Margret RoadKnight, Judy Jacques, Marcus Herman of CREST Records Australia, Peter Farnan, Mel Blachford, Hayley Miro Browne and Mark Johnson.
Hello, I’m Rebecca Barnard and I am a musician. I come from a long line of jazz musicians. My father was Len Barnard who was a drummer and I’m here to talk about some influential women in jazz.
I suppose I’m not know so much as a jazz singer because I had a pop band Rebecca’s Empire that did quite well, you know, Triple J loved us, and, oh those were the days. That was the 90s. But I’ve always sung jazz, that’s sort of like my first love, you know, it’s like breathing. It’s sort of effortless.
There are several women that come to mind when I think about Victorian jazz, or women in Victorian jazz. The first one being Margret RoadKnight who best known for the hit she had in 1977 which was more a folk song ‘The Girls in Our Town’.
Girls in our town leave school at sixteen, they work at the counter or behind the machine.
It’s just, it sucks you in immediately, it’s real life.
Margaret is not your stereotypical type of female singer/songwriter. She’s very tall. And she started off like I did really, just harmonising with her sister while they were doing the dishes, and you know jotting down lyrics here and there.
And then she started performing at Traynors, which was a Jazz Club in Melbourne, and really started to expand into Jazz and the Blues by becoming Frank Traynor’s Jazz Preacher’s vocalist.
And then she began her recording career and the first single ‘Girls in our Town’ reached the top twenty and she toured internationally and, but you know I think the reason her career didn’t go further than it did was because she didn’t want to play the game, she didn’t want to be told what to do, she had her own unique style and she stuck to it and managed to have a career that is still going to this day.
Another very unique female artist is Judy Jacques.
She started very young. She joined the Yarra Yarra New Orleans Jazz Band in 1963 and that opened a lot of doors for her. She did a lot of television work. She wasn’t singing Jazz as such, it was sort of Bluesy, Jazzy. And she eventually moved into experimental voice.
She started to collaborate with visual artists and poets. She was very ahead of her time.
She won a Bell Award for her album in 2003 called ‘Making Waves’ which is, has been called Experimental Folk Jazz fusion. You know, she’s not afraid to delve into her ‘self’ which can be confronting I think for a lot of singers. And I see that as being very brave. She’s been a wonderful role model for a lot of women, including me.
Someone that I could not leave out is Margie Lou Dyer whose had a big influence on me, and we go back a long way.
Our connection really goes back to our fathers. Wocka Dyer, her father, who was a brilliant trombone player, and who very sadly died when Margie was I think eighteen months old and my father, Len Barnard, the drummer they played together. So we’ve always had this connection.
Margie really learnt to play Jazz piano by listening to her dad’s records. I think that, you know, that’s were she got her Jazz sensibility from, like I did, listening to my dad’s records, they just sort of saturate you whether you like it or not, ‘cause their sooo good.
She’s been in about eight or nine bands and she, whenever you talk about it she still says, ‘it’s a man’s world’. But no musician male or female that I know, that can play the sort of piano that she plays and then her voice on top of that, it’s just beautiful, it’s, she’s a totally natural musician.
It’s just an honour to know her, really.
And that’s what I love about jazz and particularly women in jazz. It’s not a phony thing, it’s the real deal.