Annie Sellick may be compared to the greats - “Ella’s playfulness, Carmen’s attitude, Betty’s instincts and Anita’s flair…” (Greg Lee, WMOT jazz radio).But, she is unequivocally and undeniably an original.Don’t let her southern drawl, as sweet as biscuits n’ honey, cause you to make assumptions, because there is nothing shy or demure about Ms. Sellick’s control - of the stage, the music, her sound, and her audience.
It’s quite obvious she is totally at home as a live performer, immediately engaging her audiences with an innate ability to make everyone in the room feel like she is performing just for them. But these special gifts aside, it’s Annie’s pure talent as a musician that is earning her rave reviews and a growing fan base around the world.
Annie lives in Nashville, Tennessee; however, she is quick to tell you “growing up in ‘Music City’ I hated country music.”But Nashville is home base for some of the finest musicians in the world playing every genre of music."I have had the opportunity to play with a very talented pool of Nashville-based jazz players, and it has been a great place to cut my teeth and learn. These days I am learning from Nashville musicians of all styles.There is such a high level of musicianship here, and the support of the community is unparalleled.”
At first, Annie had no intention of pursuing a career as a performer, which would likely have led to “a roller coaster life and living in her parents’ basement at 30!”Then one evening in a “dive bar” near the college she attended in Middle Tennessee, Annie sat in with guitarist Roland Gresham. “The only standards I knew were ‘Fever’ and ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” she remembers, laughing.“I sang ‘Fever’ and everybody went berserk.”The band hired her then and there.She recalls getting the names of jazz singers from a friend, tracking down their albums, learning the tunes a few at a time and then returning to the club to sing them.
Annie’s career had a fairytale beginning - not unlike Lana Turner wearing the right sweater into Schwab’s Drugstore in Hollywood.But there is nothing make-believe about her talent.Her obvious ease in front of an audience, the naturalness of her voice, her sense of timing and interpretation of lyrics, her feel for the music - these elements all came together during this time.While performing gigs at night, she studied her craft at the Nashville Jazz Workshop and was offered their first work/study opportunity.The Nashville jazz community and its fans spread the word about this young pixie-faced singer with the long dreads whose voice denied both her youth and looks - adding to her charm and appeal.
Today, Annie is a mainstay at the major jazz venues in Nashville, where she has performed with all of Music City’s jazz artists, including Beegie Adair, Jeff Coffin, Rod McGaha and Bela Fleck.She is the resident vocalist with the Nashville Jazz Orchestra, with whom she has recorded, and she gave a celebrated sold-out performance with the Nashville Symphony Pops Orchestra, “An Evening of Jazz.”She has won a large, devoted following in her home town that has garnered five consecutive “Best Jazz Artist” awards from the Nashville media and the #1 best selling local artist for two years at Tower Records Nashville.
She stepped up her music studies, taking guitar at the New School while living and performing in New York City for a time.She also coached with Rebecca Paris in Boston and Rhiannon in Hawaii.Soon, she was stretching her wings beyond the Nashville area traveling to Europe, Japan, Canada and throughout the United States establishing solid fan bases centered in Atlanta and Birmingham, the major cities along the east coast from Hilton Head to West Palm Beach, Cincinnati, Los Angeles and Montreal.Her club appearances in Montreal resulted in an invitation to perform at the 2006 and 2008 Montreal Jazz Festivals.She has also made regular appearances at West Coast Jazz Party, Newport Beach Jazz Party, Vail Jazz Festival and she opened for Curtis Stigers at the Gene Harris Jazz Festival.In 2006, she toured with Mark O'Connor's Hot Swing.She has made six Japan tours covering twenty cities both as a soloist and featured vocalist with John DiMartino, David Hazeltine, Grant Stewart and the late Eddie Higgins.
Annie has recorded four CD's on her own label Chalice Music, Inc. Her debut recording, “Stardust on My Sleeve” (2000 Chalice Music, Inc.) features a swinging piano trio - pianist Lori Mecham, bassist Roger Spencer and Chris Brown on drums - and Annie’s strong interpretations of standards such as Lullaby of the Leaves, Twisted, You Go to My Head, Gravy Waltz and How Insensitive.Fans on CDBaby.com write, “To hear Annie sing is to feel like you’re falling in love…She doesn’t just sing, she swings, tells stories, shares her heart and celebrates simultaneously.”Her second effort, “No Greater Thrill” (2002 Chalice Music, Inc.) features Hammond B-3 royalty Joey DeFrancesco.“I felt a connection to the jazz B-3 organ after playing around Nashville with Moe Denham.”Annie met DeFrancesco at NAMM in 2002 and a friendship began.DeFrancesco had produced Denham’s CD, and he agreed to return to Nashville to work with Annie and two sought after session players guitarist Pat Bergeson and drummer Jim White.
Her third CD, "A Little Piece of Heaven" (2004 Chalice Music, Inc.), is her first live recording captured at The Vic Jazz Club in Santa Monica, California.The rhythm section is an all-star line-up of L.A.’s top players - young lion Gerald Clayton on piano with Dan Lutz on bass and Kevin Kanner on drums.Guitarist Bruce Forman sits in on eight tunes.Sellick worked with stellar arranger/composer Shelly Berg who arranged a collection of lesser-known standards just for this project.Critic Roger Crane reviewed the performance for the L.A. Jazz Scene writing, “Annie Sellick is very much a jazz singer, who focuses on the music, but she is also a storyteller…After now seeing her perform twice, I see no reason why she should not be a star.”An “utterly unique musical personality,” wrote Don Heckman of the Los Angeles Times.
Los Angeles jazz fans love Annie Sellick, too.Her regular appearances there with Gerald Clayton’s trio has had a significant impact on her music and her career, leading to collaborations with many L.A. notables -Tamir Hendelman, Kristin Korb, Llew Matthews, Josh Nelson, Mark Winkler and Taylor Eigsti among them.“Drummer Jeff Hamilton happened to catch a video of one of my shows at Steamers in Fullerton, and he invited me to work with his trio.”
It seemed a studio recording capturing the energy and symbiosis with some of these Southern California’s players was due.Annie took into the studio two trios - “trio one” fronted by Gerald Clayton and “trio two” fronted by Jeff Hamilton.These collaborations became her fifth CD release entitled “Street of Dreams” (2009 Chalice Music, Inc.) featuring arrangements by Gerald, Jeff, Josh Nelson and Tamir Hendelman (Barbara Steisand’s arranger).Release is slated for January 2010, but samples of two cuts - “Cloudburst” and “Do It Again” - can be heard at this link http://www.anniesellick.com/music-and-video.phpon her website.
A highly praised fourth CD is a celebration of her Nashville roots; a musical incarnation of acoustic jazz and swing called "Annie and the Hot Club."She started sitting in with the Hot Club of Nashville whose guitar-driven swing is lead by master picker Richard Smith.Their live shows selling out and fan pressure at a fever pitch, she succumbed to the pressure producing “Annie Sellick presents ‘Annie and the Hot Club’ Perform the Music of Tom Sturdevant” (2007 Chalice Music, Inc.).The then sixty-four year old Sturdevant was virtually unknown as a songwriter and better known as a filmmaker and game designer.He had more than 200 tunes in his repertoire when, “I found a message on my machine from Annie Sellick saying she loved my songs and wanted to sing them.I felt like I had won the lottery!”One of the tracks,“Chickadee-n-Cockadoodledoo,” won 4th place in the Vocal Jazz Song category in the 2009 Just Plain Folks Music Awards, the world’s largest music competition.The song passed through 10,000 judges and past 500,000 other entries, and is getting play all over the world.In addition to their growing number of fans in the states, Annie and the Hot Club are popular guest artists at European guitar festivals, including regular appearances at the Tommy Emmanuel Guitar Festival in Germany.
Also in the works is a project with an outstanding ensemble of players - Akira Tana (drums), Gary Vercace (piano), John Benitez (bass), Jimmy Greene (saxophone), Rodney Jones (guitar) and Chuggy Carter (percussion).The CD is a compilation of James Bond movie theme songs entitled “Kiss, Kiss Bang, Bang - Annie Sellick and the Secret Agent Men” (Sons of Sound).It’s slated for release in Fall 2009 and available on iTunes andAmazon.com.
Annie can also be heard on these recording projects:“Live at B.B. King’s - Nashville Jazz Orchestra featuring Annie Sellick” (2005 Artist Development Group), “Low Standards” (2005 Sons of Sound) and “Backward Compatible” (Vibraphone Music 2008) both with Steve Shapiro and Pat Bergeson and “Street Expressionism” with Paradigm Shift (2007 Nagel-Heyer Records).
Annie’s busy 2009 touring schedule has kept her on the road most of the year.She returned to Germany this past spring with guitarists Pat Bergeson and Joe Robinson (winner of “Australia’s Got Talent 2008”) playing at the famous Fabrik in Hamburg, theMusikmesse in Frankfurt, plus stops in ten additional cities. Appearances also included multiple appearances in Asheville, Atlanta, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Louisville, Palm Beach, Scottsdale, and Los Angeles and environs.
During the summer of ’09, Annie stayed a bit closer to home with a number of dates in Nashville and a special project that is very close to her heart.She worked with teenage girls at a camp called Act Like A Grrrrl, serving as a co-leader.The girls spend time writing, sharing their stories, and then by incorporating words, movement, music and visual arts, they present a performance at the end of camp.“Each girl has so much to share with the world, and the goal is to give them the support, tools and confidence to get out there and be themselves.”For more information, visit www.actlikeagrrrl.com.
She is also developing workshops for singers.“Singers have a lot in common and we don’t always have the chance to come together.”In addition, Annie is writing songs for her first “all original” recording project, and performing as a duo with husband/guitarist Pat Bergeson.
There are many ways to get your Annie Sellick “fix” until you can catch her live.Her CDs are available atcdbaby.com, and you may watch and listen to her many music samples and performance videos at My Space andYou Tube.
- Robyn Carey Allgeyer