Bluesy, torch-singing chanteuse Becc Sanderson has come a long way since her first show, when a friend mouthed words to songs she had forgotten the lyrics to.
“The very first gig was terrifying,” she laughs. “The first time I sang into a microphone ever was at our first rehearsal only a few months before.
“I had learnt all the phrasing, lyrics and little intonations by rope. I can’t remember where the first gig was—it was at some dive off the beaten track so it didn’t matter if I crashed and burned.
“I remember I forgot half the words and my friend Louise was in the audience mouthing them to me and holding up notes.”
From the late ‘80s to early ‘90s Sanderson headed the critically acclaimed jazz outfit Sweet Blue Midnights. Her sizzling stage presence and sensual interpretation of classics from Billie Holiday, Dinah Washington, Judy Garland and Carmen McCrae saw the band play to packed audiences in Perth and around Australia.
Sanderson says the band arrived on the scene at just the right time.
“We came in right at the end of the live scene in Perth,” she says. “We were one of the last bands to fill out a place and make a living out of it.
“We were playing four times a week and it was packed every time we played.”
By the end of 1999 the Sweet Blues had run out of steam so Sanderson packed up the family and headed to Edinburgh.
It didn’t take long for her to become a regular on the music scene in Scotland’s culture capital, with lounge band The Counsellors.
The seven-piece performed at the opening night party of the Edinburgh International Film Festival, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2008 and the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival.
But Sanderson became bored singing jazz standards night after night so she created her cabaret and theatre show, Passion Flower.
Described as a “deliciously intimate, scentual and sensual, a musical and floral feast for the senses” the show also features hubby Chris Grieve on trombone and Graeme Stephen on guitar.
“Passion Flower is a for me the culmination of the last 20 years,” Sanderson says.
“It’s still music but it’s really performance-based as well. So with every song I perform there is a character and a journey.
“There is the character of this women. She doesn’t have a name but every song brings something else into her life.”
Sanderson performs the show—inspired by a song by American jazz composer and pianist Billy Strayhorn—at the Fly By Night Club for one night only on September 22.
“Everything he did was so outside the envelope and his songs were so intricate and extraordinary both lyrically and melodically,” she says.
“Everything he did was so inventive.
“The song was the inspiration for the whole show, because you think it’s about love but when you get into it you realise it’s about obsession.”
by BRENDAN FOSTER