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Jacqui Dankworth

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Biography of Jacqui Dankworth

Some spawn of creative loins spurn a life in the limelight, having perhaps said goodbye once too often as their parents went on tour, maybe seen the pressures of ‘show business’ destroy relationships or simply witnessed the blood sweat and tears it takes to succeed, and thought ‘that’s not for me’. Others go at it full pelt, never dreaming of doing anything else. One such child was Jacqui Dankworth.

Daughter of the legendary, and knighted, John Dankworth and Cleo Laine, young Jacqui was brought up either on the road or by a succession of Spanish nannies. To Jacqui the positives of the entertainment world attracted more than the negatives repelled. There was never any question that she wouldn’t follow her parents into show business . The only surprise was into which area she choose to go.

Jacqui Dankworth’s first forays onto the stage were as an actress, and a successful one at that. For many years Jacqui worked with the Royal Shakespeare Company, the National Theatre and John Dexter's Company playing a multitude of critically acclaimed roles. Soon the plays turned into musicals and before long Jacqui was playing leading parts in the West End. But the singing bug had hit, and Jacqui left the lights of the London stage to focus on her own recording career.

The first thing Jacqui did was tour with brother Alec Dankworth's quintet, visiting Hawaii, Hong Kong and Indonesia. Jacqui then appeared as everything but the soldier in a staged performance of Stravinsky's The Soldier's Tale at the Purcell Room, London and worked with award winning jazz composer/saxophonist Tim Garland on a song cycle - ‘Songs Of Love And Liberty’, alongside singers Norma Winstone and Christine Tobin. In early 1998 Jacqui was invited to be the guest vocalist on a major world tour with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.

Occasionally time allowed her to venture into the studio to record - her first work being a newly commissioned jazz reworking of A. E. Housman poetry, as a guest artist with the New Perspectives Ensemble. The album was voted Record of the Year in the Times!

By 1999 her reputation was spreading and Jacqueline was asked to perform new arrangements of Gershwin’s classics with the BBC Big Band at the Barbican and Symphony Hall, Birmingham. Next, a project was formed which she fronted until recently: Field of Blue. A simple acoustic band performing mostly original compositions with Harvey Brough. Together they toured extensively around the UK and Europe playing to packed houses. Field of Blue recorded two albums, an eponymous CD in 1999 and the second, Still was released in 2000 on Black Box records, both to wide acclaim.

Reviews were positive once again for the 2001 Black Box release with James Pearson, For All We Know, including, from the Sunday Times, ‘one of our finest singers regardless of category’. Jacqueline happily appeared as a featured singer on Gerard Presencer's Linn album, The Optimist, and she recorded a track for the Nick Drake tribute album released on Hannibal Records as well as performing at the Barbican, London as part of the Nick Drake Tribute concert.

As a side project, Jacqui formed the three-part harmony group The Passion, with singers Liane Carroll and Sara Colman. The truly unique group released an album last year called One Good Reason, featuring the fabulous piano work of Liane Carrol and intricate, soulful three part harmonies of contemporary and original repertoire that features the individual and combined talent of three of the top vocalists in the country.

Another project close to Jacqui’s heart is her children's show, ‘The Star That Couldn't Shine’ which recently premiered at the Stables in Wavendon and plans are afoot to turn the piece into an animated film.

As can be seen, the talents of Jacqui Dankworth are very much in demand. In 2002 she appeared with composer Tunde Jegede in a concert and educational project for Wingfield Arts and more recently Miss Dankworth sang the titles on the forthcoming film Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (starring Martine McCutcheon), the theme tune for two series of Coming Alive on BBC Radio 4 and guested on Gloria Hunniford's Open House on Channel 5 and Esther on BBC2.


It is evident that Jacqui Dankworth is enjoying a high degree of success with her current album ‘As The Sun Shines Down On Me’. From it, several tunes have made the Jazz FM play list, and she gets repeated play on BBC Radio 2, especially Michael Parkinson’s Sunday Supplement. Jacqui has also been heard on BBC Radio 3, hosting the show ‘Jazz Sirens’ with her Mother, Dame Cleo Laine, on which they play tracks by the great and the good of the world of female jazz vocalists.

Recently, Jacqui was featured on Courtney Pine’s new album ‘Devotion’ which was released on 6th October 2003 to great acclaim. Tied in with the release Jacqui performed alongside Courtney Pine at the Royal Festival Hall, as part of the London Jazz Festival.

Not one to take a moment’s rest, Jacqui has moved into the movie world. The new film ‘Shoreditch’, starring Joeley Richardson and Shane Ritchie is due for imminent national release and Jacqui opens the feature with the opening shot singing the classic Billie Holiday number ‘My Man’ and later sings ‘Body and Soul’ as a featured track.

Jacqui Dankworth has rarely been in such demand. Last year Jacqui toured with the world famous Brodsky Quartet, and so impressed with her vocal talents they asked Jacqui to record with them on their next release. Scheduled for May 2004, other guests on this album include Sting, Elvis Costello, Bjork and Sir Paul McCartney.


The second album by Jacqui for Candid Records, entitled ‘Detour Ahead’ is released May 2004. The album will be supported with national TV appearances, radio, print and UK tour.

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