By Patty Purcell
I am constantly amazed at the talented musicians we have in the desert. I had the pleasure of meeting and listening to Grammy nominated singer and composer Chris Bennett last weekend at a party held at her home along with Maestro Dino of the Palm Springs Symphony.
I walked in the door to see Chris at the piano entertaining the guests. Her style is reminiscent of Diana Krall or Shirley Horn. She was sitting at the grand piano in her acoustically perfect living room, (the beautiful home and grand piano was owned by Loretta Young). The home opened out to the pool area with relaxing seating areas under the trees. A statue of Quan Yin overlooked the pool. Chris has also been a yoga teacher for 30 years and has done videos and is working on a yoga TV show.
I interviewed Chris and discovered that she grew up an only child of older parents. Her father was a natural musician so the piano and banjo were always present. From the first time she saw Dinah Shore introduce Barbara Streisand with a full band on her show, Chris knew that she wanted to be a professional entertainer. She took music, dance and baton and knew she had to move to either New York or LA from her small town in Illinois if she was going to make it.
She landed a scholarship at UCLA where she attended for 2 years. She auditioned constantly and landed a gig as a background singer for Jim Nabors. The show was in Vegas during the 70’s the height of the ‘Rat Pack’ phenom. Wayne Newton’s manager asked her to put together a show for Bangkok and Tokyo and off she went!
This was at the height of disco and she was the lead singer in a disco show produced by Giorgio Moroder called Munich Machine. She would record a CD for him in one day and learn the songs at night while playing jazz clubs in Germany. He also had her write lyrics for his songs and they co-wrote the Grammy Nominated title song for ‘Midnight Express’. She was also a back-up singer for Donna Summers. By the 1980’s Chris was a successful singer, songwriter and producer. Her songs were recorded by notables including Tina Turner and The Manhattan Transfer.
Along with being a touring recording artist with 12 CDs under her belt, she still tours the world with her favorite sax player from Tahiti, Armando Castagnoli. She is about to embark on a concert tour to Germany, Tahiti that will end in New York City in July.
While some artists slow down Chris is picking up the pace. She is getting ready to record a new CD with a big band. She’d also like to go back to her disco music and record another CD as she has fans all over the world.
She’s also produced CDs for artists including Keb Mo’ who won 3 Grammys for jazz and blues.
She would like to do her own shows here in the desert and is thinking about holding soirees at their home in Palm Springs with the intimacy and rich musical heritage it provides. She is also looking to do a small show in a room in the desert with a grand piano. Private parties are already in the works and Chris can perform with a small or ultimately a big band. She’s performed with the symphony and brings that show stopping quality that the desert longs for.
On her ‘wish list’ would be opening up for some of the greats including Jack Jones who she’s become friends with or doing a cabaret show.
This talented lady is full of energy and brimming with passion about her musical career. It’s always a pleasure to see an artist that is so committed to ‘the music’.
For more information on Chris Bennett visit her website at chrisbennett.com
Patte Purcell -Muze Muzic