Alison Burns is a Scottish-Canadian jazz singer. She began her recording career as a member of a Scottish three-part female harmony group called The Penny Dainties and more recently, as well as solo recordings, she has recorded as Alison Burns & Martin Taylor.
For Burns, a lifelong love of music started at home, with an early education in the Great American Songbook from a father who played guitar and a mother who would carry the guitar case into his gigs. As a young girl in Dundee, an industrial city on the east coast of Scotland, the dreams were of singing and acting in Hollywood and the soundtrack was Peggy Lee, Lena Horne, and Bessie Smith among many others. The road to a recording career has been an inspiring one. From being the first female apprentice engineer in the famous Timex watch factory at the age of 16 (complete with curls and a full face of make up!) to being sacked from a bingo calling job, to the tragic circumstances which encouraged her to make a leap of faith into performing from a secure but unsatisfying job. The death of her brother Alan, who was serving in the Falklands brought home the reality of a life lived unfulfilled. While acting, singing and presenting, her band The Rainmates were offered two record deals but the time didn't feel right. Her heart took her back to the songs of the 1940s and the close harmony groups such as The Dinning Sisters. This led to the formation of a three-part female harmony group, The Penny Dainties. Not only did the Penny Dainties record an album, but it lead to Alison meeting her now husband who substituted one night when the regular drummer was unavailable. During this time Alison was twiddling her thumbs during the day so decided to do what anyone would – to study for a law degree! A short time practising was enough to send Alison back to music full-time, however. After working behind the scenes for a while, it was finally time to get behind the microphone and sing the songs that had been the soundtrack to her life.
Her debut album, Kissing Bug, released in March 2007 was received with universal acclaim and became the first album by a Scottish jazz singer to reach the Jazz Top 10. So far she has packed her bag to perform in far-flung destinations such as Tokyo, Nashville, New York, Cannes, Italy and Shanghai as well as being invited to play by Michael Parkinson, who welcomed her off stage with a huge hug and the comment “wonderful, wonderful!”.
She has played jazz festival and venues across the country, with her own group and guesting with Martin Taylor at a number of concerts. It was at these concerts that the idea for the new album 1:AM came about. The recordings of Ella Fitzgerald and Joe Pass were the inspiration, stripping back the songs to just vocal and guitar. Despite the smoky dark eyes and robust sense of humour, there's little of the jazz diva about Alison Burns. For those who may think that Alison is where she has always wanted to be, that's true up to a point, but looking at her track record, this is obviously just the beginning.
Here is what the press are saying:
"Burns's voice strikes the right balance between sensitivity and power" - HMV Choice
"Impressive….superb throughout" - Crescendo Magazine
"Outstanding" - The Courier
"Very good indeed" - Michael Parkinson
"Excellent" - Scotland on Sunday
"a triumphant debut…a voice full of confidence and authority" - China Sunday Morning Post
"Fantastic..superb…outstanding." - ABC Australia
"a collection of classic jazz torch songs set to race up the charts" - Daily Express
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