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Steve Clisby –May 2015
Steve Clisby’s life has been about breaking down barriers. Growing up as a young black man in a largely segregated 1950s America. Creating an unlikely life for himself bringing soul music to Europe. Holding on to a love of jazz to carve out a 50 year career in a world besotted with rock n roll. Taking the leap to audition for The Voice while holding true to his musicianship. Collaborating with Thundamentals, Hermitude and Chew Fu at the age of 68. Working on a new album with Bootsy Collins slated for 2016. Nobody told Steve Clisby he couldn’t. So he did.
A novice to fame, but not to music, Steve Clisby spent over sixty years as a musician, living an inspirational life in the US, Europe and finally in Australia following his muse and love of rhythm & blues and jazz before finding his breakthrough moment.
With a childhood in the 1950s, Clisby battled racist attitudes and hardship, gaining a strength of character which meshed with a work ethic and love of music inherited from his mother. Relentlessly spinning vinyl classics from female legends of jazz such as Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan and Carmen McCrae, she cemented Clisby’s early appreciation for unique and soulful vocal interpretations.
From jamming with Hendrix at the Experience Club on Sunset Boulevard to being broke and homeless in Torremolinos Spain, in the late sixties, the talented then-twenty one year old decided to make music his life’s work. In the early seventies, he and seventeen musicians followed the infamous Hendrix trail to Europe – and there they stayed, making Holland their base and beginning a two decade career as American Gypsy.
A record deal, a string of hits and numerous television appearances cemented the group as the African American soul voice in Europe, touring alongside Chaka Khan, Hot Chocolate, Kool and the Gang, Santana, Frank Zappa and Taj Mahal.
Since that time Clisby has toured numerous countries including Denmark, France, Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Russia, Ukraine, USA, UK and Australia. He has released a dozen albums and remained true to his musical dream.
In his long and distinguished career he has collaborated with award-winning producer/writer, Narada Michael Walden (Madonna, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey) and Errol Brown (Hot Chocolate) with Groove Armada re-recording the track Inside Out as Whatever Whenever and Neneh Cherry recording Steve’s track Golden Ring on her album Man.
After half a lifetime globetrotting, in 1999 Steve Clisby made Australia his home and in 2013, he became a citizen.
“I connect with this country on so many levels. Australia is young and growing and change is part of the culture, politically, environmentally and artistically and anyone can be a part of the process. It is the most beautiful place I have ever been.”
It was in his adopted homeland that TV juggernaut The Voice changed his life, captivating audiences as he reached the semi-finals, broadcast into more than two million living rooms, introducing the nation to the real Steve Clisby.
“It was a big risk for a jazz singer to take,” said Clisby. “My band razzed me out at the time for attempting it at my age and it took me a while to adjust and to realize just what impact it was going to have on my life. Big love and a genuine connection from that TV audience had a profound impact and made me able to confidently explore my musical curiosity. I loved it!”
Moving seamlessly from his jazz background to northern soul revival, Steve Clisby’s live performances showcase supreme musicianship and legendary cool. The ageless appeal of this accomplished artist has brought him a legion of loyal fans. Steve’s first tour following The Voice sold out 20 shows in record time.
His first album since his television experience “Leave Me Dreaming” was released to critical acclaim in 2014. Recorded and mixed at The Grove Studios with Scott Horscroft (The Presets, Empire Of The Sun, Birds of Tokyo) and Andy Mak (Bertie Blackman, Boy And Bear, Tina Arena), the album spawned the singles “Walking These Streets” as well as the title track. His reworkings of Paloma Faith’s “Only Love Can Hurt Like This” and Coldplay’s “Magic” connected with audiences across the globe, sporting a contemporary sound dripping with the life experience and joy that only an old soul with a young heart can lay down on a record.
Following ‘Leave Me Dreaming’, Clisby worked with renowned US based producer Chew Fu on three new tracks for the Simon Pegg movie “Kill Me Three Times”. Steve also collaborated on a track from Thundamentals latest album, showing yet another side of his talents. He was also selected for the high profile Commonwealth Bank “CAN” campaign which gave fans further insight into his life, airing for over twelve months and resulting in the release of the track “Three Little Letters”.
2015 began with the sad loss of Steve’s 103 year old mother, the loss not only of a friend and mentor, but of a source of inspiration which had been with him at every stage of his life. Her passing has inspired Steve to move on to a new chapter with another bold artistic step, with a new album project currently in progress with Chew Fu and funk legend Bootsy Collins, for which Steve heads to the US for sessions later this year. An exploration in genre, the sessions will continue Steve’s vision to create accessible and innovative funk and jazz inspired pop music to broaden the minds of adult music lovers.
His sold-out show in May at Sydney’s Basement will be followed up with two special shows on his return to Australia this August, the first opportunity for fans to hear tracks from the upcoming recording.
“LEAVE ME DREAMING” ALBUM (FEATURING THREE LITTLE LETTERS and WALKING THESE STREETS ) IS RELEASED THROUGH MGM DISTRIBUTION