Babs van Bree (27) is one of the young talented singers on the Dutch jazz scene. After high school she first studied music therapy, then she obtained her Bachelor of Music. Now she is studying to be Master of Music in the German city of Cologne.
The singer has a clear vision of jazz. “For me, jazz is not just a music style. It’s a lifestyle, a style in which you think, in which you meet people and get involved in different cultures. In that rhythm of life, you improvise.’
“My voice is my instrument. In my music, I am looking for depth and authenticity. I like intense sounds and pure words. Improvisation plays an important role in this. That gives me the freedom to bring out something deep down inside in the most intuitive way. I think it’s important that music touches you and whether that’s jazz music or not it does not matter to me”.
As a child, Babs van Bree came into contact with music at home. Her mother sang in a choir and her father played in a concert-and. In school, a lot of attention was paid to singing and developing your creativity, “when I was 11 years old, I started taking ‘classical’ singing lessons. My teacher was Doris van de Meerendonk. That’s where I learned the basics of singing. Later I had singing lessons from Gé Titulaer. With him, I explored the world of “popular music.’’ I also started learning to play the piano at that time”.
“Nowadays, I sing in a vocal group, called Wander with Robbert Suilen and Renée Steenvoorden. I also perform under my own name, then I mainly sing my own music”. As a singer, Babs van Bree is inspired by a lot of people. “I don’t have one specific person I ‘ve learned the most from in music. A whole lot of people are my source of inspiration. In the end, you are the one who makes the choice what to bring on stage and throwback into the world”.
Certain people inspire me, but the person who inspires me the most is Abbey Lincoln. I love her grieving voice, her powerful appearance and the way she moves. She wrote special pieces, such as ‘Throw it away’. A beautiful composition, which I like to sing myself. The phrase ‘Cause you can never lose a thing if it belongs to you’ is an important life lesson she gave me through her music”. The Dutch vocalist also loves the music of Joni Mitchell.
Babs van Bree keeps her ears open to all music, from classical to pop. “I listen to everything and don’t like to put a label on something. It’s got to hit me, that’s the most important thing. I don’t have a favourite song to sing either. However, I have some songs I’ve been singing for years. Interestingly, to experience how these songs have evolved over the years. They gain more and more depth and the words and melodies are repeated as a kind of mantra”.
I asked about an artistic challenge for the near future, she says: “I would like to do a project with a dancer on stage. My music career is a journey of discovery. I want to keep developing myself, amaze, deepen and broaden, experiment, meet and especially have fun. Not only in the musical field, but also as a human being”.
Artists website: Babs van Bree
Text: Peter Beije
Photo credits: Django Roberts, Frank Hirschhausen & Nicole Bolton.
Last modified: April 25, 2020