Featured Gig: Jazz Sisters, A celebration of vocal Jazz

Written by | Concerts, News, Women in Jazz Media

On June 27th, Women in Jazz Media are holding a special event to raise money for vocalist Anita Wardell. Jazz Sisters: A celebration of vocal jazz

Anita was scheduled to perform at Karamel Club on this night. Unfortunately, she recently suffered from a stroke during the interval of a recent gig. Her band mates quickly drove her to the hospital saving her life. Now Anita is working tenaciously on her recovery, and is slowly getting better. She is having daily intensive physiotherapy sessions which are already bringing positive results. As she will not be able to perform nor to teach for some times, she needs financial help. All the proceeds raised with the event will be donated to support her recovery.

The event is an opportunity to celebrate jazz vocalists and women in the jazz with five outstanding vocalists from the British jazz scene, Vimala Rowe, Lily Dior, Esther Bennett, Diana Torti and Fiona Ross bringing their unique artistry to a range of jazz standards in an evening full of jazz tradition and elegant atmosphere, accompanied by one of the UK’s most loved pianists, Wendy Kirkland.

Anita Wardell by Karen Kent

Born in the UK, Anita moved to Australia with her family as a child and her formative years were spent soaking up the Rodgers and Hammerstein and Cole Porter classics. She also explored her father’s collection of big band albums by Duke Ellington, Count Basie and many more. During her teens, she explored modern Jazz when she discovered Clifford Brown, Cannonball Adderley, Miles Davis and Charlie Parker. At the same time she learned her vocal craft from greats like Ella Fitzgerald, Mark Murphy, Carmen McRae, Betty Carter, Jon Hendricks and Eddie Jefferson.

Esther Bennett tells us ‘I first met Anita in the mid to late 90s at a jam session where we hit it off immediately, not just as fellow jazz artists, but as friends. Since then, we have regularly crossed paths on gigs and in the various establishments of the London jazz scene and at social events and parties that are as a result of it. I adore her as a human being and, as a jazz artist.  This side of the pond, she is purely and simply The Queen of Scat. Let’s all help to get her well and back out there. Jazz needs you and we need you, Neets!’

Diana Torti from Women in Jazz Media has been leading on the organisation of the event and first saw Anita perform a few years ago. They met and immediately became friends. ‘Getting to know her, I discovered that in addition to being an extraordinary artist, she is also a sensitive, generous and authentic woman. I immediately found myself in great harmony with her and in recent times we have shared a sincere friendship, made of singing, dreams, reflections and hopes’.

Anita has released eight albums, and her last album Stars features re-worked jazz standards and originals, including a dedication to the late, great British jazz singer, Tina May. Inspired by Anita, the event will be a celebration of vocal jazz including performance of a wide range of jazz vocalists all accompanied by pianist Wendy Kirkland. ‘Blossom Dearie, Shirley Horn, Sarah Vaughan, Peggy Lee, Nat King Cole, Mel Torme…I have been inspired by so many great vocalists – but basically any singer who uses the voice as an instrument. Most of these singers did also play piano and it seems obvious to me they used their voice in an instrumental way as a result.’

The support for Anita has been astounding with a range of events being held to raise money and support Anita – and true example of how the community pulls together to support each other. Diana Torti shares her thoughts.

Suddenly, all our lives can change dramatically, and priorities can suddenly change too. Health comes first and to acquire new autonomy there are a series of sacrifices and steps that take away energy, time and resources at all levels. In this regard, the economic aspect also becomes fundamental. I am very happy that various events are being organized with the aim of raising funds to support Anita’s care during her recovery period. There are many aspects that go unnoticed until an event such as an illness occurs, and we do not always have the resources to address these aspects. This also sparked a reflection in me regarding the guarantees that the profession of musician, singer or artist in general does not always guarantee. Living on music and art does not always offer guarantees that allow an easy life in terms of available resources. Not all artists have their backs protected.

Diana Torti by Monika S Jakubowska

This is a historical moment in which funding cuts are multiplying in many important areas of society, and in these cuts there are categories such as those of artists that are sometimes forgotten. The world of performing is not only made up of big famous stars, but above all of artists who may have less visibility but are endowed with great sensitivity and professionalism. I find it embarrassing that it is still difficult to guarantee protections that offer a minimum of support to people who have courageously chosen to pursue their dreams and to build their profession and their lives on these dreams. On the other hand, it doesn’t surprise me that initiatives like this one promoted by Women in Jazz Media (whom I thank for organizing this event) in support of Anita are numerous and appreciated. This shows how the beauty of human relationships is far more powerful than any law and regulation. It is a bitter consolation and I hope that these movements can provide new food for thought to reopen a dialogue with those who should protect all professions and all categories of workers. Art and music are not activities necessary for physical survival, but they have a social and well-being role and artist should be protected.

I sincerely thank the extraordinary Jazz Sisters who will participate in this event. I am honoured to be able to make a small contribution together with them to support one of our lovely colleagues. Knowing that we are together in these battles makes me feel better and makes the community stronger and more cohesive. We love you Anita, and we are here for you!’

Women in Jazz Media Presents: Jazz Sisters: A celebration of vocal Jazz, June 27th, Karamel Club, London. Tickets here

Any help is much appreciated and if you are unable to attend the event you can support and make a donation through this link, on the GoFundMe page created by her close friends and family to support her:


As stated in the page: “We hope this crowd funding appeal will help Anita have some kind of stability in the coming months while she recuperates”.



Last modified: July 8, 2024