Linda Lewis, once described as the ‘Cockney-Jamaican Gracie Fields’, is one of Britain’s most respected and talented singer songwriters, with a career spanning more than four decades. With her five-octave vocal range, she has fused folk, soul, pop and reggae into a unique signature sound that is now an integral part of the pop music landscape.
Linda Fredericks, a cockney-Caribbean mixed race girl born in West Ham in 1950, was only three years of age when she started attending a local stage school. Over the next few years, Linda was regularly cast in non-speaking TV and film roles, including; ‘A Taste of Honey’ and The Beatles’ first film, ‘A Hard Day’s Night’. Her life changing moment came when she went to see American blues musician John Lee Hooker play in Southend, and managed to climb up onto the stage and ‘jam with the band’. After the performance, Hooker approached Lewis and introduced her to Ian Samwell, the producer of the Small Faces, which resulted in a contract for a one-off single release with Polydore records, and recorded ‘You Turned my Bitter into Sweet’ –a highly coveted collector’s item.
Throughout her career, Lewis produced ten studio albums, her first album being ‘Say No More’ released in 1971, and in that same year, she performed at the very first Glastonbury festival – an accolade many musicians would dream of. ‘Say No More’ was followed by the widely acclaimed ‘Lark’ and ‘Fathoms Deep’, both co-produced with Jim Cregan, and promoted by an American tour with Cat Stevens, whose album, ‘Tea for Tillerman’, she had lent her vocal talents to. These albums not only helped consolidated her status as one of Britain’s most promising young female singer/songwriters, but also proved her immense skill as a recording artist.
Lewis’ vocal talents were in regular demand by other artists, and she appeared on David Bowie’s ‘Aladdin Sane’, Cat Stevens’s ‘Catch Bull at Four’ and on recordings by Rod Stewart, Al Kooper, Chris Spedding, Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel, Roger Waters, Midfield General, Noel Gallagher and Paul Weller.
Lewis’ first top 20 chart success was the ‘Rock-a-Doddle-Doo’ in 1973, and with the release of her fourth album, ‘Not a Little Girl Anymore’ (1975), Lewis entered into mainstream music in a big way, appearing several times on Britain’s premier pop music TV show, ‘Top of the Pops.’ There were two further critically-acclaimed albums, ‘Woman Overboard’ (1977) which Record Mirror described as ‘an album of wonderful and varied delights’ and ‘Hacienda View ‘(1979) as ‘her best album to date’.
Linda continues to write and record, and has made live appearances at the 2003 Glastonbury Festival, Montreux Jazz Festival and London hot spots, Ronnie Scott’s Club and The Jazz Café. Recent music projects include collaborations with Joss Stone, Kanye West, Common and Basement Jaxx. As Linda writes her memoirs, the world looks forward to learning much more about her life, talents, and her significant contributions to the music community.