At only 23 years of age, Alana Conway is making a name for herself as one of our most refreshing crossover artists.
In 2010, the singer and musician first became a household name on the hit reality series, Australia’s Got Talent.
Four years ago Conway blew the judging panel of Dannii Minogue, Bryan McFadden, and Kylie Sandilands away with her uplifting rendition of the Righteous Brothers’ pop classic, Unchained Melody.
Conway transfixed television viewers nationwide with stunning vocals and a deep musical understanding beyond her years. She also gave the performance an added ethereal dimension, accompanying herself on the harp. Combined with her angelic looks and soaring voice, the instrument is indeed one of Conway's calling cards.
In 2013, Conway released her debut CD, Fields of Gold. Its twelve tracks covered a wide selection of popular music from At Last, When I Fall in Love, You Raise Me Up, Pie Jesu, Till There Was You, to It’s All Coming Back to Me Now.
Two further numbers were included in tribute to Eva Cassidy.
Living and performing in Maryland just outside Washington D.C, the supremely gifted vocalist and guitarist was known to interpret jazz, blues, folk, gospel, country, rock and pop with ease. In 1996 however, Cassidy tragically succumbed to cancer on the cusp of much bigger success. She was only thirty – three years of age.
Posthumously released, the recording artist’s long list of albums also had a profound effect on the young Australian talent growing up. So much, that Cassidy’s story and songs form the basis of Conway’s new concert tribute.
Entitled Songbird, Conway wrote and conceived a show that covers the American musician’s journey and artistic influences. It also forms part of the Melbourne Cabaret Festival’s exciting 2014 program.
Eighteen years since her passing, Cassidy's inspiring yet heartbreaking tale is now the stuff of legend.
A gifted painter as well as musician, as a teenager she longed to go to art school. Lacking the necessary funds, Cassidy offset costs as a studio singer. Her ability was immediately recognised by Chris Biondo, the man who was to become both her producer and partner.
Featuring some of the 20th century's most iconic songs, Conway's gentle and conversational narrative was peppered with a set list highlighting key points in Cassidy’s career.
They ranged from Dolly Parton’s ‘Coat of Many Colours’, Cyndi Lauper’s ‘Time after Time’, Irving Berlin’s ‘Cheek to Cheek’, John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’, Ed Sheeran’s ‘Autumn Leaves’, Harold Arlen’s ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’, and ‘Hallelujah’ by Ray Charles. Several pieces were sensitively backed by Harry Bennetts on violin and Phil Turcio on piano.
Conway went on to detail how Cassidy, severely weakened by her illness, sang Louis Armstrong’s ‘What a Wonderful World’ at her last public appearance. Closing out the 60 – minute show, its inclusion was a powerful moment.
Songbird was not only a moving celebration of an American icon, it solidified Conway's place as a magical and versatile performer in her own right.
Somewhere out there, Eva Cassidy would be beaming with pride.