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Women’s jazz tribute night helps girls find refuge

Johnston Street Jazz, one of Sydney’s most respected jazz venues, hosted a magnificent celebration of International Women’s Day at its location in the Annandale Arts Centre on March 12.

A fundraiser for the Girls Refuge (Detour House), eight separate acts commanded the stage, performing an array of jazzified hit pop songs and originals composed by women.

A vibrant art exhibition concurrently graced the room with works by Naomi Downie, Hannah Faye and Kiki Tse.

The incredible line-up included Heather Prowse, Susan Gai Dowling, Christa Hughes, Tania Bowra, Maree Steinway, Leonie Cohen, Nicky Crayson, Jo Fabro and Chloe Kim.

Brooke Prentis (CEO of Common Grace) opened with Acknowledgement of Country. Heather Prowse – leader of 343 Brass band – then launched into a wonderfully playful rendition of Kimbra’s “Settle Down”.

The supremely bluesy duo Christa Hughes and Leonie Cohen thrilled the crowd with Fiona Apple’s “Criminal”. Their version of Billie Holiday’s “God Bless the Child” hit an extraordinary level of excitement with Ruby Boukabou’s tap-dancing cameo.

Maree Steinway, gifted jazz pianist/vocalist, charmed the audience with her trio.

Jazz icon Susan Gai Dowling played a gorgeous original from one of her six celebrated albums. Tania Bowra’s performance was stunning – herself a composer of top 100 pop chart busters.

Legendary Australian vocalist Nicky Crayson, and pianist Leonie Cohen, played a super soulful version of Dolly Parton’s hit, “9 to 5”. Jo Fabro, who Johnston Street Jazz has “dreamed of bringing to our space for years”, sublimely performed Aretha Franklin’s “Do Right Woman”.

Talented drummer Chloe Kim’s all-female ensemble Rain Patterns debuted with a mesmerising medley of Joni Mitchell and Judy Bailey. With standing ovation, the powerful evening concluded exquisitely with Carole King’s “Natural Woman”, featuring all of the singers.

Following the great success of the event, a generous donation was made to the Girl’s Refuge (Detour House).

Johnston Street Jazz’s remarkable organisers Ashley Asphodel, Naomi Downie, Katrina Drake, Kieran Hogan and Andrew Lorien will continue to stream live performances on their Facebook page, resuming live gigs later in the year.


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