Australia's first lady of jazz Janet Seidel passes away

ALL CLASS: Janet Seidel was a popular performer in Australia and internationally and passed away this month aged 62. Janet released 18 albums to critical acclaim.

ALL CLASS: Janet Seidel was a popular performer in Australia and internationally and passed away this month aged 62. Janet released 18 albums to critical acclaim.

Known as ‘Australia’s first lady of jazz singing’, the Sydney-based cabaret singer and accomplished pianist Janet Seidel passed away on August 7, following complications related to ovarian cancer.

Janet was 62 and the daughter of Brenda and Ken Seidel. Brenda Seidel was the popular drama teacher at Victor Harbor High School for many years, while Ken ran the dairy farm at Mount Compass.

Raised on the family dairy farm at Mount Compass with her four brothers, Janet commenced playing piano at an early age. 

She attended Mount Compass Area School during her primary school years and then Victor Harbor High School. Janet played leading roles in several high school musical productions.

After graduating from the University of Adelaide as Bachelor of Music, she was a high school music teacher, as well as a regular performer in many Adelaide venues. Active from the 1980s with a prolific recording and touring career, Janet was also a music educator and influential figurehead of the Australian jazz scene.

As well as collaborating frequently with her brother, leading Australian bassist David Seidel, she also played with other notable figures from the Australian jazz scene, such as guitarist Ian Date and pianist Bobby Gebert.

Janet Seidel’s first album, Little Jazz Bird, was released in 1993, the first of 18 to be released, generally to critical acclaim. They covered a wide range of styles, from easy listening, to lounge, cabaret and jazz.

In the early 1980s, she formed her first trio with her brother on bass and the legendary Billy Ross on drums. Next, she moved to Sydney where her career took off in the cabaret scene as well as in jazz. 

Janet’s influences were vocalists Doris Day, Peggy Lee, and Blossom Dearie, releasing Doris & Me in 2001, Don’t Smoke in Bed in 2002, and Dear Blossom in 2004 to high critical acclaim. The Janet Seidel Trio now included Janet, brother David and guitarist, Chuck Morgan. 

In addition to appearing in cabaret venues and festivals around Australia, The Janet Seidel Trio undertook regular international tours, headlining, and drawing rave reviews  in London’s famed Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club and in venues in the US, Europe, the Middle East, south-east Asia and particularly in Japan.

Janet and her trio had also built a large and loyal audience in Canberra over the years through their regular performances at the Canberra Southern Cross Club, The School of Arts Café, The National Press Club, The Street Theatre and the National Gallery of Australia.

Always remembering her roots she performed at Alexandrina Cheese at Mt Jagged on three occasions. 

She received a sudden diagnosis in October 2016. 

Janet died with close family by her side. She is survived by her partner of 16 years, Chuck Morgan and her brothers David, Geoffrey, Robert and Mark.

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