The astounding singer of Renaissance, Annie Haslam, was born today, on the 8th of June 1947.
If you asked any prog fan who has the best female vocals in progressive rock, the chances are Haslam’s name is going to be one of the first you hear. But before joining the prog rock band Renaissance, she was actually studying fashion in Cornwall, far away from her birthplace Lancashire.
She worked for a Savile Row tailor in London, and began taking voice coach instructions from opera singer Sybil Knight in 1970. In February 1971, after answering an advertisement in the Melody Maker, she became the new lead singer of Renaissance through her audition, which surprisingly was as a backup singer initially. Author Charles Snider stated of the occasion, “Annie Haslam’s voice, soaring high along with the melody, is the big news. Far more West End than Carnaby Street, it would come to define the band”.
Indeed, her voice was one of the key elements that distinguished Renaissance from other emerging prog bands at the time. There were other high pitched vocals in the industry, but with her leaning towards opera and not to mention the bewildering five-octave vocal range, Annie Haslam reserved a special place in our hearts and in the prog rock genre.