Long recognised as Australia’s foremost jazz, blues and soul singer, Renee Geyer (born 1953) issued 15 studio albums over the course of a 40+ year career.
Best known for her rich, soulful, passionate and husky vocal delivery, Geyer was also much in demand as a session singer. She sang backing vocals on numerous album sessions ranging from The La De Das, Dragon and Men At Work to Richard Clapton.
Renee contributed backing vocals to Sting’s second solo album, Nothing Like The Sun. She was incorrectly listed in the credits as Rene Gayer.
Her earliest bands included Sydney-based blues outfits Dry Red, Silversun and Sun. In 1972, she sang with two short-lived bands, Free Spirit and Nine Stage Horizon, before joining a jazz-blues band called Mother Earth, who backed Renee on her self-titled debut album and the singles Space Captain and Oh! Boy. She split from Mother Earth at the end of that year.
Her second album, It’s A Man’s Man’s World, yielded the singles What Do I Do On Sunday Morning?, It’s Been A Long Time and a cover of James Brown‘s It’s A Man’s Man’s World. Geyer’s gorgeous rendering of this song became her first charting single when it reached #29 in Melbourne during December 1974.
By then, she had teamed up with jazz/funk band Sanctuary. When they came to record her Ready To Deal album, Sanctuary became known as The Renee Geyer Band.
Ready To Deal was a success and spawned three singles; (I Give You) Sweet Love, Heading In The Right Direction and If Loving You Is Wrong. During that period, The Renee Geyer Band supported overseas visitors like Eric Clapton.
The band recorded the live album Really . . . Really Love You with Renee in 1976 before she travelled to the USA to record Moving Along in Los Angeles with Motown producer Frank Wilson and a host of American session players, including members of Stevie Wonder‘s band.
Stares and Whispers and Tender Hooks were issued as singles. Renee’s final single for 1977 was the theme song to the Aussie television soapie The Restless Years.
Geyer spent the next decade dividing her time between Australia and the US. She recorded Winner in LA and Money (That’s What I Want) and Baby Be Mine were issued as singles.
The excellent Blues License album and the BB King song The Thrill Is Gone were released in July 1979.
In 1980, Renee signed with Mushroom Records. She recorded with rock band The Ideals, which resulted in the hard-edged Hot Minutes single in July 1980. Her biggest hits came with the salsa/reggae-styled Say I Love You single in July 1981 and the So Lucky album (November 1981).
The album produced two other singles, Do You Know What I Mean? and I Can Feel The Fire.
Geyer went on to release three further singles on Mushroom; Love So Sweet, Goin’ Back and Trouble In Paradise.
Her last albums for Mushroom were Renee Live and the ‘Best Of’ set called Faves.
In 1984 she recorded a duet with Jon English called Every Beat Of My Heart, and in 1985 her first album for WEA, Sing To Me, contained the singles Faithful Love, Every Day Of The Week and All My Love.
Live At The Basement was her last solo album for nine years, during which time she lived in LA and joined Californian band Easy Pieces, appearing on the A&M album Easy Pieces in 1988.
Geyer’s ninth studio album Difficult Woman was released on Larrikin Records in 1994. She moved back to Australia and reestablished herself on the local live circuit. In May 1998, Mushroom Records released The Best of Renee Geyer 1973-1998, which peaked at #50 in New Zealand and #53 in Australia.
In March 1999, Geyer released her tenth studio album Sweet Life. It peaked at #50 in the ARIA Charts. The following year she released her autobiography, Confessions of a Difficult Woman.
In August 2003 Geyer released her eleventh studio album Tenderland. The album peaked at #11 on the ARIA Charts, equalling her highest-charting album in her career. Live at the Athenaeum was released in April 2004 and Geyer’s twelfth studio album Tonight in April 2005.
On 14 July 2005, Geyer was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame and in July 2007, she was cast in the lead role in Sleeping Beauty. She released the compilation, Renéesance in May 2009.
In June 2009, Renee Geyer was diagnosed with breast cancer and following surgery, a full recovery was expected.
Her 15th studio album Swing (2013) was a big-band covers album. It peaked at #22 in Australia. The same year, she became the first woman to be inducted into the Music Victoria Hall of Fame. She has also received the inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award at the Australian Women in Music Awards in 2018.
Sadly, Renee Geyer passed away on 17 January 2023 due to complications resulting from hip surgery. Inoperable lung cancer was also discovered during her time in hospital. She was 69.