Hailed by Gilles Peterson as one of the most influential singer/songwriters of her generation, Carleen Anderson is highly respected within the music industry. She’s globally known for her collaboration with the 1991 Mercury Music Award Shortlisted Young Disciples for their album, Road to Freedom and her 1994 Brit Award nominated solo album TRUE SPIRIT. Throughout her independent solo career, she’s been featured alongside a multitude of established artists from a wide array of musical genres – Nigel Kennedy, Dr. John, OMAR, Chrissie Hynde, Jocelyn Brown, Meshell Ndgeocello, Paul McCartney, Brand New Heavies, Incognito, Paul Weller, Ramsay Lewis, and a further long list of luminous ones. She won Jazz FM’s 2013 Best UK Vocalist Award. In 2014, Arts Council England awarded her a Research and Development grant for her Cage Street Memorial Theatre Production which was followed by a PRS Women Make Music grant in 2015 to record an accompanying soundtrack album for it. She won the Gilles Peterson’s Worldwide FM Lifetime Achievement Award in 2017. Her CAGE STREET MEMORIAL Tribal Opera concert at the Barbican in January 2018 received high praise in the press reviews. The London Evening Standard called it ‘a deftly crafted masterwork’.
“SHE’S NOT JUST GOOD, SHE’S PHENOMENAL. CARLEEN ANDERSON IS ONE OF A KIND”. – JAMES BROWN
Carleen Anderson was born in Houston, Texas, 10th of May 1957, and reared up on the sounds rooted in Gospel music inherited from the Pentecostal church where the pastor, David Anderson, Sr. her paternal Grandfather, and her Grandmother Alberta, raised her from an infant.
Since 1973, her birth Father, Dr. Reuben P. Anderson, Sr., continues as the pastor of his own church in Compton, California, further extending the connection Carleen still retains in gospel music.
Her association with Soul music was inherited from her birth mother, Vicki Anderson, (aka Myra Barnes), who James Brown, the Godfather of Soul, often claimed as his
favourite vocalist. Carleen toured with her stepfather, Bobby Byrd, the founder of James Brown and the Famous Flames, who also had a celebrated solo career in his own right.
In 1976, Carleen was recorded in her first music studio session with rock and roll blues man, Johnny Winter, (Edgar Winter’s brother), in Nashville, Tennessee.
In 1978, she joined a band called, ‘Funktions’, also in Nashville, and married the drummer, Bobbye Sherrell, (the younger brother of James Brown’s musician, ‘Sweet’ Charles Sherrell). From that union, her son, Bobby LeColye was born in 1979.
As a divorced single mother, Carleen was awarded scholarships and received high academic and performance honours from 1981 to 1985. She studied music performance and music education at the Los Angeles Community College, (LACC), University of Southern California, (USC), and classical literature at the University of California at Los Angeles, (UCLA).Sporadically, from 1974 to 1992, during the Bobby Byrd and the JB All Stars tour of the US southern states as well as across Europe and the UK, Carleen was the opening act and understudy for former featured vocalists for the James Brown Show & Revue – Vicki Anderson, Marva Whitney and Lynn Collins.
Carleen and her Son, Bobby, relocated to the UK in June 1990, where she was recruited as the vocalist and songwriter for the band, The Young Disciples, who were signed to Phonogram Records’ Circa label, on which they released a critically acclaimed album entitled, ‘Road to Freedom’, that included a popular hit song called, ‘Apparently Nothing’. The band was shortlisted for the Mercury Music Prize in 1992.
Also in 1992, Carleen signed a solo deal with Virgin Records, the new owner of the Circa Records label, who released two albums for her, True Spirit, which was nominated for a Brit Award for Best International Newcomer in 1995 and charted several hit singles, ‘Mama Said’, Let it Last and Nervous Breakdown. The second solo album, Blessed Burden, was co-produced in 1998 with Paul Weller, which included her celebrated cover single of Paul McCartney’s ‘Maybe I’m Amazed’ and her own composition, ‘Woman in Me’.
From early 1999 to late 2000, Carleen toured with the Brand New Heavies as their lead singer to promote their ‘Best of’ album, entitled, “Trunk Funk”.
Her first independent album, ‘Alberta’s GrandDaughter’, released in 2002, was produced by Ben Castle, (son of UK’s much loved trumpeter, Roy Castle), Mark Edwards and Colin Walker. Her cover of Noel Gallagher’s ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’, from this album, continues to be the most requested song of her repertoire.
The year 2003 saw the release of a live performance DVD/CD, ‘Grace & Favours’, which includes an impromptu performance with her Godfather, James Brown, the only footage of them together. EMI released a Best of Carleen Anderson CD in 2004, called ‘Up to Now. Dome Records signed Carleen for the release of her Soul Providence album in 2005, which was again produced by Mark Edwards, Ben Castle and Colin Walker. This album also has duet performances with Paul Weller and Jocelyn Brown.
In 2006, a guest appearance with Sir John Dankworth and his band at his English countryside venue, The Stables, had Carleen receiving high praise from Dame Cleo Laine, resulting in Carleen securing several residencies a year for a decade since then, at the world-famous jazz club, Ronnie Scott’s, to packed houses of enthralled audiences.
Carleen was the Head of the Vocal Department at the Brighton Institute of Modern Music where she taught vocal performance from 2002 to 2007. This association led to her performing for and meeting HRH, the Queen of England, in 2007. In 2013 Anderson sang the lead role of Isolde in Julian Joseph’s music compositional reimagining of the legendary Arthurian story of Tristan, performed at the Royal Opera House.
Alongside promoting her soundtrack album CAGE STREET MEMORIAL ~ The Pilgrimage, Anderson is being internationally commissioned to compose and arrange music for several Human Rights projects.
With Young Disciples
● Road to Freedom (Talkin’ Loud, 1991)
● True Spirit (Circa/Virgin, 1994)
● True Spirit Remixes (Circa/Virgin, 1995)
● Blessed Burden (Circa/Virgin, 1998)
● Alberta’s Granddaughter (Dusky Sappho Music, 2002)
● Grace and Favours (LIVE performance DVD/CD, Orange Room Music, 2004)
● Up To Now: The Best Of Carleen Anderson (Virgin, 2004)
● Soul Providence (Dome, 2005)
● “Nervous Breakdown” (1994)
● “Mama Said” (1994)
● “True Spirit” (1994)
● “Let It Last” (1995)
● “Maybe I’m Amazed” (1998)
● “Woman in Me” (1998)
● “Don’t Look Back in Anger” (2002)
Under the Alias – Mardou Fox
● Subterraneans feat. Mardou Fox “Taurus Woman” (1993)
● Numbers “Ballad of Mardou Fox”, “Traffic”, “Mardous Lament”, “Jack Summerset” (2001)
● Duet with Omar “Who Chooses the Seasons” (1992)
● Guru’s Jazzmatazz Volume 1 ” Sights in the City” (1993)
● Incognito ” Trouble don’t always last” (1994) (with Ramsey Lewis)
● Duet with Lewis Taylor “18 With a Bullet” (1998)
● Red, Hot + Cool Documentary (1998)
● The Brand New Heavies ” Saturday Nite”, “Apparently Nothing”, “Try My Love”, “Swinging Big Tom” (1999)
● The London Community Gospel Choir ” Whenever You Call” (2001)
● Agent K. “RideAway, Getaway” (2002)
● Andy Hamill “Falling” (2003) (with Tony Woods)
● Full Flava’s album Colour of My Soul Carleen performs lead vocals on “Stories” and “You Are (My Destiny)” (2003)
● The London Community Gospel Choir “ I Surrender All” LIVE at Abbey Road DVD Kingsway Records (2003)
● Courtney Pine “When The World Turns Blue” (2003)
● Mamayo “The Game” “Born to Love” (2005)
● Hope Collective “Give and Let Live” (2005)
● Duet with Paul Weller “Wanna Be Where You Are” Carleen Anderson Soul Providence CD Dome Records (2005)
● Duet with Jocelyn Brown “Parting the Waters” Carleen Anderson Soul Providence CD Dome Records (2005)
● Incognito “Show Me Love” (2005)
● Incognito “Summer in the City”, “Tin Man”, “That’s the Way of the World” (2006) ● Shuya Okino features Carleen on their co-write of “Beautiful Sadness” (2006)
● Full Flava album Music is Our Way of Life, Carleen performs lead vocals on a cover of Jean Carne’s, Was That All It Was . (2007)
● “Bird in Flight” Tuff Scout Records (written by Gil Cang and Carleen Anderson) 2014
● “Grains of Dust” Welsh National Opera Songs of Occupation Protest ( 2014)
WATCH AND LISTEN selected music videos