Norma Ann Winstone MBE (born 23 september 1941, in Bow East London) is a British jazz singer and lyricist. In a career spanning over forty years she is best known for her Wordless improvisations.
Norma Winstone was born in London and first attracted attention in the late sixties when she shared the bill at Ronnie Scott's club with Roland Kirk. Although she began her career singing jazz standards, she became involved in the avant garde movement, exploring the use of the voice in an experimental way and evolving her own wordless approach to improvisation.
She joined groups led by Mike Westbrook, Michael Garrick and sang with John Surman, Kenny Wheeler, Michael Gibbs and John Taylor, and worked extensively with many of the major European names and visiting Americans. In 1971 she was voted top singer in the Melody Maker Jazz Poll and subsequently recorded her own album Edge of Time for Decca, which although long deleted has now been re-released as a CD on the Disconforme label.
With Taylor and trumpeter Kenny Wheeler she has performed and recorded three albums for ECM as a member of the trio Azimuth between 1977 and 1980. In addition she made an album with the American pianist Jimmy Rowles (Well Kept Secret, 1993).
In recent years she has become known as a very fine lyricist, writing words to compositions by Ralph Towner, and Brazilian composers Egberto Gismonti and Ivan Lins (who has recorded her English lyrics to his song ‘Vieste‘). She has a special affinity with the music of Steve Swallow, and has written lyrics to many of his compositions, most notably ‘Ladies in Mercedes‘, which has become a standard.
Here’s “A Wish” from above 2003 album.
Norma Winstone was awarded the MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours of 2007 for her services to Music. In 2009 she was awarded the Skoda Jazz Ahead Award in Bremen for her contribution to European Jazz.
Her current group is a trio featuring Italian pianist Glauco Venier and German saxophonist/ bass clarinetist Klaus Gesing. Norma also works with the Nikki Iles’ group “The Printmakers” comprising some of the UK’s finest musicians. They released a long-awaited album “Westerly” this year and perform mainly in the UK.
More accolades came In 2015: Parliamentary Jazz Award for Best Vocalist and also the Gold Badge of Merit from British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors.
(Info various and normawinstone.com)
Here’s Norma Winstone singing Sea Lady (written by Kenny Wheeler) Bruno Angelini, piano and Michel Benita, bass.