Malcolm McNeill

Born in Christchurch in 1945, jazz vocalist Malcolm McNeill grew up in a musical family and was exposed to jazz via the radio in the post-war years. At 15 he was already singing in coffee bars and restaurants around Christchurch, performing for dancers at the Latimer Dance Hall and diners at the Malando Restaurant.

His musical interests are wide, but he is most at home with the great American songwriters such as Hoagy Carmichael, George Gershwin, Duke Ellington, Cole Porter, Harold Arlen and Rodgers and Hart, whose works he has performed all over the world. He lists his influences as Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Mel Torme, Charlie 'Bird' Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and Oscar Peterson.

In 1970 he travelled to England where he stayed for six years, before returning to New Zealand. While he was there he formed a lasting friendship and association with John Dankworth and Cleo Laine, who helped him get established in London. He has toured with them, as well as on the festival circuit and performed with a variety of symphony orchestras and in venues such as Ronnie Scott’s and the New York Town Hall. He also recorded a popular duet album with Kiri Te Kanawa which made the  US Billboard charts. His song Melissa reached the top of both the Australian and Japanese charts. However, he has always opted to live and work in Christchurch.

In 1990 he received the Commemoration Medal for Services to Music and Trust Bank Excellence Award.

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