Annie HaslamView In iTunes
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Best known for her long tenure as the vocalist for prog-rockers Renaissance, Annie Haslam was the product of a musical family -- her father was an amateur singer and comedian, and her brother Michael was a mid-60s rock'n'roller whose career was managed by Brian Epstein. Still, her earliest interest was fashion design; only while at university did Haslam begin singing, encouraged by friends after spontaneously performing a rendition of the Mary Hopkin hit "Those Were the Days" at a local pub. She soon began studying under opera singer Sybil Knight, and in late 1970 answered an advertisement in Melody Maker to become Renaissance's new vocalist. Haslam's crystalline, five-octave soprano remained the group's focal point throughout the remainder of their career; while still fronting the band she made her solo debut in 1977 with the Roy Wood-produced Annie in Wonderland, followed in 1985 by Still Life. Haslam's third solo effort, a self-titled album from 1989, was the first issued in the wake of Renaissance's dissolution as well as her last release for Epic; in its wake she relocated to the U.S., where in 1993 she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her struggles became the inspiration behind 1994's Blessing in Disguise; Live Under Brazilian Skies followed five years later and Dawn of Ananda was issued in mid-2000. ~ Jason Ankeny