Claudia Lennear, who made music giants sound taller, returning to Tulsa for Leon Russell birthday bash | Music


Claudia Lennear is a rock star.

Oh, she may perhaps counsel she’s not worthy of the label, but vocal capacity plus resume in addition legacy (know any person else who impressed the Rolling Stones and David Bowie to produce tunes about them?) equals rock star.

Lennear will be part of other songs artists for a Sunday, April 3 live performance at Will Rogers Superior School. The show will cap a weekend of Leon Russell 80th birthday actions.

Russell, a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer who attended Will Rogers, died in 2016. His mates and admirers did not want to enable what would have been a milestone birthday go without a jam session.

Lennear created her bones as a backup singer who aided marketplace giants audio taller on phases or in recording studios. Between artists detailed on her formal website: Ike and Tina Turner. Allen Toussaint. The Rolling Stones. Joe Cocker. Russell. George Harrison. Elton John. Stephen Stills. Taj Mahal. Explained a bio on the web page: “She labored with quite a few of the producers and sidemen musicians who made the basis of the late ‘60s and ‘70s pop music scene both in the United States and England.”

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Lennear was among vocalists showcased in the 2013 documentary “20 Toes from Stardom.“ The Academy Award-profitable film spotlighted backup singers who ended up practically 20 ft from stardom. The film did two items for Lennear: It offered deserved acknowledgement and it obtained her back again into music, although she carries on to fortunately instruct French, Spanish and English composition at Mount San Antonio University in Walnut, California.

“The dean of my department is so gracious by permitting me go off, for example, to appear to Tulsa,” Lennear said during a telephone job interview this 7 days. “And they get upset with me if I say, ‘well, probably I should not do it.’ They say ‘You go.’ They are type of residing vicariously (by means of me). They think it’s exhilaration and glamor. It is glamorous in a way, but it is a good deal of really hard do the job, way too.”

Lennear’s to start with flavor of it all arrived in the 1960s, when she toured and recorded with Ike and Tina as 1 of their dynamic “Ikette” backup singers. Ike and Tina opened for the Rolling Stones in the course of a 1969 tour. Lennear and Mick Jagger became “very close friends” and she is cited as the inspiration for “Brown Sugar,” a No. 1 tune for the Stones in 1971. She also inspired Bowie to write the 1973 music “Girl Grinning Soul.”

Lennear is asked about staying the inspiration for “Brown Sugar” and “Lady Grinning Soul” in just about every interview, this one incorporated. Her connection to people tunes provides to her mystique. She explained no one ever brings up the actuality that Russell wrote tracks about her, way too. For instance: “This Masquerade.” Lennear said there is ongoing discussion about no matter if Russell’s “A Music for You” was about her. Irrespective, the tunes were hits and she remained good friends with the artists concerned, so, all very good.

Lennear was introduced to Russell by Gram Parsons about a 7 days after she parted approaches with Ike and Tina. Lennear stated she and Mick had been collectively when Parsons stopped by and invited her to support with some demos at A&M Documents.

Meanwhile, the band Russell assembled for Cocker’s Mad Canines and Englishmen Tour was working towards on a sound stage at A&M. Parsons released Lennear to Cocker and Russell. The introduction morphed into an audition, with Lennear singing “Let It Be.”

“It was a hit with the Beatles initially … and then Aretha Franklin also reduce a edition of that,” she explained. “I utilized to typically listen to soul stations, so which is how I definitely listened to the track. And of training course, I’m just these types of a enthusiast of Aretha that the track just stayed on my intellect and I’m so happy it did for the reason that I had an possibility to sing it that fateful working day when I achieved all those amazing Tulsa musicians at A&M studio.”

Lennear executed “Let it Be” for the duration of the historic and sprawling Mad Puppies and Englishmen Tour.

“It was Leon’s vision to make it this big rhythm part, a enormous choir,” she claimed. “And several of the fellas in the band, you know, their girlfriends went alongside. Some of them experienced toddlers, experienced small children. Youngsters went together. Canines and cats, they went, way too.”

Lennear stated it was a distinctive encounter for her to perform with so many musicians (a number of almost everything, basically). Initially, she was bewildered.

“I’m like, nicely, I cannot determine out who’s heading to enjoy what, and when, but after I listened to them a couple moments, I imagined, boy, this is seriously so diverse and so unconventional and so amazing that I just resigned myself to be a component of it.”

Soon after the tour wrapped, Russell took numerous associates of the band back again on the highway as component of his Shelter Men and women. She contributed to the 1971 album “Leon Russell and the Shelter People” prior to he bought Church Studio in Tulsa and, that similar year, she joined Russell and other superstars (Harrison, Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan) to accomplish at the historic Concert for Bangladesh.

“We ended up two peas in the pod in all those times,” Lennear reported. “We just made good friends promptly and we both of those liked the very same music — songs my mother had taught me and gospel tunes — so we hit it off musically ideal away.”

Lennear, requested what she would want individuals to know about Russell, claimed she would likely have difficulty finding only 1 factor, so she made available various observations rather.

“He was quite intelligent just about lifetime in typical,” she explained. “He experienced a sure perception that most folks really don’t have. He could sort of have you summed up in advance of you turn the corner. He was just one of those kind of guys, just pretty astute and quite perceptive.

“He was also so educated about new music — and not just rock and roll, but so several various models of audio. Leon could enjoy with ease. It could be classical new music. It could be rock. It could be blues. You title it and he could participate in it. Individually, I discover his expertise to be amazing.

“And then he was humorous. He genuinely had a fantastic perception of humor. And essentially he was a great individual. He was just a great guy who just actually wanted to share the knowledge that he had with other musicians that he grew up with or acquired together with nicely and just go out and share that with the earth.”

Lennear by no means lived in Tulsa, but she spent chunks of time below and she stays in call with a lot of Tulsa musicians. She said she arrived back again 6 months in the past for the 1st time considering the fact that the 1970s and she is thrilled to be returning to rejoice what would have been Russell’s 80th birthday. She made a going again to Tulsa a person far more time reference, for each lyrics on Russell’s “Home Sweet Oklahoma.”

Lennear named Tulsa a terrific spot full of fantastic persons. But she said the earth is not as wonderful a area as it was when Russell was generating new music.

“I am really partial to his expertise,” she mentioned.

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