She’s a Rebel

To call Darlene Love’s five-decade music career a roller coaster ride would be putting it mildly.

To call Darlene Love’s five-decade music career a roller coaster ride would be putting it mildly.

The Cabaret Festival-bound singer’s career has experienced more twists and turns and ups and downs than a Sunday drive through the Adelaide Hills but right now it is in the ascendency thanks to the recent Academy Award-winning documentary 20 Feet From Stardom, a new album she’s recording with the E-Street Band’s Steven Van Zandt and an upcoming TV movie based on her life starring Toni Braxton. The 72-year-old Love rose to prominence as part of Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound recording group. She was the uncredited voice behind The Crystals’ hit He’s a Rebel before recording two classics under her own name for Spector: Today I Met the Boy I’m Going to Marry and Christmas (Baby Please Come Home), arguably the 20th century’s greatest Christmas song. Aside from Spector, Love worked with many music legends including Sam Cooke, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley and The Beach Boys. But in the 70s her career hit a low. Love was working as a cleaner when she heard Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) on the radio. This inspired a comeback. “Christmas is my favourite time of the year,” explains the singer who used to perform Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) every year as part of David Letterman’s Christmas special. “Everyone is into giving, everyone is happy and rejoicing. I thought it was amazing that I would hear that song and it turned my life around. I’ve just been going straight ahead ever since, even though it’s taken a long time.” Right now her career is at its peak, thanks to the Academy Award-winning film about back-up singers, 20 Feet From Stardom, which heavily features Love. “One thing about my career is that I never know where it’s going to take me. Even the year I was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame [2011], that was a surprise for me. We were waiting for it to happen and it finally happened. I’m always very excited, even from day-to-day, about what’s happening to me and what’s happening with my career. I think you have to be prepared for anything to happen and I think that’s what’s going on right now. “When I performed at the White House years ago, I thought, ‘Wow, I’m singing for President Clinton. This is fantastic’. When I got inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, I thought, ‘This is it. This is great’. Then we were nominated for the Academy Award. Then we won with that movie and I thought, ‘Wait a minute, where do I go from here?’ Those three things are a joy for me. And I just wait for the next thing. I never say never. Because you never know where your career’s going to take you.” Steven Van Zandt encouraged Love to move to New York in the 80s and, along with Bruce Springsteen, has been a big supporter of her career. Van Zandt and Love started working on an album a couple of months ago. “Now that our careers are so crazy, he’s doing a movie right now in Norway and working with Bruce too, and with me and all my travelling, we’re trying to match our schedules. Even if we’re both in New York for three days, we try and get together. If we could just do one song a month that would be great,” she laughs. “The biggest thing I’d like to do now is have a record, just have a record out. People need to hear, although people give me work, they still don’t get to me see perform how I want to perform – I want to perform for the masses. I have to have a record to do that.” An Evening with Darlene Love Cabaret Festival Friday, June 20 adelaidefestivalcentre.com.au/adelaide-cabaret-festival

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