Proudly Canadian: Nanette Workman

Rock 'n' Romance Nanette Workman.jpg

Submitted by Sandy Graham

Nanette Joan Workman was born in New York but has been based in Quebec, Canada during much of her career. She holds dual citizenship in both the United States and Canada. She was raised by musician parents in Jackson, Mississippi  where she began her first performances. She mainly performs in French although raised speaking English. During her career she has recorded together with numerous well-known musicians in the U.S., Canada, England, and France and been recognized in Mississippi both by being elected to that state's Musicians Hall of Fame and having a Francophone house named after her at the state university.

Her mother, Beatryce Kreisman, was in the chorus of Naughty Marietta with the New York City Opera Company, and her father, Ernest Workman, played trumpet in Tommy Dorsey's orchestra. She grew up in Jackson, Mississippi. As a child she studied piano and began her career at 11, appearing in the local WLBT television series Mr.Magic (later Junior Time) until she was given her own weekly show, Teen Tempos. She graduated from  Provine High School  then attended the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg leaving college at 18 for Broadway.

After understudying the lead of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, she played the role of Rosemary in 1964 and later played the lead in summer stock. In 1966 Workman met Tony Roman ]and recorded her first French single, "Et Maintenant", for him in Canada, where the song remained on the charts for fifteen weeks after becoming number one. Over the next two years she became a Canadian recording and TV star finally hosting Fleurs D'Amours et Fleurs d'Amitie. Then in 1969 Workman moved to England where she appeared weekly on Peter Cook and Dudley Moore's comedy series Not Only... But Also. Credited as Nanette Newman, Workman sang backup vocals on "You Can't Always Get What You Want" and "Country Honk", tracks from the The Rolling Stones' 1969 album Let it Bleed, as well as on the Stones' 1969 single, "Honky Tonk Woman". She also worked with John Lennon and Elton John. In addition, she appeared in one of the black-and-white episodes of The Benny Hill Show (appearing as Nanette), performing "Everybody's Singing Like Now" on the February 24, 1971 edition.

Workman toured France in 1973 as an opening act for Johnny Hallyday. She made three albums with Yves Martin touring Africa, Polynesia and Europe prior to coming back to Quebec in 1974 where she recorded several more French albums. Lady Marmalade, Danser Danser, and especially Call Girl (by Luc Plamondon) placed first on the hit parades. Returning to France in 1978, she starred in the Rock Opera Starmania as Sadia. In 1979 she sang backs in the Mahogany Rush song "Sister Change" ("Tales of an Unexpected" album). In 1980 she made an album Chaude in collaboration with her brother Billy Workman and Luc Plamondon and toured Quebec with the show Du gramophone au laser which recounted the history of the Québécois chanson. In 1990 she returned to Paris to become La Diva in Plamondon-Berger's second rock opera, La Légende de Jimmy, based on the life of James Dean.

In April 2000 Nanette Workman was inducted into the Mississippi Musicians Hall of Fame. Roots N Blues, another album in English, was released in May 2001. In 2001 she also appeared in a Radio-Canada television series, Rivière-des-Jérémie, and was the hostess for thirteen episodes of Generation 70.

In 2007, she was recognized by the State of Mississippi when Governor Haley Barbour honored her at the opening of The Nanette Workman French (Francophone) House on the Mississippi State University campus. The NWFH houses American and French-speaking students from around the world as an upper-classman residence.

Also in 2007, Nanette and Mario Bolduc began working on writing her biography to prepare for a new album. In 2008, The Biography of Nanette, entitled Rock N’Romance was received with great acclaim and became a bestseller. An album entitled "Anthology" was launched simultaneously.

Years after completing her blues trilogy – Roots’n’Blues, Vanilla Blues Café and Mississippi Rolling Stone – Nanette Workman returns with Just Gettin’ Started. This new album, the 21st of her career, delivers 13 electrifying tracks of blues-tinged southern rock. Singer-songwriter, arranger and musician Nanette brings four original songs to the album: the joyous Just Gettin’ Started, written with bassist Brian Smith, Hurt My Heart, a collaboration with Steve Hill, and the languorous What The Heck, composed with guitarist Steve Segal. Listeners will also find When Love Leaves The Room, a touching ballad written, composed and arranged by Nanette, who accompanies herself on piano. Keyboardist Bob Stagg offers Man With A Heart, a nod to Nanette’s love of poker.

These new songs meet old friends in covers of songs she dearly loves and makes utterly her own, with contributions from an impressive array of musicians who bring a rich musicality to the work. Nanette punches a booster shot of soul into Still Rainin’ (Jonny Lang), rejuvenates Young Blood (The Coasters), revamps It’s All Over Now (The Rolling Stones), spices up Isn’t That So (Jesse Winchester) with a soupçon of groove and revisits Tell Somebody by close friend Sass Jordan, with whom she strolls through Memphis Jane (Buddy and Julie Miller). Nanette also duets with Anik Jean on the Stones classic Wild Horses, with a sensitive arrangement courtesy of guitarist Frank Marino. And to close the album, Nanette delivers a nuanced rendition of the timeless Georgia On My Mind, a classic she has often sung live but never recorded.

Just Gettin’ Started also features appearances by guitarists Jimmy James, Roger Mann and Christian Péloquin, pianist Yvon Bellemare, harmonica wizards Guy Bélanger, Jim Zeller and Carl Tremblay, trumpeter Maxime St-Pierre, bassist Dominic Laroche, drummers Jimmy Ayoub, Denis Cantin, Denis Courchesne, Sam Harrisson and Sébastien Langlois, and backup vocalists Marie-Ève, Caroline and Karine Riverin.

Produced by Nanette Workman, Steve Segal and Bros, Just Gettin’ Started was recorded by Glen Robinson at Studios Martin Deschamps in Rawdon, and mixed by Glen Robinson and Steve Segal. Additional tracks were recorded at studios 1680, Fast Forward, Mixart and Backroom.

Still a vibrant and amazing singer/songwriter, Nanette Workman still can deliver when it comes to her vocals and delivery.

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