Critical Questions: Annie HaslamBY JIM ALLEN
British prog-rock band Renaissance actually began at the end of the ‘60s as an offshoot of The Yardbirds. Its initial lineup featured two key members of that classic blues-rock outfit: singer/guitarist Keith Relf and drummerJim McCarty, with Relf's sister Jane sharing lead vocal duties. Beginning with 1972's Prologue, however, the band was fronted by crystal-voiced songbird Annie Haslam, who has been at the forefront of Renaissance ever since. Renaissance reformed in recent years, with Haslam and guitarist Michael Dunford still on board from the ‘70s lineup; they're currently performing milestone albums like 1974's Turn of the Cards and 1975's Scheherazade & Other Stories in their entirety (see the new live CD/DVD Renaissance Tour 2011). They're also at work on Grandine Il Vento, their first new album in 11 years (and only their second since 1983). Haslam, whose personality turns out to be as lovely as her voice, was kind enough to take a trot through her band's history, leading up to the 21st century Renaissance.
What had Michael Dunford been doing before he convinced you to start up Renaissance again?
He'd written a musical based around "The Song of Scheherazade," which is one of the tracks on the album Scheherazade...so he'd been working on that for several years. I think it was his son actually, his son said, "Dad, why don't you get the band back together again?" I had been approached quite a few times before that by other members of the band and I just kept saying no.
Currently available from Gonzo: