Queensland, Australia (Top40 Charts/ Pippa Hayes Official Website)
For a new talent, a debut album can be a hit or miss affair. Given months, sometimes years, to prepare for that crucial moment, an artist can either choke from the pressure or smack a home run. In the case of Australian vocalist Pippa Hayes, the result is a grand slam. Hayes has just released her first CD, "It Had to Be You," a spine-tingling collection of jazz standards sung with real soul and deep-seated passion.
The cinematic quality of Hayes" vocals - she would"ve been a perfect torch singer in a '40s film - may stem from the fact that her original inspiration in becoming a musician came from the movies. "It was a private screening of the film 'Imitation of Life." My father owned and operated the local picture theatre. I would have been four or five years old at the time when I heard Mahalia Jackson, the great Gospel singer who played the part of a church choir soloist in the film," Hayes remembered. "This was when I knew I could do this." Hayes added that, "It wasn"t just the song; it was the whole movie, indelibly imprinted in my mind."
Prior to seeing Jackson in "Imitation of Life," Hayes" early tastes in music leaned towards Louis Armstrong and Nat King Cole, whom she both regularly heard on the radio. Ironically, it wasn"t their singing that made the biggest impression on her; it was the instruments they played. "To this day I can still recall the beautiful tone of Armstrong"s trumpet, pure joy. Also, Cole"s piano playing. It was not so much the singers of the day; it was mostly their instruments," Hayes observed.
Then again, Hayes" voice is an instrument itself, one that she utilizes to powerful effect on "It Had to Be You." If it sounds like a personal record, it is. "I'm in love with these songs. For some reason I've always had an affinity with music of the '30s and '40s. My nanna sang the old pop/standards of the day Irving Berlin, Jerome
Kern, and Gershwin songs. Apart from being beautiful tunes, I guess I like them for sentimental reasons. I was very close to my nanna and these songs always remind me of her," Hayes revealed.