Renee Olstead to reinterpret old pop and jazz standards in ‘Summertime’
After Michael Buble and before Charice Pempengco, there was Renee Olstead.
Former David Foster mentee Renee Olstead will go all out to showcase her maturity as a pop-jazz artist a decade after her breakthrough days with the composer-star maker in “Summertime,” a dinner show this Saturday, March 29, at the Isla Grand Ballroom of the Edsa Shangri La, Manila.
The young singer-songwriter and television actress is expected to reinterpret old pop and jazz standards picked from her eponymous 2004 album and Skylark, released in 2009, both produced by Foster, as well as a number of new songs she’s written since then.
Perhaps more known to Filipino audiences for her TV acting roles in Still Standing and The Secret Life of The American Teenager, Olstead has been singing professionally since she was ten. Dabbling in country music at first, the now 24-year old Texan released the album Stone Country and EP Unleashed in 2000, both to mixed reviews.
After she discovered old school jazz watching a movie and found that she loved it, she ditched the bubbly country twang and came out reinvented in 2002 with the release of By Request, featuring old jazz and pop favorites. It was her work on a major music label with Foster, however, that got her into the limelight, with a little help from established artists like vocalist Peter Cincotti and trumpeter Chris Botti guesting on the albums.
In a press conference held last Wednesday at the hotel’s E Bar to promote the show, the young singer-actress acknowledged and was thankful for Foster’s role in honing her talent and shaping her musical career.
She also related her excitement at first hearing vocal jazz. “I was actually watching this movie called “Puppy Love” and this song, “At Last” by Etta James excited me. I said, ‘My God, what is this? Why haven’t I heard this before?’”
The youngster immediately proceeded to research the song and the singer in the library (she’s an admitted library freak) and got to know Billie Holiday, Anita O’Day and all the jazz and blues artists “across the board.” She described her appreciation of jazz as “organic” and wished that young people would discover and develop a relationship with the music in their own way, too, “without preconceived notions about what it is all about, what jazz looks like.”
Speaking of organic, Olstead is an avowed vegan since around the same time she started her career in entertainment. She’s also a noted animal rights advocate, having done a poster video for PETA, and was one of the international artists who were vocal of the plight of Mali, the Manila Zoo’s “lonely elephant.” She visited the zoo in 2012 and saw for herself the unfortunate animal’s living conditions.
Her television fans, though, will have to be a little patient, as she is opting to put her acting career on hold for the moment to focus on singing, saying “it’s what’s important to me now.”
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