Belinda Blair

Bay Music and Entertainment performer Belinda Blair

Belinda Blair first sang in public at the of age six, joined her first original band at the age of seventeen and by eighteen was touring the states in an L.A.-based cover band that worked six nights a week. Culminating in a USO tour of the South Pacific, she had played US military bases, aircraft carriers, and officers clubs throughout Korea, Japan, and the Marshall Islands by her nineteenth year.

Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Belinda had studied theatre and music while supplementing her income as a voice-over artist and composer for commercials and jingles. After her extensive touring, she moved to New York City to act in a series of independent films, music videos, commercials and stage plays while continuing to hone her vocal skills through the formation of several original rock bands. Belinda eventually gravitated to Europe where she sang on the streets of Paris with up and coming jazz guitarist Charlie Hunter among others. It was on the streets of Paris that she fell under the influence of a young, international jazz scene. She memorized and sang Charlie Parker solos while working up arrangements by Dizzy Gillespie and Cab Calloway. Belinda landed a steady gig at Les Trois Maillets, a famous cabaret venue in the Latin Quarter of Paris where Billie Holiday, Nina Simone and other renowned jazz singers got their start. She played five nights a week at two in the morning and was just able to eke out a living by getting herself booked in other Parisian clubs. Touring through Europe as lead singer for the swing group,The Rhythm Pygmies and ’60s Motown act, The Killer Bees, was a means to expand her musical talents beyond the jazz genre.

Belinda settled in London and formed an original Brit pop band called Camel Quality Radio with co-writer Tim Alford who recorded and produced their album, Sideshow. She made her living singing in London jazz clubs with British pianist Dave Gordon by forming the Belinda Blair Jazz Quintet in an attempt to recreate the feeling and style of Billie Holiday’s torch songs. She eventually returned to the states to settle in San Francisco that was, at the time, experiencing an emerging swing scene.

While in San Francisco, Belinda earned a masters degree in dramatic arts and formed the six-piece swing band, Jellyroll, with drummer Steve Dekrone.The band recorded two CDs on Checker Records, Hep Cats Holiday and Hoo-Dee-A-Da. They toured the West coast extensively and received a California Music Award for Outstanding Lounge/Swing Act. Employing an iron horse work ethic and garnering critical acclaim, Jellyroll became a staple of the revitalized West coast swing scene for almost a decade. Always searching for new and creative projects, Belinda enrolled Russian guitarist, Konstantine Baranov to co-write material for an indie, art band they dubbed The Earthlings. Influences came from groups as varied as the Cocteau Twins and King Crimson but they eventually found their own sound with bassist Edo Castro to create a hypnotizing layering of guitar, bass and vocal effects. They found an audience performing at galleries and art parties in San Francisco and recorded their self-titled cd . One of her latest endeavors with the band Jellyroll was to get five of her songs (co-written with Dekrone) on the soundtrack of the independent movie, Swing, starring Jacquiline Bisset and Jonathan Winters. Belinda was featured in the movie with Jellyroll, singing their swing dance number, Jellyroll Jump.

Original projects have also included co-writing and recording another album with Baranov along with Constantin Gavrilov, also a talented Russian musician whose specialties of programming drum and keyboard loops root their record, Life Copies Movies, in alternative rock and electronica. In the role of vocalist/lyricist, Belinda invokes the valium-softened optimism of a suburban June Cleaver hovering over the edge of a cliff wondering whether it is real or merely a figment of her imagination. . Belinda leads an intimate jazz trio called the Blair Jazz Project who currently play clubs and events in and around the San Francisco bay area. Once again she zeroes in on her seductive, vintage singing style to voice not only torch songs from past eras but also to reinterpret and put a new spin on songs by Tom Waits, Patsy Cline, Radiohead, Al Green and other leading contemporary artists.

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