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Career

The Chicks Suzanne Lynch on nearing 70 and life being more exciting than ever

At 68, the singer has a lot going on!

By Lynley Ward
She's sung on hundreds of stages across the globe with some of the biggest names in music and even performed for royalty, but Suzanne Lynch can still vividly recall the first time she took the stage in Auckland's Town Hall.
As she steps back inside the grand historic building, the petite '60s singing sensation casts her mind back more than half a century when she and her sister Judy Hindman – the other half of teenage pop duo The Chicks – couldn't even walk down Queen Street without being swamped by fans.
"The first big concert we did here was with Sandie Shaw and The Pretty Things from the UK. It was a tour of New Zealand that started in the Auckland Town Hall. We did Sandie's vocal backing and all I remember was the Town Hall seemed absolutely enormous and now it's actually not enormous at all!"
Getting in the swing of the '60s with sister Judy in The Chicks.
There may not be quite the same raucous displays of adulation when she joins the Auckland Symphony Orchestra as guest artist in its upcoming Last Night of the Proms.
It's not the first time she's performed with the orchestra, but she's excited at the prospect of enjoying a brief departure from singing with a backing band.
"It's chalk and cheese," says the songstress (68).
"The feeling you get standing amongst the orchestra... You can actually sing, do you know what I mean? I feel they're with me as I'm with them. It's always beautiful and always a treat.
"And I love the fact there are some people in the orchestra that are older and really friendly, so the rapport I have with them is just lovely. When you feel comfortable with the people you are working with, you relax and do your best performance."
It's a chance for fans to hear the former Entertainer of the Year sing one of her biggest hits, Yesterday When I was Young, which is being arranged specially for the orchestra.
"It's a song I recorded way back in 1970. It was very popular in this country and written by Charles Aznavour. A lovely little tie-up is that when I went to England, I toured with Charles around Europe. It was so lovely and I'm really looking forward
to hearing what the orchestra does with it."
It was just a few months ago that another famous musician who featured prominently in both Suzanne and bass-playing former husband Bruce Lynch's international career came to Aotearoa, to stand with us in the wake of the March mosque attacks.
Suzanne, who says it's "always beautiful" to sing with an orchestra, is looking forward to Last Night of the Proms.
When Yusuf Islam, also known as Cat Stevens, took the stage at the national memorial in Christchurch, Bruce joined him on stage playing double bass for his poignant rendition of Peace Train, a testament to the Kiwi pair's enduring friendship with the star, forged while playing in his band in the '70s.
"I like to think he feels close to New Zealand because Bruce and I were in his band for five years," Suzanne says.
"He expressed interest straight away in coming here and supporting it in any way he could. I thought the speech he gave was very eloquent and perfect."
Suzanne says she and Bruce remain firm friends with Yusuf, who gave up performing in the late '70s for several decades after he converted to Islam.
"The last time he was here doing a concert, he rang. I was at the hairdressers and the whole salon went quiet, everything got turned off, and I'm busy talking to Yusuf. We chatted for about half an hour just about music, the way it was going, what I was doing, what he was doing. He's flying Bruce to France in July to record his next album, so we're still constantly in touch, which is lovely."
The Weekly marks major milestones in Suzanne's archive
Suzanne has stayed on in New Zealand, working on TV talent shows, performing in her band The Ladykillers, nurturing a new generation of talented singers, and more recently hosting music-themed travel tours – and she is also turning her hand to writing a memoir about her rich career, which she began as a fresh-faced 14-year-old from West Auckland.
Not surprisingly, she's consulting an extensive archive – including major milestones marked by the Weekly.
"My mother kept lots of clippings. I was looking through my pile of old photos and the Woman's Weekly is in there quite a lot. I always have a fondness for the Weekly.
"It was there for The Chicks, and when I had my daughter, saying I was going to retire..." she laughs.
As the entertainer prepares for her two-night orchestral gig, she confesses life is anything but slowing up."I'm busier than I've ever been! I went to my doctor the other day and she said, 'Suzanne, you're not 21 any more,' and I said, 'Are you sure? Because I'm so busy!'
"My life is so full. I've got some wonderful friends and I'm so lucky and grateful for the gift I have."

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