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Give It A Girl

Radio (Full Length Episodes) – 2007

To be stuck in sort of a genre like pop, or rock, or something is actually a bit limiting for me, because I'd rather just be writing...I'd love to write soundtracks. In fact, I'm hoping Peter Jackson might give me a call one day.
– Jan Hellriegel on her ambition to write soundtracks
What a great boot camp for...singers to be given the opportunity to sing jingles. Oh my goodness, I still have the scars on my back (giggle) from him whipping me.
– Annie Crummer on learning the ropes, singing jingles for jingle maestro Murray Grindlay
And off I went to London and before I knew what had hit me, in the 70s, I was living in England...I performed on his show, we did two duets together, and there were 30 million people watching.
– Suzanne Lynch on being invited to sing on Irish star Val Doonican's TV show
And then Jeff Buckley, he just absolutely loved my set. And my record company came in afterwards, and said 'aw gee, you are quite good, aren't you?'. And he just turned around to them and said 'you guys, you have no idea what a talent she is'.
– Jan Hellriegel recalls playing a solo support slot in Sydney, for American musician Jeff Buckley
There were too many teeth. People were smiling so much, and I didn't understand why they were smiling so much. I thought it was quite a fake world.
– Anika Moa recalls her time in the United States while promoting her debut album Thinking Room
Margaret Urlich went three times platinum in Australia with her album Safety in Numbers ... Jenny Morris and Margaret Urlich, between them, had sold over 900,000 albums. It occurred to me that New Zealand women singers/musicians have enormous public appeal but little respect from the industry, which has been reflected in books written and documentaries made. The public however, love them!
– Debbie Harwood gives examples of some of the female artists who fail to appear in Give It A Whirl, in a funding application for her Give It A Girl project
We went to the studio every day with my producer Victor Van Vugt and it was a basement studio like Silence of the Lambs. It was so scary...
– Anika Moa on recording her album Thinking Room in New York
They had a company called Wireless, so it was me, Matty J, Anthony Iosa, Paul [Casserly] and Mark [Tierney] and we were a jingle machine...
– Leza Corban on her successful career as a jingle singer in the 1990s
That demo ended up on you know on James Southgate's desk from Warner Music and he rang me up and said 'Oh we wanna sign you mate, choice' But I didn't even know what that meant. I just thought 'oh yup, free trip up to Auckland...'
– Anika Moa recalls the phone call that started her pop career
I was managing a band called Big Sideways and they were recording, and I just sort of piped up one day and said 'oh you know, if you want some backing vocals I can sing a little bit'. And I started singing the backing vocals on their recordings. So I was managing them, doing their lights, doing their door and jumping up at the end and singing on the last few songs. Eventually I ended up fronting the band.
– Debbie Harwood on her break into the Auckland live music scene
'Lydia' was one of those songs that I kind of wrote in about 10 minutes, it just all flowed, just came out ... I wish I knew how to tap into that, every time. It was just some kind of like weird divination of ideas that just sort of appeared out of seemingly nowhere. I don't know what synapses are firing to achieve that, I wish I'd do it more often...
– Julia Deans on writing Fur Patrol's number one hit 'Lydia'
Touring with the Headless Chickens was actually an awesome experience. It was really lovely to have joined a band I adored, but also to have joined a group of five men who were just lovely, beautiful guys..who treated me like a big sister...
– Fiona McDonald on joining her favourite band as a vocalist
It felt interesting: you'd sit on the bus and people would go 'that's that girl...'
– Leza Corban on being recognised thanks to Strawpeople single 'Sweet Disorder'
Being the youngest came into it because I used to be on my own at home on Friday nights. They used to have movies on, we had one TV channel. I just fell in love with Henry Fonda — I just thought he was the most beautiful, remarkable, amazing human being I'd ever seen and literally went through the emotions of unrequited love for this man who was 50 years older than me. And I did write to him and got a signed photo back.
– Shona Laing on the Hollywood inspiration behind her breakthrough song '1905'
When it was obvious that people loved the band and were flocking to our shows, I approached CBS with the idea of recording a single, 'Melting Pot'. There was little interest. The manager at the time said 'we don't think this will work..but Debbie, if you bring us the finished song with a video (i.e. you pay for them) we'll pop the song in the shops.' So we paid for the single and video with our live income ... it went to number one immediately.
– Debbie Harwood, in an early funding application for the Give It A Girl project
Now, more than ever there is a chance that a musician will ‘make it’ in New Zealand. The women of this story helped pave the way by following their passions, with or without support or return. It is on the shoulders of Sharon O’Neill, Jenny Morris and the other women of the vanguard that Bic and Brooke now stand.
– Debbie Harwood, in an early funding application for her Give It A Girl project
The James Brown bit was awesome, but there was this one sort of solo by one of his back up singers...I just listened to it over and over and over, and 'It's a Man's Man's Man's World' has been my favourite song since about that age.
– Hollie Smith on her strongest early musical influence
One of the girls said, 'Let's call it The Money or The Bags'. We were sitting in Annie's lounge. "Someone else said, 'Let's call it Ladies Bring A Plate' and at that point I went, 'Oh let's just sleep on it shall we?'... I went home and in the middle of the night I just woke up and went 'When The Cat's Away' – because we were all in bands so we were actually mice in the sense that we were all in original bands and we just wanted to have a break from those bands. I thought the name was perfect.
– Debbie Harwood on finding the right name for When the Cat's Away, TV Guide, 18 April 2019
I just opened my mouth and this demon came out.
– Annie Crummer on singing her beloved guest vocal on Netherworld Dancing Toys hit 'For Today'
...it was my favourite musical ever. But I did find it difficult — because Mary's not a big role. She's got some great songs — well two and a half great songs — I would have preferred to be Judas or Jesus.
– Margaret Urlich on playing Mary in stage musical Jesus Christ Superstar
We were doing one particular track and we needed another voice, we needed another part. So, the producer John Boylan, who used to work with Linda Ronstadt, and knows all The Eagles guys, he says 'hang on a minute', and he went walkabout, and he came back with Don Henley and I was just sort of totally gobsmacked actually.
– Sharon O'Neill on recording her third album Foreign Affairs in the United States, with American producer John Boylan
It's an amazing buzz to hear something that you've...nurtured from the first note, that's become a song, and then somebody else likes it enough to perform it.
– Sharon O'Neill on focussing on writing after a dispute with her record company
I just put some of the money aside from one of the tours, and spent three grand on the single 'Melting Pot', and three grand on the video, which is very obvious now when I look back...it was cheap! And took them to Sony, or to CBS then, and they released it and it went to number one in the first week, and they'd underestimated our live fan base, which is really what it's all about. Radio jumped on it. It was massive.
– Debbie Harwood on the work put in, getting When the Cat's Away on the airwaves and in record stores
The Cats toured for two and a half years before ‘Melting Pot’ was released. As the single shot to number one in 1988, the industry was incredulous. Considering the lack of support at the time, our success was like a flower cracking through concrete! The sharemarket crash had just happened, and the New Zealand public loved the band because we were optimistic and energetic. Sometimes I felt like Vera Lynn cheering up the troops ... There was a little bit of bitterness at the necessity of forming such a band: a band that was born out of exhaustion from trying to get airplay and support for our original music, a band that was supposed to be merely a short break from the slog.
– Give It A Girl producer Debbie Harwood on the success of ensemble group When the Cat's Away, in her backgrounder

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