In 1997, Helen teamed with long-time collaborator Leah Cotterell for a turn in Women in Voice as a double bass and vocal duo. This turned into an ongoing project resulting in two releases and many performances, including tours and an appearance at the Melbourne Women’s International Jazz Festival.
The Boy Next Door: The duo revisits the Judy Garland hit by Blane/Martin.
These Foolish Things: This atmospheric old song (Marvell/Strachey/Link) is given the duet treatment.
The Last Dance At Cloudland: “This song was written especially for the social history show Foolish Things that Leah and I put together. It evokes memories of Brisbane’s iconic dance venue “Cloudland”, from the 20s to the 80s, after which it was unceremoniously demolished by the Bjelke-Peterson government.” —HR. Music & arrangement by Helen Russell, lyrics by Leah Cotterell.
The duet set about arranging songs from every decade of the twentieth century for a show that was toured around South East Queensland for the Arts Council. In between the recording of two CDs, (which quickly became favourites with the ABC’s Radio National program, “The Planet”) there were performances at the Woodford Folk Festival, the Brisbane Cabaret Festival and at the Brisbane City Council’s Seniors’ Week concerts.
The Last Dance at Cloudland EP was released to coincide with the social history show, Foolish Things. This show was a research project taking ‘A glimpse into Brisbane Popular Music Performance since WWII’, by drawing on the memories and scrapbooks of 16 of Brisbane’s busiest musicians and venue operators. In 2005, the music theatre performance Foolish Things debuted at City Hall as part of The Queensland Music Festival, and at the same time the research by Leah and Helen was seen in a Story Hall Exhibition co-sponsored by the Museum of Brisbane and the QPAC Museum. More Information.
Sher Williams, STAGE