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Progressive Rock Interviews

Annie Haslam

Interviewed by Gary Hill and Jason Hillenburg

Interview with Annie Haslam from 2015


You have had quite an interesting career so far. Are there moments or projects that stand out more than others?

Performing at Carnegie Hall with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra and The Royal Albert Hall with The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Royal Chorale Society. Cruise to the Edge April 2014 - Progressive Rock Band Cruise with Yes and other great prog bands.
MSJ: What memories do you have of Keith Relf?
I met Keith Relf when I went for my audition for lead singer of Renaissance, the only time I met him, he was a really nice person. Sadly he died too young.

What are some of your favorite memories of Michael Dunford?

Michael was a real gentleman and a great songwriter. He wrote with my voice in mind and always “stretched” my voice as far as it would go...In our recent reformation from 2009 he was the “rock” in the band, particularly in our live concerts. We all miss him terribly.
MSJ: There have been several new items coming out both from your solo career and from Renaissance recently. What can you tell us about those things?
We have a studio album we released last April called “Symphony of Light,” our first in 14 years. This came about from a successful campaign on Kickstarter a crowd funding Internet site. With the help of our fans we were able to produce new music! It has been very popular with our fans and has been likened to some of our earlier albums such as Turn of the Cards.

I also re-released my solo Live Studio Concert Philadelphia 1997 on my own label, originally recorded for the Prism TV Network.

MSJ: If you weren't involved in music what do you think you'd be doing?
I started painting in 2002, a passion I love as much as singing. I paint guitars (I have one that was commissioned by CF Martin Guitars that hangs in their museum in Nazareth, Pennsylvania, and I also paint electric Violins for Wood Violins. I am already heavily into my art which will stay with me for years to come.
MSJ: Who would you see as your musical influences?
Personally, Joan Baez and Joni Mitchell
MSJ: What's ahead for you?
We are touring England and Europe this coming April 2015, which is very exciting as the band has not toured there in over 30 years. We have been to Japan and South Korea in recent years, but I would like to take the band to Brazil (where I have been with my solo band) and Australia and New Zealand. Personally I have some solo project ideas and, of course, lots of painting to do.
MSJ: I know artists hate to have their music pigeonholed or labeled, but how would you describe your music?
symphonic rock
MSJ: Are there musicians with whom you would like to play with in the future?
Lindsey Stirling (violinist who plays one of my painted electric Viper 'Wood' violins in her youtube video of Phantom of the Opera that went viral see link…)

Craig Armstrong - modern orchestral composer and film scores

Steve Hackett brilliant guitarist from original Genesis 

Jose Carreras - opera singer

Mary Fahl - singer songwriter 

Patrick Moraz - keyboard/synthesizers genius (Moody Blues and Yes)


Do you think that illegal downloading of music is a help or hindrance to the careers of musicians?

Personally I feel downloading is a hindrance. To work for months in a studio writing and recording a new album to have it stolen soon after release is unbearable and tragic! I know several musicians who have walked away from the business because of this, so very sad. How can musicians survive if others are taking from our life's work? But then there is another side that some say is positive in that the downloading is giving the musicians more exposure….. I guess we all have our own opinions.

MSJ: In a related question, how do you feel about fans recording shows and trading them?*
Well..... there is the strong possibility that they end up being sold in the end and not just traded so I feel the same about that too.
MSJ: If you were to put together your ultimate band (a band you'd like to hear or catch live), who would be in it and why?
Annie Haslam lead vocals, John Wetton lead vocals - best male voice on the planet, Rick Wakeman on synthesizers - best there is, Rave Tesar on piano - another extremely talented player (he's in Renaissance and a writer and producer), Yo Yo Ma on cello he's the best! Steve Hackett on guitar he's a genius…..Stanley Clark on bass, one of the best on the planet, Renaissance opened for Return to Forever in the 70s, Gavin Harrison on drums (played in Renaissance early 80s, he has incredible talent) and The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
MSJ: If you were in charge of assembling a music festival and wanted it to be the ultimate one from your point of view who would be playing?

Kate Bush


Alan Parson's Project

Procol Harum

Moody Blues

MSJ: What was the last CD you bought and/or what have you been listening to lately?
Recently I have been listening to a Brazilian artist called “Milton Nascimento.” I love Brazilian music and musicians and Brazil, I have performed there with my solo band and guested with Brazilian musicians!
MSJ: Have you read any good books lately?
I am not much of a reader, never have been, only when I had to at school... but I was drawn to The Celestine Prophecy and The Four Agreements a few years ago.
MSJ: What about the last concert you attended for your enjoyment?
The Beach Boys at Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, Summer 2013
MSJ: Do you have a musical “guilty pleasure?”
Yes... The House on the Hill by Audience*
MSJ: What has been your biggest Spinal Tap moment?
Love Spinal Tap! This is a good one...and it really happened! 

When we were asked to be on CTTE (Cruise to the Edge last April 2014) I asked if I could take some of my paintings to sell on the cruise. Roger Dean (Yes album designs) was also going to be on the cruise showing his art, but of course much larger than mine and he had his own “quarters” on board to show and sell his work.

In order for me to take anything on board it had to be documented in detail. I was asked to measure all the boxes that the paintings would be in and to mark on the outside how many were in each one. There were four boxes altogether measuring about 2x3 foot each and with approx 95 paintings in total, mostly small 4x6 inches and 5x5 inches but some a little bigger. I carefully put all the details in an email and sent off to the appropriate guy in charge. Then about an hour later I got a frantic email from the promoter saying there was no way they could accommodate 95 paintings that were 4x6 and 5x5 feet in size! He said Roger had some large ones, and there simply was no room for any more large paintings! I was very upset, and obviously the email I had sent had not been read properly...I actually said in that email inches not feet! Of course, it was sorted out immediately, but, yes, I likened it to the Stonehenge incident in “Spinal Tap!” (laughter)

MSJ: If you could sit down to dinner with any three people, living or dead, for food and conversation, with whom would you be dining?
The Dalai Lama, Charles Dickens and David Michael Newman
MSJ: What would be on the menu?
Vegan Eastern and Western cuisine
MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2015  Volume 2 at
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