Years Performed: 2014
Helen Welch is a critically-acclaimed vocalist whose live stage performances explore a diverse range of musical compositions, starting with the 1930s up through present-day. Whether she’s singing Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee and Sarah Vaughan, or Elton John, Sting and Randy Newman, Helen’s sophisticated vocals and humor leave audiences breezily enchanted. The “Helen Welch experience” is perhaps best described by a fan who wrote on her Amazon page, “If you have a chance to see Helen perform, do it! You are in for a special treat.”
A native of England, Helen is well-known throughout the United Kingdom for her musical theatre roles and 1-woman shows. Upon moving to the U.S. in 2003, she began appearing in venues throughout the Northeast. Her unique talents for choosing songs that stand the test of time and making them her own, and her ability to intimately engage her audience, quickly earned her a large and devoted following.
Helen is equally at home performing in intimate spaces for small groups as in outdoor amphitheaters in front of thousands. She appears in the region’s most celebrated entertainment establishments including Severance Hall, Cleveland's Playhouse Square Center, Akron Civic Theatre, Blossom Music Center, the Chautauqua Institute and many more. She frequently guest-stars or headlines with world-class musical organizations such as The Cleveland Orchestra, The Columbus Symphony Orchestra, The Cleveland Pops Orchestra and The Akron Symphony to name just a few.
Helen’s stage career got off to fast-start. She landed starring roles in a string of popular musicals including Hello Dolly, Barnum, 42nd Street, Oliver Twist, Calamity Jane, Show Boat, and Carousel. She also made her pantomime debut as ‘Maid Marion’ in Robin Hood, a traditional English Christmas show. (Renowned English actor and a former “Dr. Who”, Colin Baker, played Helen’s wicked uncle.)
A short time after meeting her late song-writing partner Tim Freebairn, Helen decided on a whim to enter a singing competition--- the grand prize of which was a role in the smash-hit Lieber and Stoller musical Smokey Joe’s Café on Broadway. Eight-hundred girls vied for the opportunity, but it was Helen who most impressed the judges and won. She rehearsed briefly with the London cast before jetting to New York to join the Broadway production. A BBC camera crew accompanied Helen and captured the entire experience on film, which was made into a television documentary for the BBC.
After Helen’s Broadway contract ended, she was presented with a number of opportunities, one of which was to work with some of the UK’s finest big bands including Opus One, Glen Miller Europe and the BBC Big Band. Unable to bypass this invaluable experience, she moved to London, and soon performed regularly in some of the West End’s most popular performance spaces, including The Savoy, The Ritz and The Grosvenor House Great Room.
Helen also became a regular in London’s major recording studios. Her voice can be heard in many commercial jingles, films and television productions, and also the background on recordings of well-known international artists. She was tapped to record a ‘house’ track for the German pop market. When the producers of the James Bond movie franchise were exploring a new theme song, they asked Helen to record the demo.
Helen was thrilled and honored when the directors of the National Youth Jazz Orchestra (NYJO) asked her to work with its student members, who are considered to be the cream of Britain’s upcoming musical crop. At one point, the NYJO was scheduled to perform with Cleo Laine and Johnny Dankworth at London’s prestigious Royal Albert Hall. During rehearsal, Dankworth.
In addition to being a consummate stage performer, Helen Welch is also president of Big Wow Productions. The company has developed a diverse selection of shows from the hugely popular ‘Bring in the Divas!’ celebrating the music of the First Ladies of Song to ‘All You Need is Love’ in which Helen has taken many great Beatles songs and made them her own.
As a gesture of gratitude for the overwhelming reception she has received in her new home, Helen became a United States citizen in June of 2009 and followed this by singing the National Anthem at the Cleveland Indians baseball field; ‘a moment I shall never forget’ she smiles.