Singer Lynne Fiddmont has spent virtually her entire career supporting others. An in-demand backing vocalist, she has worked with such artists as Patti Austin, Stevie Wonder, Lou Rawls, Phil Collins, Yolanda Adams and her mentor, the late great Carl Anderson. As busy as she was in the background for others, she never quite got around to moving to the front. With the release of Flow, on her own MidLife Records, Fiddmont made the plunge, writing, co-producing and singing a tasty 9-song collection of jazz-tinged adult soul songs. Urban Adult Contemporary radio was rife twenty years ago with talented female singers such as Angela Bofill. Anita Baker and Phyllis Hyman, who were releasing melodic, accessible music that spoke to grown ups. But 2006 is a different era, and a somewhat traditional female adult soul disc like Flow now sounds refreshingly offbeat.
Raised in St. Louis, Missouri, Fiddmont got the singing bug while a teenager, and was soon singing in local coffee houses. A tape of her voice sent to the Crusaders' Wilton Felder landed for her a spot touring with that group, with Lynne handling lead vocals on such songs as "Street Life." She then briefly attended Boston's prestigious Berklee School of Music before moving to Los Angeles to further her musical life.
In 1985, Fiddmont began her recording career provided backing vocals on Bill Withers' underrated coda, "Watching You, Watching Me," and followed with a twenty year career as one of the most active backing singers in the country, most notably as part of Stevie Wonder's Wonderlove. Her notoriety among music industry veterans led to great support for the notion of her putting together Flow, which was released in May, 2006.
Much attention for Flow was placed on the disc's two singles, the beautiful ballad "U R Loved" and the infectiously smooth love song, "Cupid," but the album was full of other great tracks like "Something I Can Feel," "Never Really" and the title cut. The fact is, Flow is a joy from front to back, a happy reminder of the short period in the 80s when talented, jazz and soul influenced female singers dominated the airwaves. Fiddmont's thoughtful song selection and restrained production make for wonderful late night listening, and transform this disc from simply a nice listen to a real gem.
It took four years after Flow for Lynne's fans to get another taste, but it finally came in 2010 with Lady, her creative tribute to Billie Holiday. It again showed her to be masterful at blending the classic and the contemporary, with her interesting, fresh takes on some of jazz's most recorded tunes.
By Chris Rizik