Born in Guildford, UK, Anita moved to Australia with her family as a child. Anita’s formative years were spent soaking up the Rodgers and Hammerstein and Cole Porter classics. She also explored her father’s collection of big band albums by Duke Ellington, Count Basie and many more.
During her teens, she started to get to grips with the complexities of modern Jazz when she discovered Clifford Brown, Cannonball Adderley, Miles Davis and Charlie Parker. At the same time she learned her vocal craft from greats like Ella Fitzgerald, Mark Murphy, Carmen McRae, Betty Carter, Jon Hendricks and Eddie Jefferson.
After attending secondary School she completed her degree in Music at the Adelaide University. In 1990, Anita relocated back to the UK where she studied at the Guildhall school of music and drama.
Anita’s recording career began in 1995 with her CD,Why do you Cry? featuring pianist Liam Noble.
In 1998 she released Straight Ahead with international star pianist Jason Rebello. Japan’s most popular jazz publication, Swing Journal, gave its endorsement, writing, “she’s the real thing who can fluently scat and vocalese!”
Her longstanding musical relationship with pianist Robin Aspland started with the release of Until The Stars Fade in 2001 also featuring the exciting US drummer Gene Calderazzo and Jeremy Brown on bass. Jazzwise Magazine called her “energetic and inventive” while The Guardian proclaimed her “a model of the Jazz singer’s art”, highlighting her clarity, improvisational skills and emotional resonance.
In 2004 she teamed up with tenor saxophonist, Benn Clatworthy, and recorded If You Never Come to Me.
Anita received the prestigious BBC Jazz Award for Best of Jazz category in 2006. In the same year she was signed to Proper Records and recorded Noted (2006) and Kinda Blue (2008).
Her latest album, The Road, was released in summer 2013. In the same year she won the Best Vocalist category iun the British Jazz Awards and in 2014 Anita was nominated in the 2014 British Jazz awards.
Over the past four years, Anita has travelled extensively, performing and leading jazz vocal masterclasses in USA, Europe and Australia.
Praise for Anita
“Australian newcomer Anita Wardell made a good impression…Her pitch and timing are reliable and she scat sings in an unselfconscious, musicianly way…”
Review of Ronnie Scott’s appearance, Jack Massarik, Evening Standard, April 15, 1999
“Wardell has her own sort of impish, even puckish, scat that trills away over her whole range like a carefully conceived instrumental solo, and I found it enchanting…She stunned the audience into spellbound silence…”
Concert review Pizza on the Park, London, Simon Becker, Boz Magazine
“Who but Anita Wardell would deserve an instrumental opening to warm up the atmosphere? A very special way to welcome the Australian singer to Lescar… With a voice full of warmth she wove her way through bebops, ballads, and bossanova, not missing an opportunity to share her radiant pleasure with the audience…”
Review of concert at the Lescar Hotel, Herve Perez , Sheffield Times
“…Anita made her debut at the Fairway where jazz fans described her as ‘the genuine article’…”
Welwyn and Hatfield Times, August 1998
“Anita Wardell…is currently one of the most exciting and original exponents of the art of vocal improvisation.”
Martin Lilleker , Sheffield Telegraph, January 24, 1997
“For many, the most creative jazz singer operating in London, this sweet toned Australian chooses superior songs and can improvise with the best.”
Jack Massarik, Hot Tickets Magazine, Evening Standard, January 1999
“A sensitive singer who likes to scat as well as invest in the lyric and melody. Her approach is clear in the title of her album, ‘Straight Ahead’. She’s recently been a big hit in a season at Ronnie Scott’s London.”
Edinburgh Festival Magazine, 1999
“Pure bebop singing, displaying a musical mastery…”
Peter Hepple, Stage and Television Today