For Brisbane-based singer Pete Vance, music has always been a part of his life but it wasn't until he retired that it became more than a hobby.
An agricultural scientist by trade, these days you're more likely to find Pete behind a microphone in a jazz bar than behind a microscope in a lab. “I say to people, at my age it keeps me on the streets,” Pete laughs.
Raised in a musical family, Pete's life-long vocal passion has taken him to stages around the world including Wataboshi Festival in Japan where he performed his original composition, 'Welcome To My Day'. “When we walked out on stage they applauded and at the end of the song the crowd went really wild,” Pete recalls.
“I said to my manager that they must have loved that song and he said 'it wasn't too bad but the real reason they applauded loudly was they thought you were Kenny Rogers',” he laughs. “Back in those days my hair was a bit longer and my beard a bit more feral.”
A singer of many styles, Pete became enamoured with jazz under the tutelage of Brisbane jazz singer Ingrid James. “I got more seriously into jazz around 2008 when Ingrid James started the Jazz Singers Jam night and I used to tag along,” he says.
“Basically I was singing pop, folk, soul and R&B but never seriously jazz, so by connecting with her, the work that was going on there and singing with live musicians, she became my mentor and coach.”
Pete takes the stage at The Lounge in Nundah at the end of July alongside Joe Howman and his Art Deco Dance Orchestra for a retrospective evening of classic soul and jazz. “It will be a fabulous night,” he says.
“I've worked with Joe Howman and members of the band really just this year and I've done a few guest spots with them now over the months. I'm looking forward to singing with Joe and the Art Deco Dance Orchestra, and The Lounge is fabulous.
“The show is called 'From Soul To Nat King Cole', so we're touching on that lovely Motown, '60s-'70s era then right through to the gentler ballads of Nat King Cole. I guess we're saying to the audience 'come alive and jive with Pete Vance and the Art Deco Dance Orchestra'.”
From the humble strains of Cole's 'Nature Boy' to the rollicking chorus of 'Sweet Home Chicago', Pete delivers performances with grace and compassion that rival even the longest-serving entertainer.
“Whatever I sing, whether it be a slow ballad or it be an uptempo song, people always say it's quite soulful and that's the nature of how I grew up during that period,” he says.
“What jazz teaches you to do is that you're not just there singing, you're telling the story... When you tell the story you're part of the song, part of the band, part of the show; you give it your all and it seems to work.”