Mary Schneider began her career in 1945, as half of the country music duo The Schneider Sisters, with her sister Rita. Over the years, a slight detour into jazz led her to belting out notes that combined scat singing with the art of yodelling.
Schneider’s new album Yodelling the Big Bands, out October 27, follows the success of her previous Yodelling the Classics albums and marries a dazzling selection of songs which celebrate the Big Band swing era.
“I had a lot of success with Yodelling the Classics I and II, with the help of my sister Rita who was a great songwriter — we wrote together a lot. So we thought up the idea of Yodelling the Big Bands with those beautiful songs from the ‘40s swing era,” says Schneider.
The Schneider Sisters recorded the first Australian rock ‘n’ roll original tune with ‘Washboard Rock’n’Roll’
From an early age, Schneider loved jazz, growing up with plenty of the rhythmic blues and swing in her home.
“When I was six years old, I listened to the radio and heard some country songs with yodelling,” Schneider reminisces. “At the end of each song I thought, ‘I can do that’, so I started practising while I was sitting up in the mango tree in our backyard and gradually got better at it.”
A master of the classic Swiss Alpine style, the Australian-born yodeller, took on a new musical genre of ‘scat-yodelling’, infused on her new album.
Her recently released single from the album, ‘La Cinquantaine (aka Golden Wedding)’, is a Big Band yodelling arrangement of the late 19th century French tune. Other classics on the record include ‘In the Mood’, ‘Jersey Bounce’, ‘Cuttin’ Capers’, ‘Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy (aka Boogie Woogie Yodeller)’, and a Christmas rendition, ‘Yodelling Jingle Bells’.
Schneider says her favourites would have to be ‘Golden Wedding’ and ‘Yodelling Swing’. “They are typical 40s songs which never die… [they’re] a medley of many well-known Big Band songs.”
You may recognise some of her yodelling tracks as they appear in a number of TV, animation, and film productions including Sex and the City, Malcolm in the Middle, and most recently, the adorable ad for NAB Auskick.
During a guest appearance on US radio’s The Howard Stern Show, back in 1998, Schneider was described as ‘The Ella Fitzgerald of Yodelling’ which still rings true today.
Looking back at her successful career, what has been a highlight for the yodelling, scat-singing queen? “I've had so many highlights and I consider myself very lucky for that. I've performed all around the world but one highlight was singing at the Berlin Opera House for the Deutscher Academy Awards.”
Celebrating her 85th birthday on October 25, Schneider says a life lesson she wishes everyone knew is to “live for today”.
“Try not to dwell on the past. Enjoy every moment. I do try to remind myself of that. Also, persistence … nothing can take the place of persistence if you want to succeed,” she says.
“There are a few other [artists] who record later in their lives, why not?” she adds. “I love music and I love to sing no matter at what age. It's just a number!”
“If I want to record, am I supposed to stop because of age? As long as it's good, it doesn't matter when. Think of Tony Bennett!” Schneider exclaims.
Following the release of her new album, Schneider will also be singing alongside her daughter at her upcoming shows.
“It's wonderful! I love to sing with Melinda and have done for many years now. I'm very proud of her and love the opportunity to sing with her any time.”
Are you a fan of yodelling and jazz?
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Image credit: maryschneider.com.au