Renee Olstead - She's only 14!

2006-03-29 19:24

This year it's 14 year old Renee Olstead, the astoundingly young new star, whose self-produced debut EP so impressed producer David Foster (Celine Dion, Michael Buble, Josh Grobin) that he decided to work with her on this debut album.

And Renee's performance of the mix of romantic jazz standards and new jazzy pop tunes is impressive. Even at high volumes, or when pushed to the limits of her broad vocal range, the sweet purity and smoothness of her voice never fails. Unlike many pop would-be divas (take Celine Dion), Olstead's tone is powerful but never shrill. Unlike Mariah Carey, her style avoids over the top virtuosity. Her sense for the beat is almost percussive at times, her use of vibrato and other tricks never frilly.

And because the tracks are standards, they're so well worn and stylised by repetition that it hardly matters whether or not she's old and experienced enough to understand them properly (though who says a 14 year old can't fall in love and get hurt? You don't have to be over 18 to be foolish!) Olstead's making beautiful music full of exciting subtlety that will please both the jaded jazz fundi, and the people who buy anything they see advertised enough on TV.

And she's cute, too. The CD cover picture, which makes her look like a tranked up 40-year-old in too much makeup, is misleading. Elsewhere she does look her age. This is certainly not a bad thing for sales. Because let's face it, legal or not legal, young beauty sells and Renee is absolutely drop dead gorgeous. Her talent, her sure vocal touch and her beauty make for a killer combination.

So fame is a sure thing for now. But what about the future?

Like the countless "sensations" who offer a beautiful voice, stunning technique or a pretty face, Olstead still has to prove that she can define her own career. She must still fully reveal her own talent by making something new, doing what something nobody else can ever do quite like she can. Meaning? She needs to write her own really wonderful songs, like Norah Jones has, if she wants her popularity to outlast the novelty of her youth and her well managed start.

- Jean Barker


There's no disputing the sultry vocal talents showcased on this debut that balances familiar chestnuts from the great American songbook ("Summertime," "Someone to Watch Over Me," "Sentimental Journey") with more recent fare...
- Jerry McCulley for

Whilst she may be young the evidence on offer here was of a great voice, backed by a superb bustling band but more than anything a confident, sassy performer who may well follow in the footsteps of the greats...

The music is performed with all the panache, polish and personal flair one expects from Billie Holliday and Judy Garland, among many others.

PICTURES: Renee's online gallery: Click here

There's one every year - that vocalist with the astounding voice, produced by someone important, supported by a cast of solid existing stars. Perfect for that summer dinner party or that romantic restaurant, or even that tongue in cheek seduction.

desy wiggill 2004/09/14 10:01 AM
Renee Olstead Renee Olstead
Goda 2004/09/14 10:37 AM
Wow Desy, did that review take you a long time to write?
Lester 2004/09/14 2:27 PM
A very kiff CD I listen to this a lot. I'm not sure it's the best CD I own but its definitely the one in my CD player most often. Not clever music, just very good to have around. Anything by Bjork
claude 2004/09/14 6:31 PM
renee olstead I just happen to listen to the clips and wow! A CD to add to one's collection.
h.m.steyl 2004/09/14 6:45 PM
renee olstead How can we review the cd if we cannot listen to it.
winslo 2004/09/14 9:50 PM
brilliant stunning voice will get far in life keep up the good work.
lucill e 2004/09/14 9:53 PM
Jean 2004/09/17 11:47 AM
HML Steyl: you can listen to it, right here Look to the LEFT hand side of the page. There are clips in the Clips from the CD box - that bluish purple thing. You click them to listen to them. Then you can review the CD. If it's not working, you probably need to install a newer browser or download Windows Media Player - both are free at Gomez - split the difference
The King's kid 2004/09/21 10:00 PM
All songs are excellent She has some awesome God given talent and she has some good God given looks as well Yes
Greg 2004/10/09 10:33 AM
Brilliant Brilliant
Jose Fonseca 2004/10/09 8:36 PM
Gorgeous I think this girl has a lot of potential. She has a wonderful producer and I have no doubt in my mind she will break through. This CD is absolutely gorgeous. This is a CD I would recommend to any jazz lover.
JJ 2004/10/11 8:27 PM
The Album is great I will put this next to my Diana Krall CD - a wonderful voice mature way beyond her years (especially for 14 years old). The selection of songs is also excellent. Definitely Yes
jkoos 2004/10/12 9:27 PM
mr aa ssde gtfrbv nhufrddnh
Janetta Toerien 2004/10/18 11:35 PM
Reneé Olstead Superb. She has that something that can enthrall people for many years to come. Reneé Olstead
willem 2005/01/28 2:02 PM
mr good
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