Yesterday music said goodbye to one of its most talented, authentic and beautiful souls… Diane Charlemagne.
Not just jungle, drum & bass, dubstep, house or any other genre she immersed herself in, but music. Since her early work as the singer of Manchester jazz-funk act 52nd Street in the early 80s, Diane has been a consistent voice amid music’s turbulent, ever-changing world; influencing, creating, celebrating and engaging with artists and listeners with every record she made.
These words aren’t particularly easy to write. Like all the artists who have paid tribute to her in their own personal and touching ways during the last 24 hours, I was lucky to have met her too. Echoing the sentiments of every tweet and post you read about her; Diane’s personality was as large and open and warm as her vocal style and lyrical ability. Whether you were a fellow musician or fan, she was the real deal who stopped and listened to you and was really interested in what you had to say.
No ego. No attitude. Just love for people and creating something. For many of us she was the first – and truest – voice of jungle thanks to her seminal work with 4Hero and Goldie, but her repertoire and accomplishments transcends one genre, artist or period in time.
She brought funk to pop music with Urban Cookie Collective in the early 90s, she fronted Moby’s live shows with raw soul power during the early 2000s, she added human emotion to progressive house with artists such as Rhythm Masters and Satoshi Tomiie and added vivacity to breakbeat working with acts such as Stanton Warriors, Aquasky and Santos.
Her voice was just as authentic and arresting wrapped around the music of soulful house artists like Joey Negro and Opolopo as it was over the beats of Taxman, Caspa, High Contrast, S.P.Y, Cyantific, Calibre, Netsky and many more. Constantly proving that boundaries are only self-imposed, Diane brought the principals of jazz to the forefront of electronic music and the cause, spirit and freedom of dance music to the world of jazz. In short she united musical universes in a way very few modern singers have.
Our thoughts are with her family and friends right now. The void she’s left in the lives of everyone she’s touched will never be filled. But the voice she left on hundreds of records will ensure she’s never ever forgotten. These songs below are just a small selection. Whether you know some of her records or many, please dig deeper than your usual genre tastes. Unearth as much of her work as possible, embrace it and pay respect in a way she would love: by enjoying the raw power of music and the endless joy of its new discoveries.
Diane Charlemagne: Rest in peace.
Dave Jenkins, Editor.