Brenda gregory squared for mocm

Gregory, Brenda (Brenda Rowlandson)

Websites:  No
Origin: Sydney, Australia - Toronto, Ontario, 🇨🇦 - Coonabarabran, NSW, Australia

Dec 8, 2023:
Hello Brenda,
It is great to hear from you! I have always like that song. And absolutely yes i want to hear more about this record! whatever you can think of. were these your 1st recordings? Were they your last? Where were you born? Where did you live while in Canada? When did you had back to Australia? Why did you come to Canada? When you say written for you by Al Rain could you elaborate? What is your version of 'Simple Song of Freedom' all about? Thanks Brenda!

Hi Robert,

Sadly, no photo of me and Al Rain. I googled him today to discover he'd died in November this year, so I just missed him. He was 84.

The only photos of me that I have from that time are these black & white proofs which were going to be the cover of the album I was laying down which was never completed.

Feel free to use them if they’re appropriate for your site, just as they appear here.

My producer Art Snider (the owner of Sound Canada, where the songs were recorded) and also leader of the band I sang with for a couple of years, asked Al to write a song for me without him even meeting me! A strange arrangement really. Art must have played him a track or two from some of the songs we laid down for a prospective album, or else I’m sure Al wouldn’t have agreed. He was a prolific and highly regarded songwriter in the 60’s and 70’s. I don’t think I ever knew whether Al was happy with the finished product (Alone Together).

In Australia (born here) I had always wanted to sing, and was invited to sing with a jazz band in Sydney, but my snobby husband objected to me “using the family name”! Ugh! I was very disappointed. Husband was transferred (for work) to Toronto in 1970 and of course I had to go with him. As I began to find my freedom, I decided that marriage wasn’t for me and a year later, we split up. I decided that this would be my chance and found a singing teacher in Art Snider, and after a short time he invited me to sing with his band — you know … weddings, parties, events etc. Husband went back to Australia after his 2 year stint in Toronto, and in 1978 I married a Canadian man and stayed in Canada for another 19 years, until we split up too.

I lived in Toronto the whole time. Moving back to Australia in 1992 was an impulsive and reactive decision to my second marriage breakdown. I regret it now. Australia is so far away from anywhere I want to be!

"Simple Song of Freedom" was a protest song written by Bobby Darin about the Vietnam war, which was raging at the time. It was originally sung as a folk song, but Art Snider gave it some grit with the arrangement that I sang. I didn’t feel comfortable with it at all, as I felt I was really a jazz singer (first love) but to my ear now, it doesn’t sound too bad. And it is certainly applicable to current time.

Bobby Darin’s version:

And this is Della Reese’s version:

And just by the way, speaking of Della Reese, her manager/producer, Lee Magid, was talent scouting in Toronto in 1972 and heard Alone Together and Simple Song, and on the strength of those two songs, he asked me to go to L.A. to be be part of his stable of singers. I was young and scared to make that move, so I said no. By that time I had met a film director and he drew me into the film business for the next 5 years. Sliding doors of life hey?

So that’s the story.

I have no idea how much air time it got. I only heard it on radio once. It’s so great to be able to share the link to your website with my friend!

Thanks for your interest Robert.

Feel free to ask anything else.




Brenda gregory long shot

There’s a Red Rocket c. 1971 in the background of the long shot which testifies to the “Canadiana” category! I think it was taken at St Clair and Yonge.

Brenda gregory squared for mocm

Gregory, Brenda (Brenda Rowlandson)


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