"...she sings with a soaring glory", said Simon Wilson of Coco Davis in Metro Magazine. His words are no understatement. The powerhouse vocalist’s craft breathes new life into the iconic forms of early female blues songs.
Born in Berkeley CA, Coco (Colleen) Davis has long had an affinity for jazz and blues music, frequenting historic venues and San Francisco record stores (Amoeba, Rasputin) searching for vintage recordings of female blues singers. A move to New Zealand saw Davis and her musical collaborator/producer Tom Rodwell (Storehouse; Don McGlashan) bond through shared love of country blues characters like Skip James, Mississippi Fred McDowell, and Blind Willie Johnson.
A true balladeer, Davis takes pride and passion in bringing these female blues songs to a new generation. Shorn of the musical clichés that beset the blues genre Coco Davis’s debut LP Old Haunts (Fireplace, 2016) subtly dismantles and rearranges a collection of early “revenge blues” songs into a contemporary travelogue of witty and ghoulish tales. “Old Haunts is smart, spooky, funny, and at times, funky as anything”, said Nick Bollinger on Radio New Zealand.
With a flair for cinematic design and the spatial potentialities of performance, Coco Davis explores the nexus of music and theatre in the vein of Tom Waits and Ute Lemper. “The songs in Old Haunts are like a room I enter, or a dress I put on”, Coco says. “In blues music the woman's voice is allowed to violent, angry, loving, funny and transgressive.”
An accomplished live performer, Davis has won crowds at festivals around New Zealand and beyond (Hongerige Wolf [Holland], Ealing Rhythm and Blues Festival [London], Splore, Auckland Arts Festival and more). 2016 sees Davis going full throttle, touring Old Haunts and appearing at the Auckland Arts Festival Show Dust to Dusky in March singing Dusty Springfield songs as arranged by Steph Brown (Lips), and directed by Shane Bosher.
Widely acclaimed in NZ theatre circles; she’s loaned her talents to numerous Auckland Theatre Company shows (Jesus Christ Superstar, Cabaret, Chicago, Little Shop of Horrors), while her own production of Sam Shepard’s surrealist cowboy operetta The Sad Lament of Pecos Bill has appeared widely on the arts festival circuit. Coco Davis is also soon to tour in New Zealand, Australia and the UK with the highly lauded sell-out contemporary musical Daffodils, and is featured on the recently released Daffodils EP.