Deborah Conway is a Living Legend. That’s not just our opinion--last year the singer was inducted as Living Legend at the National Live Music Awards. In her acceptance speech she discussed the importance of live music, which stings a bit now after the events of 2020. ‘Ironic, isn’t it?’
Thankfully, Conway isn’t going to stop making music anytime soon despite live performances being on hold for the next little while. Having a studio set-up at home certainly helps, as does living with her long-term musical collaborator Willy Zieger.
‘Willy and I met in 1991: I needed a guitar player to tour with me for my debut album String of Pearls.’ He was recommended to Conway by a couple of friends, so she gave him a call. ‘I told him the dates and he said “Oh I can’t - I have a gig.” I’m offering him a year’s work and he’s saying he can’t do it because he’s got a gig?!”
Not to be deterred, Deborah called him back (‘I liked his integrity’) and offered to move the tour dates. The pair met in person and the rest, as they say, is history. ‘He came over and I opened the door and both of us took a little step back because… something happened. A little spark flew.’
Conway and Zieger produced their first album together in 1993, Bitch Epic, and have since released several albums and toured extensively, even starting their own independent label in 2004. Conway offers that the partnership works so well because the pair approach songwriting and performance from ‘very different places’ and they complement each other.
‘He’s a very trained musician, and I don’t read music - I’m more instinctive. That’s not to say he isn’t instinctive,’ Conway laughs. ‘It’s just that he knows what he’s doing and I don’t!’
She describes their latest work as less embellished than the previous offerings. ‘We’ve been going in a simpler direction, musically… the songs are getting less complex. As you get older you try to bring more simplicity to your work, and try to say things more directly.’
The pair are thrilled to be a part of the Victorian Seniors Festival and listeners can hear a program of songs recorded in isolation by Deborah Conway and Willy Zieger for Radio Reimagined.
Listen to Deborah Conway and Willy Zieger on the Victorian Seniors Festival radio Reimagined Music Features.