Newspaper article The Northern Star (Lismore, Australia)

From World Stage to South; Gundurimba

Newspaper article The Northern Star (Lismore, Australia)

From World Stage to South; Gundurimba

Article excerpt

LEGENDARY pianist Winifred Atwell's career peaked during the 1950s, with her concerts drawing standing room only crowds in Europe and Australia.

Known as the a[approximately]Queen of the Ivories', Atwell played three Royal Variety Performances and famously performed at a private party for Queen Elizabeth II, where she was called back for an encore by the monarch herself who requested, Roll Out The Barrel.

Atwell went on to become afavourite television performer and even had her own series in Britain, and later in Australia. Atwell's brilliant career earned her a fortune and international acclaim.

So how did this famous and accomplished performer come to choose the Northern Rivers Memorial Park, previously known as the South Gundurimba Cemetery, near Lismore, as her final resting place? It's not entirely clear, but enough is known about this a[approximately]devoutly private person' to know that her reasons wereromantic.

Atwell was born in Trinidad in 1914 and was trained as a classical pianist before moving to England in 1946 so she could train at London's Royal Academy of Music. That same year, Atwell met the love of her life, former stage comedian Lew Levisohn, and soon after they married. Atwell began spending her nights playing in local jazz clubs and her fame quickly grew as a ragtime pianist, culminating in 1951 with a recording contract with DECCA records. Atwell became the first black, million-sellingrecording artist in Britain, with her husband credited for successfully shaping her career.

In 1955, Atwell visited Australia and was greeted as an international celebrity with her tours breaking all records. With the rise of rock and roll taking a toll on her career in the UK, and her enormous popularity here in Australia, Atwell and her husband decided to settle in Sydney in the 1970s and revive her car-eer as a classical pianist. …

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