Venetta Fields

Last updated
Venetta Fields
Birth nameVenetta Lee Fields
Also known asVanetta Fields
Born1941 (age 7980)
Buffalo, New York, U.S.
GenresR&B, pop, rock
  • Singer
  • musical theater actress
  • vocal coach
Years active1961–present
  • Sony
  • Grit
  • Drumlake Pty. Ltd.
Associated acts

Venetta Lee Fields (born 1941) is an American-born singer, musical theater actress and vocal coach. She was a backing vocalist for American and British rock and pop acts of the 1960s and 1970s, including Ike & Tina Turner, Pink Floyd, Humble Pie, Barbra Streisand, Elkie Brooks, Neil Diamond, Steely Dan, and the Rolling Stones. Having emigrated to Australia in 1982 she took dual Australian-American citizenship. She recorded or toured as a backing singer for Australian artists, Richard Clapton, Australian Crawl, Cold Chisel, Jimmy Barnes, James Morrison and John Farnham.


Life and career

Early life

Fields was born in Buffalo, New York in 1941, into a religious family. Her early musical training was from regular gospel performances at church. [1] Her inspiration was Aretha Franklin. Fields singing career began with the Templaires, a group she formed with members of her church, followed by the Corinthian Gospel Singers. [1]

Early career

In late 1961, the Ike & Tina Turner Revue were playing in Buffalo. Fields successfully auditioned as a new member of Ike & Tina Turner's backing vocalists, joining the Ikettes. [1] The revue toured the Chitlin' Circuit and performed at prominent theaters in major cities across the United States. In between gigs Ike Turner produced artists in the revue. Fields released her debut single "You're Still My Baby"/ "I'm Leaving You" on Turner's Sony Records label in 1963. [2] Fields was given a solo to perform during shows, such as "The Love of My Man" on the album Ike & Tina Turner Revue Live (1964), "I Know (You Don't Love Me No More)," and "Good Time Tonight" on Live! The Ike & Tina Turner Show (1965). [3] [4]

In 1965, the Ikettes released the Top 40 hit "Peaches 'N' Cream" (Pop #36, R&B #28) and "I'm So Thankful" (Pop #74, R&B #12) on Modern Records. [5] By late 1965, Fields left the revue along with fellow Ikettes Jessie Smith and Robbie Montgomery. [3] Fields later recalled "I was an Ikette for five years. It was a rough job, but it was a very good experience. It's just like a school. You go from grade 1 to 2, not from 1 to 8. And when you graduate you have to leave. There is such a thing as staying too long; when you start getting stagnant and stifled by what you're doing. We almost stayed too long." [1]

In 1966, the trio signed to Mirwood Records and became the Mirettes. [3] They left Mirwood and released their highest charting single "In the Midnight Hour" (Pop #45, R&B #18) on Revue Records in 1968. [6] By 1970, Fields had left the group and was replaced by former Ikette Pat Powdrill.

Session vocalist

Fields worked as a session vocalist from about 1969, often with Clydie King and Sherlie Matthews, for Quincy Jones, Paul Butterfield, Tim Buckley, Steely Dan, Joe Walsh, Joe Cocker, Elkie Brooks, Neil Diamond, Leonard Cohen, Bob Seger, Burt Bacharach and Burton Cummings. [7] Others: Diana Ross, Bette Midler, Bob Dylan, the Supremes, and for Aretha Franklin – her mentor and inspiration. Notable performances during this time included Wish You Were Here (September 1975) with Pink Floyd, and recording the Rolling Stones' album Exile on Main St. (May 1972). [7] Fields later reflected on her sessions for the latter album, they were at midnight but she wanted money for clothing, "I was more interested in the coat than I was in the Rolling Stones". [8] With King, she sang on four tracks, "Tumbling Dice", "I Just Want to See His Face", "Let It Loose" and "Shine a Light", which she felt "were wonderful songs and they were just right for us... We knew gospel. That's what most people wanted from us, a gospel sound." [8]

Around 1971, Fields, King, and Matthews formed the Blackberries, with Matthews as producer and songwriter as well as vocalist. When backing Ray Charles, the trio worked as the Raelettes. In 1972 Steve Marriott asked them to record and tour with his band, Humble Pie, and produced an unreleased Blackberries LP with Humble Pie as the backing band – they parted company in 1973. Michael Little of Vinyl District reviewed Eat It (April 1973), which showed Humble Pie "at its most eclectic. Each of its four sides emphasized a different aspect of the band, and the concept works." [9] He described the track, "Get Down to It", which "makes maximum use of the band’s backing singers" including "the immortal" Fields. [9] Fields and King acted as Barbra Streisand's backing singers (The Oreos) in the 1976 musical film, A Star Is Born (December 1976), and sang on its associated film soundtrack (November 1976). [7] Fields had previously sung on two of Streisand's albums from 1971. [7]

Career in Australia

As a member of Boz Scaggs backing band, Fields toured Australia in 1978 and 1980. While in the country in the latter year she contributed backing vocals to Marc Hunter's (ex-Dragon) solo album, Big City Talk. [10] Back in the US she provided backing vocals for So Lucky (December 1981), by Renée Geyer – the Australian artist was then working in California. [11] Fields decided to relocate permanently to Australia in 1982, "I had all that experience and a good reputation but I felt like I was stuck in a stereotyped box... I needed to do something else and I had to get away to somewhere where I could start again." [8]

Fields continued to work with US artists when they toured her adopted country until 2000, including George Benson, Dionne Warwick, Streisand, Thelma Houston, and Randy Crawford. She also recorded or toured as a backing singer with Australian artists, Richard Clapton (1983–84), Jimmy Barnes, Australian Crawl, Cold Chisel, James Morrison, Mark Gillespie (Australian singer), and as a long-term touring and session harmony vocalist for John Farnham (1986–95). [12] Neil Lade of The Canberra Times reviewed Clapton's album, Solidarity (September 1984), and described its final track, "New World", as "slow and softly lulling. A song of peace and hope... and Clapton's voice is at its tuneful best. And the backing vocals of Vanetta [sic] Fields add a powerful and echoing dimension to what may be just the album's finest song." [13]

In the mid-1980s in Melbourne, Fields formed a new group, Venetta's Taxi, with a line-up including vocalist Sherlie Matthews, guitarist Michael den Elzen, and Chong Lim on keyboards, while also performing regularly as a backing vocalist for local and touring artists. During this period Fields coached singing, including Karen Knowles and Colette Mann, at Tony Bartuccio's Dance Academy in Prahran. She took vocal workshops at the Victorian College of the Arts.

Fields and Farnham were both guest vocalists with The Incredible Penguins in late 1985, for a cover of "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)", a charity project for research on little penguins, which peaked at No. 10 on the Australian Kent Music Report in December. [14] [15] Fields starting work for Farnham on his Jack's Back Tour in support of his album, Whispering Jack (October 1986). [16] Debbie Kruger of Variety magazine caught the show at the State Theater in March 1987, "Midway through the show, Farnham left the stage, and backing Singer Venetta Fields sang three songs which kept the audience warm but eager for more of their hero." [16]

Musical theatre

In January 1989 Fields made her musical theater debut as Alice in the Australian production of Big River: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn at Her Majesty's Theatre, Sydney. [17] She followed with other stage appearances including two plays for the Melbourne Theatre CompanyRacing Demon (April 1991) and The Crucible (May 1991) [17] Blues in the Night (August, October 1992), [17] Chess (concert version), and as Ruby in the Buddy Holly show Buddy the Musical. In 1986 she formed and toured her own show, Gospel Jubilee; the line-up of the band of the same name was Joanne Campbell, Joe Creighton, Chong Lim, Sherlie Mathews and Fellon Williams. [12]

Later years

Fields has lived on the Gold Coast since 2000 and no longer tours or records with visiting artists. [8] She released her solo album At Last in 2005. [18]

Fields is active as a vocal coach with several students including 2005 Australian Idol winner Kate DeAraugo, singer-songwriter Cody Simpson, and 2011 Australia's Got Talent , finalist Bree De Rome. [8]


In 2002, Fields received the Australian Gospel Singer of the Year award. [1]

In recognition of her achievements, Fields was inducted into the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame on September 29, 2005. [1]

Selected discography



  • 1968: In The Midnight Hour (Revue Records)
  • 1969: Whirlpool (Uni Records)
  • 1992: Fine Fine Fine (Kent Records)
  • 2007: Can't Sit Down... 'Cos It Feels So Good: The Complete Modern Recordings (Kent Records)
  • 2012: Ike Turner Studio Productions New Orleans And Los Angeles 1963-1965 ( Ace Records)

Backing vocal credits

Credits at AllMusic [7]

Related Research Articles

Jimmy Thomas is an American soul singer and songwriter who served as a vocalist for Ike Turner. He joined Turner's Kings of Rhythm in 1958, and remained with the band when the Ike & Tina Turner Revue was formed in 1960. During that eight years he spent with Turner, Thomas released solo singles on Sue, Sputnik, and Sonja Records. After his departure from Turner, Thomas continued recording as a solo artist, eventually relocating to London. He formed his own label, Osceola Records, in 1979.

P. P. Arnold

Patricia Ann Cole, known professionally as P. P. Arnold, is an American soul singer who enjoyed considerable success in the United Kingdom from the 1960s onwards.

<i>Eat It</i> (album) album by Humble Pie

Eat It is the sixth album by English rock group Humble Pie, released in 1973. A double album, it reached number 13 on the Billboard 200, number 34 in the UK Albums Chart and number 41 in Australia and number 9 in Australia.

Irwin Thomas is an American-born Australian singer-songwriter and guitarist. He performed professionally using the stage name Jack Jones from when he was the lead vocalist-guitarist in the band Southern Sons (1990–1996).

Sherlie Matthews is an American singer, songwriter and record producer, best known as a backing vocalist for pop, R&B and rock groups from the mid-1960s to the present time.

Claudia Lennear is an American soul singer and educator. Lennear began her performing with the Superbs before becoming an Ikette in the Ike & Tina Turner Revue. She was also a background vocalist for various acts, including Joe Cocker, Leon Russell, and Freddie King. She released her only solo album in 1973. Lennear was featured in the 2013 Oscar-winning documentary 20 Feet from Stardom. She was inducted in the Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame in 2019.

Lisa Anne Edwards is an Australian solo and session singer and musician. In July 1992 she had a top 5 hit on the ARIA Singles Chart with her cover version of Godley and Creme's "Cry". Edwards is primarily a backing vocalist and has worked for fellow Australian and international artists, including John Farnham and Kylie Minogue. She also provided vocals on Real Life's "Send Me an Angel" and Olivia Newton-John's "Stronger Than Before". As a solo artist, Edwards has issued two studio albums, Thru the Hoop (1993) and State of the Heart (2005).

The Ikettes

The Ikettes were a trio of female backing vocalists for the Ike & Tina Turner Revue. Despite their origins, the Ikettes became successful artists in their own right. In the 1960s they had hits such as "I'm Blue " and "Peaches 'N' Cream." In 2017, Billboard ranked "I'm Blue " No. 63 on its list of 100 Greatest Girl Group Songs of All Time.

Robbie Montgomery is an American soul singer and restaurateur. She is noted for being one of the original Ikettes in the Ike & Tina Turner Revue in the 1960s. After her tenure as an Ikette, she was a member of the Mirettes, and then became a "Night Tripper" for Dr. John. In the 1970s, Montgomery was a backing vocalist for acts such as Stevie Wonder, Barbra Streisand, the Rolling Stones, and Joe Cocker. She later created the Sweetie Pie's franchise, and starred in the award-winning reality series Welcome to Sweetie Pie's.

<i>In Person</i> (Ike & Tina Turner album) 1969 live album by Ike & Tina Turner and The Ikettes

In Person is a live album by the R&B duo Ike & Tina Turner and their backing vocalists the Ikettes. It was released on Minit Records in 1969.

<i>Ike & Tina Turner Revue Live</i> 1964 live album by Ike & Tina Turner

Ike & Tina Turner Revue Live is the first live album by R&B duo Ike & Tina Turner released on Kent Records in 1964.

<i>Soul the Hits</i> 1966 studio album by The Ikettes

Soul The Hits is the debut album by American girl group the Ikettes, released on Modern Records in 1966.

Esther Jones (singer)

Esther Jones was an American soul singer and choreographer, best known as the "longest-lasting Ikette" in the Ike & Tina Turner Revue. In the 1980s, she was the lead vocalist in the band Formula 5.

Pat Powdrill was an American soul singer and songwriter. Powdrill was best known for being a member of the Ikettes in the 1960s. She began her career as a solo artist recording for Reprise Records and Downey Records. She later performed as backing vocalist for various artists.

The Mirettes were a female vocal trio composed of former members of the Ikettes in the Ike & Tina Turner Revue.

Carlena Williams was an American vocalist. Early in her career, she recorded under her name, Flora Williams, as an Ikette in the Ike & Tina Turner Revue. In the 1960s she released a few singles as Carlena Weaver. She later toured with rock group Pink Floyd as a backing vocalist. Williams sang with various artists, including The Carpenters, Bonnie Raitt, Van Morrison, Etta James, and Humble Pie. Williams was a member of Sunshine, Donna Summer's backing vocal group in the 1970s.

Jessie Smith (singer) American R&B vocalist

Jessie Smith was an American R&B vocalist. She began her career singing with musician Benny Sharp, recording as Little Miss Jessie. Smith was best known as one of the original Ikettes in the Ike & Tina Turner Revue. She later sang backing vocals for various artists, including Dr. John, Paul Williams, Al Kooper, José Feliciano, and Leon Ware.

The Blackberries were a female vocal trio composed of experienced backing vocalists. They backed various artists, including Pacific Gas & Electric, Humble Pie, Ringo Starr, and Pink Floyd. The Blackberries recorded for Motown's West Coast subsidiary, Mowest and A&M Records.

Alline Bullock was an American songwriter and the older sister of singer Tina Turner. Bullock was the one-time manager of the girl group the Ikettes. She wrote songs for Ike & Tina Turner as well as their band the Kings of Rhythm, most notably "Funkier Than a Mosquita's Tweeter" which was covered by Nina Simone.

Edna Woods, also known as LeJeune Richardson, is an American singer, dancer and actress. She was an Ikette in the Ike & Tina Turner Revue in the 1960s and 1970s, and later a dancer for Tina Turner in the 1980s and 1990s. Richardson was a backing vocalist for Gayle McCormick and John Mayall. She was also a member of the vocal group Silver, Platinum & Gold.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "Venetta Fields BMHOF Class of 2005". Buffalo Music Hall of Fame. 2005. Retrieved 7 June 2016.
  2. "Singles Reviews: Three-Star Singles" (PDF). Billboard: 40. May 4, 1963.
  3. 1 2 3 Hamilton, Andrew. "The Ikettes | Biography & History". AllMusic . Retrieved June 7, 2016.
  4. "Cover versions by Venetta Fields". SecondHandSongs. Retrieved 8 June 2016.
  5. "The Ikettes Chart History". Billboard.
  6. "Mirettes Chart History". Billboard.
  7. 1 2 3 4 5 "Venetta Fields | Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 8 June 2016.
  8. 1 2 3 4 5 Shedden, Iain (May 13, 2010). "Venetta Fields embraces Exile on Main Street session legacy". The Australian . Retrieved June 8, 2016.
  9. 1 2 Little, Michael H (May 29, 2015). "Graded on a Curve: Humble Pie, Eat It". The Vinyl District. Retrieved June 8, 2016.
  10. "Moore on Pop". The Australian Women's Weekly . 48 (25). November 19, 1980. p. 54. Retrieved June 8, 2016 via National Library of Australia. Note: Fields is incorrectly given as Vanetta.
  11. "Rock Music: Powerful, Emotive". The Canberra Times . 56 (16, 873). December 7, 1981. p. 12. Retrieved June 8, 2016 via National Library of Australia.
  12. 1 2 Venetta Fields entries at Australian Rock Database:
    • John Farnham Band (1986–95): Holmgren, Magnus; Reboulet, Scott; Albury, Lyn; Birtles, Beeb; Warnqvist, Stefan; Medlin, Peter. "John Farnham". Australian Rock Database (Magnus Holmgren). Retrieved June 9, 2016.
    • Chong Lim: Holmgren, Magnus. "Chong Lim". Australian Rock Database (Magnus Holmgren). Archived from the original on March 18, 2011. Retrieved June 9, 2016.
    • Joe Creighton: Holmgren, Magnus; Creighton, Joe. "Joe Creighton". Australian Rock Database (Magnus Holmgren). Archived from the original on January 10, 2011. Retrieved June 9, 2016.
    • Black Sorrows: Holmgren, Magnus. "Black Sorrows". Australian Rock Database (Magnus Holmgren). Archived from the original on February 7, 2011. Retrieved June 9, 2016.
    • Richard Clapton Band (1983–84): Holmgren, Magnus. "Richard Clapton". Australian Rock Database (Magnus Holmgren). Archived from the original on January 10, 2011. Retrieved June 9, 2016.
  13. 1 2 Lade, Neil (September 24, 1984). "Canberra Living: Rock Music". The Canberra Times. 59 (17, 893). p. 13. Retrieved June 9, 2016 via National Library of Australia.
  14. Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 . St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book Ltd. ISBN   0-646-11917-6. NOTE: Used for Australian Singles and Albums charting from 1974 until ARIA created their own charts in mid-1988. In 1992, Kent back calculated chart positions for 1970–1974.
  15. Spencer, Chris; Zbig Nowara; Paul McHenry (2002) [1987]. "Incredible Penguins". The Who's Who of Australian Rock. Noble Park, Vic.: Five Mile Press. ISBN   1-86503-891-1. Archived from the original on 29 February 2012. Retrieved 2 January 2010. Note: [on-line] version established at White Room Electronic Publishing Pty Ltd in 2007 and was expanded from the 2002 edition.
  16. 1 2 Kruger, Debbie. "John Farnham Reviews". Variety . Retrieved 9 June 2016 via Debbie Kruger Official Website.
  17. 1 2 3 "Contributor: Venetta Fields". AusStage. Retrieved June 8, 2016.
  18. "At Last - Venetta Fields : Releases". AllMusic. Retrieved 2013-03-27.
  19. Wild, David (October 21, 2008). He Is...I Say: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Neil Diamond . Da Capo Press. p.  129. ISBN   978-0-30681-784-7.
  20. Lade, Neil (October 8, 1984). "Canberra Living: Rock Music". The Canberra Times. 59 (17, 907). p. 13. Retrieved June 9, 2016 via National Library of Australia.
  21. "Logan's Rundown: New broom may sweep out the X logo for TEN". The Canberra Times. 63 (19, 612). June 19, 1989. p. 12. Retrieved June 9, 2016 via National Library of Australia.