I was sad to hear of the death of Adelaide Hall on Sunday and I was impressed by Steve Voce’s thorough account of her life and work. I got to know Adelaide in 1989 when, at David Gothard’s instigation I organised a full evening concert with her in the Studio Theatre at the Leicester Haymarket. We met in her flat in Baron’s Court and I made band arrangements from her piano parts for the Leicester Bley Band – a group of staff and students who played the music of Carla Bley. Along with pianist Mick Pyne we rehearsed in the afternoon and played that evening. From the moment when she began singing Creole Love Call off-stage to the closing St. Louis Blues the audience were completely captivated and it was one of the most satisfying theatrical experiences of my life. Adelaide was particularly pleased to be playing with a predominantly young band and made a special point of acknowledging a flute solo from a girl who was barely a fifth her own age. There was a delightful moment when, having broken into The Lady is a Tramp after Mick’s introduction to A Foggy Day, we came to The Lady is a Tramp in the second half of the concert she realised what had happened and burst into peels of laughter. In the restaurant after the concert she wouldn’t leave my side and we stayed up talking and drinking until the early hours. We became good friends and I visited her in London whenever I could.
Photographs of her at 90, like the one in your paper, show the extraordinary beauty that she clearly had as a young woman. Beauty like that is ultimately generated from within and Adelaide had an incredibly youthful spirit and a zest for life that was obvious whenever she performed but which she also demonstrated in her everyday life. As your obituary rightly indicates she occupies an important place in music history. She was at the same time a very lovely person.