Bernadette’s creative path reads like the back story to a mid-century Hollywood heroine: Ballerina, Fashionista, Hell Kitten, Sultry Chanteuse.
She spent her childhood in California and New York studying classical dance with the renowned Los Angeles Ballet, San Francisco Ballet and American Ballet Theatre until an injury drove her love of drag and pageantry north east and underground. Coming of age amidst the gutter glam and jewel-toned ink of New York and L.A.’s early 80’s street punk scene the ballerina scraped by as a sometimes fetish model, makeup artist, clothing designer and stylist.
In 1993 Bernadette declared Albuquerque home and in 2001 made her musical debut with one of the hottest roots-rockabilly bands in the Southwest, the Long Goners. Working closely with singer-songwriter Pat Bova, she belted out rebellious anthems in the style of Janis Martin and Wanda Jackson. Together, they shared the stage with rockabilly’s most iconic acts to include Hank Williams III, Jonathan Richman, Big Sandy and many more.
2003 found the burgeoning chanteuse ready to wrap her voice around the more complex musical terrain of jazz. She collaborated with acclaimed bassist and composer David Parlato while forming the new band – Bernadette Seacrest and her Yes Men. The combo’s first album “No More Music by the Suckers” was released in 2004 and features desire drenched jazz standards as well as original songs by Michael Grimes and Pat Bova. The band toured extensively upon the album’s release, playing to packed audiences across the U.S. and France. They were featured on NPR and Swing City Magazine described the album as “…an attempt for a one time rockabilly kitten to break into the modern day jazz scene and break the mold, an endeavor she unconsciously accomplishes.” Their second album, “Live in Santa Fe” was released in 2005 and magically captures the smoke-filled room acoustics of a sold out live performance.
In 2006 Bernadette followed her heart to Atlanta where a new project arose – Bernadette Seacrest and her Provocateurs – with guitarist/songwriter par excellence, Charles Williams and journeyman bassist Kris Dale. In 2009 “The Filthy South Sessions” was released to critical acclaim. The album’s collection of songs range from the All Mighty’s drinking habits to an epic lament about a diner at the end of the world, with stops in between. The arrangements are an amalgam of jazz, rockabilly and swing noire elements that elude all descriptors, allowing each musician’s considerable talent to shine through. During this era, Bernadette was awarded Best Atlanta Vocalist twice by Atlanta’s leading alternative press publication “Creative Loafing”. With new album in hand, Bernadette and her boys went on to tour exclusively in France.
In 2012 The Provocateurs disbanded and Bernadette went solo. With bass player extraordinaire Kris Dale as musical director, they crafted a different approach to their next album released in 2016 under the title “Lust & Madness” – an unconventional and bracing body of work – inviting repeated visits to the dark wells of the soul. Like an all-consuming novel, we consider life’s twists, plights and circumstances…with Bernadette’s seductive voice guiding us all the while atop raw and sparse instrumentation. Bernadette’s allure continues to foster a constellation of talented friends as Atlanta’s local heavy hitters Big Mike Geier (AKA Puddles Pity Party) and legendary Hall of Fame inductee Francine Reed appear on two separate tracks.
A Bernadette Seacrest “show” is better described as a coveted experience for the quietly informed. Her willing subjects recoil, laugh and blush as she relentlessly exorcises the demons of doubt, inhibition and lowered expectations born of life’s bludgeoning routines. Fans smile knowingly while newcomers are buffeted through songs with each new effort seeming to top the last. When the lights come up, they carry their experiences home in a beguiled state of wonder. Something has been restored and reclaimed. It’s authentic…. it’s intimate….. and we are blessedly reminded of how music can make us feel when we’re lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time.