DIANA DeWITT

Country USA

Style Melodic Rock/AOR/Pop/Rock/Country

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Diana was born in Higgins Lake, Michigan, the second of three daughters. By age four, she was singing duets in church with her older sister while her mother accompanied themon piano. Mom taught them many styles of music. That kind of exposure was great training for her ear and voice. They moved to Lansing when she was ten. It was in Lansing where she got her first real oppurtunities in music. In fifth grade she took up the clarinet, at her mother’s request, and continued duets with her sister who was playing flute. She lost interest in clarinet though, and by age thirteen she sold it to buy her first guitar. She went crazy for guitar and learned as many songs as she could. Cat Stevens, Bob Dylan, Simon and Garfunkel, Carole King, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Joni Mitchell, Melanie, Dan Fogelberg, The Eagles, Linda Ronstadt, so many artists with great songs influenced her.

She started performing at school concerts, local television telethons, weddings, parties, even opened for some headliners at the Lansing Convention Center. B.J. Thomas, The Righteous Brothers, Ray Stevens and Jose Feliciano may remember a fifteen year old finger picking a classical guitar and singing to warm up the audience before their shows.

Her father got a few names of record producers from people working with these headliners and started contacting them. Dad said, “If you’re going to sing, you’ve got to make records”. He was determined to get someone interested in working with her. Letters were written and calls were made.

Her sophomore year of high school they moved to St. Johns, Michigan, her dad’s hometown ,twenty miles north of Lansing. Spring break they rented a motor home to drive to Florida for vacation. Midway they stopped in Nashville, Tennessee to meet with Larry Rogers. Larry was an independent record producer tied with Columbia Records. He owned his own studio in Memphis and was one of the people her father had contacted. With braces on her teeth and guitar in hand she played and sang in his Nashville Music Row office. Pleased with what he was hearing, Larry wanted to see what she sounded like on tape. He called and booked Columbia’s Studio B. Conveniently close by, they walked over and she recorded her first three song guitar/vocal demo. The Rolling Stones-Ruby Tuesday, Cat Stevens-How Can I Tell You I Love You, and Linda Ronstadt’s -Love Has No Pride-written by Eric Kaz were the three songs she chose to put on tape that day.

She began working with Larry through her junior and senior years of high school. Every three months or so, her dad and Diana would drive of fly down to Memphis to record songs his writers were writing for her and even a few she had written. She continued entertaining locally in St. Johns and Lansing. Hooking up with another guitarist who sang, and then adding a third person for special occasions , they kept ourselves busy. She got involved in acting in the school musicals. Her love for a good comedy and drama still remains.

She went to a small college in Jackson, Tennessee. It was 80 miles to Memphis and 120 miles to Nashville. She was still recording with Larry and he hooked her up with Bill Black’s Combo for road experience. They traveled all over the south in a big bus opening for Merle Haggard, Marty Robbins or as headliners. She  formed a band with musicians in Jackson and started playing in clubs and traveled the south.

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She kept up her relationship with Larry Rogers and he gave her studio time to record with her band. She did six songs. They were short versions of different styles showing her versatility in hopes of getting publishing demo work in Nashville. She moved to Nashville and started getting session work the first week. She was recording demos for publishers and songwriters, singing on commercials and jingles, and doing backgrounds on albums.

Jimmy Gilmer signed her to a publishing deal with United Artists Music. There she met Michael Hanna. Michael was an excellent keyboardist/arranger and was a signed writer for United Artists as well. They began writing and recording together. Rounding off her third year in Nashville , they were married and headed out to Los Angeles.

In L.A., she wrote and recorded material for TV and movies with Michael and continued with her session work as a singer. Hoyt Axton hired her to sing with him on a variety of tours, some to Europe and she sang on some of his records as well. She did a variety of work in L.A. as she had in Nashville. She also did some acting in Hollywood. A couple of small stage roles, an on-camera performance of Baywatch’s pilot movie, and some extra work as a dancer in a feature film.

Hanna and Diana wrote and recorded a song on John Tesh’s Cypress/A&M release Garden City. It was called “You Break It, You Pay For It”. Tesh shortened it to “You Break It” and it was released as a single on the adult contemporary charts. She was the featured vocalist. It topped the charts at 18 in the Gavin. They shot a performance video of the song splicing it with environmental footage… “You Break It, You Pay For It-Everything You Do Comes Back On You”. They were played on Video Jukebox and VH-1.

Keeping with the ecology theme, she started a band with Michael called “Hippie Gypsies”. A retro rock group that she fronted. Michael and Diana wrote the songs with occasional help from a couple of the band members. Playing out in the L.A. clubs and recording an albums worth of songs or more, they worked together for a couple of years.

During my time in L.A., she met Robin Randall. After singing for her and her mother Judithe, a long friendship developed. Robin and Diana went to Europe in the fall of ’93 to back up Mark Free. Robin and Judithe wrote all the songs on his record, and she had sung the backing vocals on it. She started writing with Robin in England and they began recording when they returned to the USA. They formed a female duo Venus & Mars and those original recordings became their first CD called Grand Trine. No message music here- just love songs and music about relationships.

Robin and Diana finished the CD in ’94. Michael and Diana separated and she moved back to Nashville. Her family was within three hours drive because they had moved to Tennessee when she started college years before. Venus & Mars Grand Trine was released in Japan and Europe under a couple small distribution companies and they actually sold a good number of copies.

She has continued her session work on albums, commercials and demos and perform on stage in a variety of configurations with others or on her own. Venus & Mars has played out in L.A. when trips out there come up. Robin and Diana are putting out a second CD called Venus & Mars New Moon Rising. This will be released under the Japanese label Avex Trax sometime in April “98. She is working on new material and recording on her own music in Nashville. With a raw, earthy feel focusing on vocal melodies and lyrics, she hopes to create something quite different than any of the music she has worked on before.

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– Diana Dewitt And The Hippie Gypsies – Diana Dewitt And The Hippie Gypsies [1990]
– Venus & Mars – Grand Trine [1994]
– Venus & Mars – New Moon Rising [2003]
– Diana DeWitt – Through My Window [2011]

 

Artists where Diana DeWitt work with: Berton Averre (The Knack), Amy Grant, BJ Thomas, Debby Boone, Kathy Tricoli, Michael W. Smith, Hoyt Axton, Liza Minnelli, Kenny Rogers, Michael McDonald, Mickey Thomas (Starship), BB King, Robert Tepper, John Tesh, Roxus, Lee Greenwood, Amanda Marshall, Sherrie Austin , Gary Dunham, David Meece, Brown Bannister, Steve Camp, Farrell & Farrell, Mark Free, Glen Garrett, David Robertson, Bryan Duncan, Twila Paris, Gary McSpadden, The Evinrudes, Natalie Grant, Billie Myers, Cheryl Ladd, Lorie Morgan, Sammy Kershaw, Joy Williams, Jeff Foxworthy, Neil Young, Pegi Young, Jaime Kyle, Emmylou Harris, J. D. Souther

Movie song credits: Night of the Comet, Malibu Bikini Shop, The Doorman, Benji-The Hunted, Darkman ( Danny Elfman ), Overdrive, Say Anything, Backlash

Notes by Diana DeWitt

 


 


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Rating: 9.6/10 (8 votes cast)
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DIANA DeWITT, 9.6 out of 10 based on 8 ratings