Wendy Matthews (b. 1960 in Montreal, Canada) is an Australian-based adult alternative pop singer who has won seven ARIA awards and achieved a number of hit records in the 1990s.
Born in 1960 in Montreal. At the age of 15, she joined friends in the Little Benny Blues Band named after Little Benny Park where they used to hang out. Matthews left school at the age of 16 and went busking across North America with a couple of friends. She found herself in Los Angeles where she worked as a session musician.
Glenn Shorrock, formerly of the Little River Band, asked her to sing backup vocals on his Australian tour in 1983. Matthews decided to stay in Australia at the completion of Shorrock's tour and soon found herself in demand as a session vocalist and singing jingles. She sang on albums by Jimmy Barnes, Tim Finn, Richard Clapton and Icehouse. After singing backup vocals on the Models' 1985 album Out of Mind Out of Sight, she became a regular backup vocalist for the band.
Matthews did her first soundtrack work on the TV series Dancing Daze but it attracted little notice. ABC-TV asked Matthews to sing with Kate Ceberano on the soundtrack to the series Stringer in 1987. The soundtrack You've Always Got the Blues was released in 1988 and became a hit reaching #4 on the Australian charts. Wendy Matthews also sang on six tracks from the Australian movie Rikky and Pete and appeared as guest vocalist on the track Jump from Rockmelons debut album Tales of the City.
Wendy Matthews joined the Australian supergroup Absent Friends in 1989 with Sean Kelly and James Valentine of the Models and Garry Gary Beers of INXS as well as Roger Mason and Mick King. She sang lead vocals on the single "I Don't Wanna Be With Nobody But You" from the album Here's Looking up Your Address which became a top ten hit and toured with the band.
During this period, Matthews would continue with her session work singing on the Cher album Heart of Stone in 1989 and on Peter Blakeley's debut album Harry's Cafe de Wheels in 1990.
In 1990, Matthews recorded her debut album Émigré with the assistance of the members of Absent Friends as well as Tim Finn and Peter Blakeley. The album was released on the rooArt label owned by INXS's manager. The album became a hit, being certified Platinum and Matthews won two ARIA Awards for "Best Female Artist" and "Best Single" for "Token Angels" (which hit #18 on the Australia charts) . She also won the Australian Rolling Stone magazine award for best female vocalist in 1990 for her debut album and her work with Absent Friends. Subsequent hits from the album were "Woman's Gotta Have It" (#34) and "Let's Kiss (Like Angels Do)" (#14).
Matthews released a live mini-album The Way It Has To Be in 1991 as well as supporting the Neville Brothers on their Australian album. She then started work on her second solo studio album Lily. Wendy Matthews was on tour supporting Simply Red on its 1992 release. Both the single "The Day You Went Away" and Lily became great successes with the album going double-platinum in Australia selling over 140,000 copies. "The Day Your Went Away" hit #2 on the Australian charts; and the album spawned two further hits in "Friday's Child" (#15) and "If Only I Could" (#41).
Matthews won Best Female Artist and Best Single for "The Day You Went Away" at the 1992 ARIA Awards. She released her next album The Witness Tree in 1994, featuring the Top 40 hit "Standing Strong". The album again went Platinum selling 100,000 copies and winning her third ARIA award for Best Female Artist. Matthews returned to Canada before the release of her next album Ghosts in 1997. The single "Beloved" from the album peaked at a modest #49 on the Australian charts, but remained charted for almost six months, her longest charting single after "The Day You Went Away".
In 1999, Matthews released Stepping Stones, a greatest hits package which hit #4 on the Australian charts, earning her another Platinum certification. She left Sydney where she was living in 2001 to settle on a property near Coffs Harbour. She also contributed a track to Olympic Record an album produced for the Sydney Olympics featuring Australian artists. The Beautiful View album was released in 2001 again making the Top 40 ARIA album charts. It was her first record with BMG records.
In 2003, Wendy Matthews duetted with Rod Stewart on the track "My Heart Stood Still" on the Australian release of his album As Time Goes By: the Great American Songbook 2. She released a covers album, Café Naturale in May 2004. On her website, Matthews says that she tried a new approach recording it acoustically. "To keep creative you have to break down your own personal barriers. With this record that meant moving away from pop and crafting something instrument-driven, something that feels like me playing live.
The album includes acoustic versions of a number of well-known songs including U2's "One" from the Achtung Baby and Massive Attack's "Protection" from the album of the same name. The first single "All I Need" is a version of the Air song from the Moon Safari album. The album debuted in the top 50 of the ARIA charts.
Wendy's distinctive voice is also heard on Max Sharam's "Jezu Jewellery", and as backing vocalist on Cher's recording of "Heart of Stone".
Wendy recently recorded the album "She" on her own independent record label, Dancing Deer. "She" is a personal collection of favourite songs by women who have inspired Matthews over the years, among them Bonnie Raitt, Aretha Franklin, Emmylou Harris, Chrissie Hynde, Joni Mitchell, Buffy St Marie and Jane Siberry. She embarked on a national Fallen Angels Tour, during May and June of 2008.
Wendy has appeared on both series of Channel Seven's celebrity singing competition It Takes Two. The second series premiered May 8, 2007, where Wendy is paired with comedian Russell Gilbert. The pair were voted off in week 4 of the competition.