Anne Burnell
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Anne Burnell

Chicago, Illinois, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2005 | SELF

Chicago, Illinois, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2005
Band Jazz Adult Contemporary




"20 Years of Cabaret Music in Chicago through the eyes of one couple"

Rick Kogan Rick KoganContact Reporter
Chicago Tribune
The music-making couple has been married for more than 20 years but a few days ago Anne Pringle, the singer/wife, was compelled to take a trip back some 30 years to a club that no longer exists. Mark Burnell, the pianist/husband, listened as she said, "I don't regret a thing."

The place was Yvette, a ritzy restaurant nightclub on State Street a bit north of Division Street, now long gone, like so many other nightspots. Yvette was then the site of a talent contest being held over four Sundays. I was a judge along with pianist Al Blatter, once a fixture on the local music scene. Over the weeks we had seen a lengthy parade of modest or paltry talents.

Blatter and I were talking about what it is that compels people to make fools of themselves onstage, when one of Yvette's waitresses got up and sang.

After a couple of minutes Blatter looked at me and said, "She wins. No contest."

Employees were not eligible to win the contest, but we told this waitress how wonderful she was and when we did she asked, "Should I quit my job and try to make a go as a singer?"

"Yes," we said, without really thinking about the consequences. "Do it."

"I will," she said. "Watch for me."

And so we did and we have been watching and listening ever since as she has carved a fine career and met her musical mate.

She met Burnell a few years after her bold Yvette decision and after he had moved here from Pittsburgh; she's from Michigan. They met when both were performing on one of those cocktail/dinner cruise ships that park at Navy Pier. She sang, he listened and on their first date, they went to hear the late, great Buddy Charles play the piano and sing. On their second date they took a bicycle ride. It's been quite a ride ever since.

"This is a crazy business," says Mark. "It may look glamorous but it's a hard way to make a living. You have to learn to wear a lot of different hats."

Says Anne: "We've had to be willing to morph as the scene has changed."

That they have done. Together they could rattle off the names of dozens of clubs that have closed, of performers who have come and gone. But neither has any regrets about the way they have chosen the live their lives.

"It is impossible for any jazz musician to play or sing a song the same way twice," says Mark. "We grow and we change."

Mark, who also sings and arranges, has long taught vocal lessons, plays all over town, hosts open mics and has had a very steady gig for the past four years, performing with a trio on Saturday nights downtown at the Tortoise Club.

In addition to singing, Anne has also been a fitness instructor for almost as long as she has been married. She spent five years assisting those staying at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago and currently works for other institutions and also teaches kickboxing, Tae Bo and Pilates. She finds this work, "very rewarding."

When they can, they perform together, as they did at a recent Skokie Theatre concert-tribute to singer Julie London (

"There is an increasing need for people to get out — get away from the television," she says. "I saw it happen right after 9/11 and it continues. People need of a human connection."

These married music makers are part of very active if somewhat under-appreciated (unless you read the work of my tireless colleague Howard Reich) live music scene here and one that will be celebrated in a couple of weeks at the fourth Chicago Cabaret Convention (

It kicks off April 19 at the glorious Empire Room in the Palmer House Hilton and carries on April 20-21 at the Park West. Nearly 30 performers are on the schedule. Many come from other climes but the majority do their thing in these parts and include such talents as Pringle and Burnell, Shelley MacArthur, KT McCammond, Tammy McCann, Joan Curto, David Edelfelt, Marianne Murphy Orland, Karen Mason, Spider Saloff, and Beckie Menzie and Tom Michael.

These gatherings represent a tuneful taste of Chicago, a wonderful way to experience the variety of styles to be found all over the city.

The many performers appearing at the concerts come from various backgrounds, lead different lives, have different loves but they are tied together by music.

Menzie and Michael have, for instance, been performing together for nearly two decades. They are happily in relationships with other people but will be together when they perform 8 p.m. Saturdays in April at Davenports with their new show, "The Highs and Lows of Musical Duos," exploring in song and story the relationships of such musical pairs as Simon & Garfunkel, Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme, and others.

Anne and Mark Burnell are not among the couples featured in the show and though I don't know for sure, it's likely that they will be in the audience for one of the performances.

"The music scene here is very supportive," says Anne as Mark nods in agreement. - Chicago Tribune

"Anne & Mark Burnell Present The Brill Building Songwriters"

The Brill Building Songwriters This Friday
Chicago Jazz Magazine

A show coming up this Friday October 28th at the Skokie Theater will pay tribute to the hotbed of creativity in songwriting that came out of the Brill Building in New York city during the 1960's . The show is presented by the husband and wife team of Anne and Mark Burnell and will focus on the music that was written during that time which was performed by such artists as James Taylor, Paul Simon, Bobby Darin and many others.

We caught up with Anne Burnell to get more information about this very intriguing show.

CJM: Tell us about the concept of the show, why the Brill Building and why is it so significant?

Burnell: This was a creative center like none other. A hotbed of songwriting. In its heyday in the 1960's there were over 165 music businesses in the Brill Building. The writers Carole King, Gerry Goffin, Burt Bacharach Hal David, Neal Sedaka, Howard Greenfield, Cynthia Weil. Barry Mann, Doc Pomus, Mort Shuman, Jerry Lieber, Mike Stoller, Carol Bayer Sager, producer Phil Spector, the singers Mama Cass, Aretha, Carly Simon, Bobby Darin, Ben E. King and the Drifters, James Taylor, Paul Anka, Dionne Warwick, Jim Croce, Paul Simon and so many more.

CJM: Did the music you will be performing serve as an inspiration in your own musical development?

Burnell: I have always loved good stories in songs, especially the singer songwriters. Both of us have taken a crack or two at writing. With this music, there's lots of opportunities for vocal harmony which we love.

CJM: Can you share some of the repertoire that will be performed that evening?

Burnell: "Jazzman" is one of our favorites, she's talking to the horn player - "lift me won't you lift me, above the old routine.....Jazzman, take my blues away" reminds me of Jack Kerouac's "On the Road". The story of "Save the Last Dance for Me" that Doc Pomus had polio and couldn't dance, and his wife was a beautiful Broadway dancer, he was telling her, yes go and dance, but don't forget who's taking you home.

CJM: Who will be performing with you on October 28th?

Eric Schneider will be joining us on sax. Eric played on my last CD, he's the most talented guy and he makes everything sound like an amazing recording with lots of soul! We played an annual event together for years with Joannie Pallato, Sparrow, and George Freeman, and I love his sets at Andy's.

Glenn DeMichele is on bass. Glenn plays a five string and has been with me in my original and blues band from the 90's playing clubs and festivals. He also plays pedal steel in a country band.

Nick Kitsos is on drums, we rarely got to work together. Recently, I called him up for a benefit gig, and we reconnected. Love his rock sensibility. He's played for Poi Dog one of my favorite bands among many others.

Mark Burnell, keyboard, vocals and is the music director. Mark is a well known pianist, vocal coach, and music director for many organizations. We work together (and we are married), but we haven't done a show in a long time. We used to open them here and go to New York. We will see where this one takes us!

CJM: What are the details on tickets and location of the performance?

Burnell: The show is this Friday October 28th at 7:30pm and tickets are $25. It is at the Skokie Theatre, 7924 Lincoln Ave, Skokie, IL. You can visit the for tickets and information. - Chicago Jazz Magazine

"Duo shares songs that came out of Brill Building"

Suburbs Skokie Review Skokie News
Duo shares songs that came out of Brill Building
Anne and Mark Burnell
Anne and Mark Burnell will share songs by noted songwriters who worked out of New York's Brill Building such as Leiber and Stoller, Carole King and Burt Bacharach. (Jennifer Girard)
Myrna Petlicki
Pioneer Press
Once upon a time, scores of songs that became standards were created in one Manhattan structure. Celebrated cabaret artists Anne and Mark Burnell will take audience members to that time and place when they present "The Brill Building Songwriters," Oct. 28 at the Skokie Theatre.

"It's our American Standard building," Anne Burnell said, noting that it was where writers of rock and roll as well as some of the writers of Tin Pan Alley worked. "It was the last era that songwriters were writing songs for other people. There was still that feeling of songwriting as a profession separate from the performer."

Mark Burnell was drawn to this project by "the fascination of the building as a giant music factory. It's 10 or 11 floors and in its heyday there were over 160 music businesses — from composition to producing to recording studios. There were all these rooms with a piano and a chair, and all these composers writing songs at the same time. The sound was bleeding through the walls and they were hanging out together and having romances and inspiring one another."

Anne Burnell added that sometimes those songwriters "would create songs and then go from floor to floor and sell the songs to the music publishers to get money for the weekend."

The building opened in 1931 but the Burnells' show focuses on the especially productive period of the 1960s and '70s. They originally presented a version of this show in 2010 at Maxim's in Chicago. Steven Anders, former comedy writer for Acme Vocals, helped the pair craft the patter for the show.

"It won't be like a learning presentation — slides or anything like that," Anne Burnell laughingly related. The show, which is filled with humor, was designed to give people "the feeling" of the building, including how "haphazard" the creation of some of those brilliant songs were, she noted.

Mark Burnell's attraction to Brill Building songwriters started early. "When I was in high school playing piano, I was drawn to Carole King and Burt Bacharach," he said.

Almost all of the songs in the show are from songwriting duos, including Leiber and Stoller, Goffin and King, Mann and Weil, Bacharach and David, and Sedaka and Greenfield.

"We're doing a little medley from Leiber and Stoller," Mark Burnell said. "We don't have a lot of medleys because we think these songs can stand on their own."

The playlist will include, "You've Got a Friend," "I Feel the Earth Move," "Up on the Roof," "Save the Last Dance for Me," "Will You Love Me Tomorrow?," "The Look of Love," "One Fine Day," "Make Your Own Kind of Music" and "Laughter in the Rain," among other familiar numbers.

Music will be provided by singer/pianist Mark Burnell, as well as a drummer, bassist and saxophonist.

Both performers are excited about the selections they will be singing, praising the talents of the Brill Building Songwriters.

"They wrote amazing hooks," Mark Burnell said. "We like to sing in vocal harmony and so many of the hits that came out of the Brill Building were done by vocal groups or people that used harmony."

Anne and Mark Burnell present 'The Brill Building Songwriters'

When: 7:30 p.m. Oct. 28

Where: Skokie Theatre, 7924 Lincoln Ave., Skokie

Tickets: $25

Information: (847) 677-7761; - Chicago Tribune - Skokie Review

"Anne Burnell Summer Days & Dreamy Nights"

Chicago Jazz Magazine
March 30, 2015
Hrayr Attarian

Anne Burnell - Summer Days and Dreamy Nights
Anne Burnell – Vocals
Henry Johnson – Guitar
Mark Burnell – Piano
Mike Logan – Keyboards, piano
Corey Wilkes – Trumpet
Eric Schneider – Saxophone
Joshua Ramos – Bass
Charles Heath III – Drums

A marvelously misty ambiance permeates vocalist Anne Burnell’s third release, the unabashedly romantic, Summer Days and Dreamy Nights. Burnell interprets 13 pop-oriented tunes and standards with her signature graceful charm as her fluid silken voice navigates the various scales with remarkable agility and delightful phrasing.

Her unadorned artistry is on full display on the dramatic “A Time For Love.” Accompanied only by producer and arranger Henry Johnson’s shimmering resonant guitar lines Burnell’s evocative enunciation of lyrics drips with heady poetry.

Even as lush orchestral sounds envelope and buoy her singing, as on “Dreamsville,” her expressive intonation stands out with its warm, rich glow. Pianist Mike Logan’s evocative piano chords and Johnson’s undulating strings handsomely frame Burnell’s passionate articulation.

Burnell, who is a deft at switching styles, showcases her versatility on a number of slightly edgier tracks. She brings a suave sensuality and a bold swagger to the cabaret-ish “Don’t Ever Leave Me.” Elsewhere, on the swinging “The Best Things in Life Are Free,” she joins the frontline with hard-edged trumpeter Corey Wilkes and erudite saxophonist Eric Schneider with surprising facility. The superlative rhythm duo of drummer Charles Heath III and bassist Joshua Ramos rumbles in the background, occasionally breaking through with thrilling flourishes.

On the sunny Latin ballad “Moment to Moment” Burnell’s effervescent song floats over Logan’s crystalline phrases. Meanwhile on the breezy Bossa “I Got Los In His Arms” her vocalizing shimmies to her husband Mark Burnell’s cascading notes and Johnson’s silvery reverberations.

This engaging album aptly closes with the exuberant “Goin’ Out of My Head.” Her supple, honeyed vocals flow along the undulating instrumental refrains of the band with splendid, smooth sophistication. Burnell maintains her singularity by avoiding being pigeonholed. She proves herself, once more, adept at a variety of genres to all of which she brings a jazz musician sensibility.

By: Hrayr Attarian - Chicago Jazz Magazine

"Anne Burnell"

Before she recorded her last album Blues In The Night: Songs by Harold Arlen, Anne Burnell, one of Chicago’s most versatile live performers, followed a classic roadmap paying lush tribute to a legend. The collection was an NPR and jazz radio sensation across the U.S., and was played internationally on Jazz & Blues Tour Radio, Amsterdam and Canada and – testament to its “cool” factor with young tastemakers hit the Top Ten on the CMJ charts. Anne’s latest, the gloriously diverse and whimsically titled Summer Days & Dreamy Nights, celebrates not a single composer but a singular friendship between the singer/songwriter and renowned Windy City based jazz guitarist Henry Johnson, who produced, arranged and plays electric and acoustic throughout the 13 track set. She met Johnson three years ago at Andy’s Jazz Club during one of the many gigs she played there with her husband and frequent musical partner, pianist and vocalist Mark Burnell.

They struck up an immediate friendship and had a feeling they would soon be collaborating on a project. Johnson’s resume of legends he has recorded or performed with includes Ramsey Lewis, Nancy Wilson, Jimmy Smith, Jack McDuff and Donny Hathaway. In addition to performing at jazz clubs and festivals in Chicago, Pittsburgh, NYC and other cities, singing cabaret and participating in tribute theatre concerts, Anne is a nationally renowned Pilates trainer, specializing in Peyow Aqua Pilates. Once they started working together, Johnson became familiar with two of her earlier albums. “He liked the way I was singing more funky stuff, mixing jazz and older pop tunes, and there was a quality in my voice then that he wanted me to go back to. The new album began organically, the way any collaborators would explore a fresh relationship. Over time, he broke down some of the vocal habits I had acquired. Before we started recording, Henry and I did a lot of exploring and rehearsing. He was an incredible vocal coach, and helped me strengthen my voice and free it up to be more flexible. Even the musicians on my gigs started noticing!”

Excited about the liberation of Anne’s vocal palette and newfound emotional dynamics, she and Johnson sought the perfect blend of material to showcase her evolving artistry. The resulting collection is cleverly divided three ways. One third of Summer Days & Dreamy Nights is her beautiful and heartfelt original material, highlighted by the balmy, percussive and brass-fired romance “San Juan” and “Right By You,” a soulful, easy strutting gem penned by Anne and Mark, who plays piano on seven tracks. The second third is a mix of crafty re-imaginings of well-known songs, including an elegantly jazzy, slowly simmering “Close To You,” a lighthearted, a coolly wistful turn on Gershwin’s “They Can’t Take That Away From Me” and the lively jazz-soul twist on “Goin’ Out Of My Head” that closes the set. Johnson’s vast knowledge of music helped drive the selections of the final third of the project, covers of songs that are so obscure the listener might think they’re brand new.

These include two beautiful Henry Mancini pieces, the lush and caressing “Dreamsville” (from the “Peter Gunn” TV series) and a lively samba flavored take on “Moment To Moment,” featuring lyrics by Johnny Mercer. The soulful purity of Anne’s voice also shines through on Irving Berlin’s “I Got Lost In His Arms” from the musical “Annie Get Your Gun.” Anne also swings brilliantly through “The Best Things in Life Are Free,” a tune from 1927; Johnson’s deft arrangement includes explosive solos by tenor saxophonist Eric Schneider and trumpeter Corey Wilkes. Also helping bring Anne and Henry’s distinctive and beautiful vision of Summer Days & Dreamy Nights to life is the alternately powerful and subtle rhythm section of bassist Joshua Ramos and drummer Charles Heath III, both of whom tour regularly with Johnson as part of Ramsey Lewis’ band. Despite having a wealth of song titles to draw from, Anne and Henry made the choice to come up with an image-rich title influenced by the overall vibe of the collection. “Within the lyrics of each song, there is a lot of talk of summer skies in ‘A Time for Love’, she says.

“The song ‘Dreamsville’ talks about nighttime and being up on a cloud, while ‘Moment to Moment’ is about the anticipation of seeing someone you love. On a personal level, summer is when I come alive – something I think everyone feels. It’s the season with the longest days of the year, yet they always seem not long enough. We want them to last forever. As for the Dreamy Nights, I think of Audrey Hepburn in ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s,’ out on the town all night and coming home blissful in the morning.” “For me,” the singer adds joyfully, “the album is not only an artistic breakthrough and the start of a wonderful creative relationship with Henry, but a representation of those times in life when you’re truly and rapturously lost in the moment.” --Jonathan Widran, Jazziz Magazine - Chicago Jazz Magazine

"Anne Burnell Summer Days"

Anne Burnell: Summer Days & Dreamy Nights
Carla Gordon | December 1, 2014 |

Anne Burnell
Summer Days & Dreamy Nights
November 26, 2014

Reviewed by Carla Gordon for Cabaret Scenes
Is there something in the water? Maybe Anne Burnell has imbibed a magic potion that makes her voice better supported, elastic, and more alive than ever. That is clear on her latest CD, Summer Days & Dreamy Nights. Burnell is singing higher than before, which fleshes out her sultry sound with some lacy feminine tones. This is most clear on Irving Berlin’s “I Got Lost in His Arms,” which is both sensual and sentimental all at once while honoring Burnell’s jazz sensibilities. Husband Mark Burnell’s piano solo on this track is lush and lovely. There are fun Latin rhythms in the Burnells’ s original “San Juan.” Their “Something I Can Feel” has a compelling lyric that challenges us to take the risk to find our individual bliss. It’s sophisticated, meaningful lyric might be better communicated with simpler arranging. Kudos also to producer/arranger Henry Johnson who added grand instrumental interludes throughout, particularly with his own rich guitar riffs as well as those of trumpeter Corey Wilkes featured in Burnell’s bouncy rendition of “The Best Things in Life Are Free.” The closing track, “Goin’ Out of My Head,” features supple vocal riffing and an energetic, rhythmic thrum. - Cabaret Scenes

"The Tempo of Chicago jazz does not slow for the holidays"

The tempo of Chicago jazz does not slow for the holidays.
December 26, 2014
Howard Reich
Among the highlights:
Anne Burnell: The veteran Chicago singer mines the narrow zone where cabaret and jazz overlap, often with her husband and long-time collaborator Mark Burnell. For this outing, though, she'll celebrate a different partnership: her work with the superb Chicago guitarist Henry Johnson, who produced and arranged her newest album, "Summer Days & Dreamy Nights." Johnson plays on the recording, as well, the musicians covering a broad swath of repertoire, from Burnell originals ("San Juan") to standards ("Close to You") to less familiar tunes (Henry Mancini's "Dreamsville"). "Summer Days & Dreamy Nights" marks an important step for Burnell, one enriched by Johnson's jazz sensibility. 5 and 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Andy's Jazz Club, 11 E. Hubbard St.; $10-$15; 312-642-6805 or
Howard Reich, Chicago Tribune - Chicago Tribune

"Anne Burnell channels Julie London in 'Cry Me a River'"

Anne Burnell will perform a tribute to actress and singer Julie London, who released 32 albums in 15 years. (Anne Burnell)
Myrna Petlicki
Pioneer Press
Acclaimed cabaret artist Anne Burnell will channel a singer known for her sultry, sensual singing style when she presents "Cry Me a River: A Julie London Tribute" at the Skokie Theatre on Feb. 24. Anne's husband Mark Burnell is music director.

Anne noted that the concert was inspired by a trumpet player she worked with who compared her to London because, "I like to hang out with the band and be one of the guys. That kind of surprised me because she was such a glamorous pinup person. It endeared her to me."


inRead invented by Teads
When Anne suggested they create a show about London, Mark immediately agreed. "I always liked her voice — that really husky, breathy, smoky, sexy sound," he said. "It kind of reminded me of a tenor sax player that plays with a lot of air, like a Ben Webster or Stan Getz."

"A warm, warm, warm sound," Anne agreed, adding, "She's an actress so she's infusing every lyric with meaning."

When guitarist Henry Johnson, who produced and arranged Anne's most recent album, "Summer Days & Dreamy Nights," agreed to join them, "We knew we had a show," Anne said.

The Burnells began researching London and discovered, to their great surprise, that she had recorded 32 albums in 15 years.

"It's an insane amount of material," Anne said, noting that only two or three songs were repeated on all those albums.

Anne recalled deciding, "If I'm truly going to research her, I should listen to every single album." So, she did.

"Then she presented me with 88 songs," Mark said. It was not easy whittling those down for the show, he indicated. "She chose such great material. She sang the best songs," Mark said.

They managed to reduce that number to a little over two dozen songs. Since the majority of London's songs were ballads, they selected some of the up-tempo numbers to create a more balanced show.

Audience members will hear a couple of pieces written by London's husband, songwriter and jazz pianist Bobby Troup, "The Meaning of the Blues" (lyrics by Leah Worth) and "Girl Talk" (music by Neal Hefti).

In addition, Anne's numbers will include, "Nice Girls Don't Stay for Breakfast," "And I Love Him," "Bye Bye Blackbird" and, of course, "Cry Me a River."

Two other musical notables have been added to the concert.

Drummer Paul Wertico, who played with the Pat Metheny Group from 1983-2001 and currently tours with Wertico Cain & Gray, has won seven Grammy Awards and earned several gold records.

Double bassist Mark Sonksen has played in all of the Chicago area's major jazz clubs, including a regular weekly gig at the Green Mill in Uptown. He has also toured around the country and across the globe.

Besides singing London's songs, Anne will share information about London who, in addition to being a nightclub, jazz and pop singer, was a film and television actress and a onetime pinup model. To be certain that the information is accurate, the couple has been in frequent contact with Michael Owen, whose definitive biography, "Go Slow: The Life of Julie London," will be released in July.

This has turned out to be a mutually beneficial relationship. Anne reported that author Owen is "thrilled someone is doing a show of her music."

'Cry Me a River: A Julie London Tribute'

When: 7:30 p.m. Feb. 24

Where: Skokie Theatre, 7924 Lincoln Ave., Skokie

Tickets: $25

Information: (847) 677-7761; - Chicago Tribune - Skokie review


"Sleep On It" released under Anne Pringle
"Serious"  released under Anne Pringle
"Little Things We Do Together" - released under Anne Pringle
"Blues in the Night" Anne Burnell
"Summer Days & Dreamy Nights" Anne Burnell 


Feeling a bit camera shy


Anne Burnell performs at festivals and jazz clubs in Chicago and throughout the Midwest, as well as Pittsburgh and NYC. Favorite performances include 5 years singing at the Taste of Chicago, Park West, University of Chicago's Jazz at the Logan and sold out shows at Andy's Jazz Club. Her newest release, "Summer Days & Dreamy Nights," celebrates her friendship with renowned guitarist Henry Johnson, who produced and arranged the CD, and plays acoustic and electric on the 13 track set. Burnell's last release, "Blues in the Night," featured arrangements by Count Basie Band veteran Bob Ojeda and paid tribute to the composer Harold Arlen.  Her recordings have garnered airplay nationwide on numerous NPR and jazz radio stations in major markets.

"Her supple, honeyed vocals flow along the undulating instrumental refrains of the band with splended, smooth, sophistication. Burnell maintains her singularity by avoiding being pigeonholed. She proves herself, once more, adept at a variety of genres to all of which she brings a jazz musician sensibility." 

 - Chicago Jazz Magazine

Band Members