Bernita Bush and her music
Bernita’s Gospel Passion
Bernita is a native of Cincinnati, Ohio. Growing up there she attended the Lutheran Church and sang in the Sunday School choir. Admiring and listening to Mahalia Jackson, Albertina Walker, André Crouch or the Golden Gate Quartet has proven to be most inspirational.
She’s lived in Switzerland since 1980. Early on, she became well known on the Gospel scene. Peter Luginbühl accompanied (s) her on piano helping her spread the Good Word in Hymns, Psalms and Spirituals.
An example of this successful union was apparent on their first Gospel CD Were You There produced by Chair de Poule in 1992. Performances with Peter Luginbühl were not limited to duo. In 1996 as they expanded to Quartet or Quintet, the band took on fuller sound with Martin Albrecht (b), Thomas Zingg (dr) and Stefan Dorner (Hammond org) on the next CD, Because He Lives. Later on, Tom Gisler enhanced the band on Hammond org. The traditional Gospel songs and Spirituals were sometimes mixed with modern Gospel interpretations.
Maturity gave way to opportunities to function as soloist/lead singer with mass choirs in Switzerland and Germany: in Switzerland, she was both featured guest and lead vocalist with Gosp & Pop Choir, Voice Affair, Mosssee Gospel Singers, Gospel & More, and The Swiss Mountain Singers; in Dresden Germany, with the Thomas Steltzer Gospel Crew. In addition, she was guest soloist in the Benefit Concert Project “Singen für einem Guten Zweck” – Singing for a Good Deed.
The 1974 Roberta Flack hit Killing Me Softly sparked the turning point for Bernita to expand her musical activities and school her voice in both classical and later on, in jazz. In her early years she was inspired by The Supremes, The Temptations, Tina Turner, Chaka Kahn, Aretha Franklin and many more. These diverse music genres were apparent in her 1989 CD You’re Not Alone in the Dark, a combination of original Gospel and Pop compositions sung in duet with Heinz Sommer.
Two jazz legends - Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan - were the voices resounding in her ears and she admired them the most. She later discovered Dianne Reeves and numerous other female vocalists, listening intensely. During her short time at the Bern Jazz School, she advanced her knowledge, style and her interpretation of all genres of music along with private semestral voice lessons with Sandy Patton. She coached her further on over the years, helping her find her own style, finetune her skills, and equally fulfill her passion for music.
In 1993 Bernita was able to bring her Jazz voice to light when she was featured on Martin Albrecht Quartet’s album First Edition. To gain more experience, Bernita began to work with various different Jazz bands. 1983-1998 she was the Voice in the Ambassador Big Band, Solothurn. The new groove was Big Band, Glenn Miller, Count Basie. From 1997-2005 she was the vocalist with the Ambasstown Jazz Band, Solothurn. Their yearly highlight was Jazz am Märetplatz, an open-air Jazz Festival where Bernita shared the stage with Kings of Swing like Warren and Allan Vaché, John Barnes, or John Allred.
In 2002, it was time for Bernita to produce her own Jazz CD with the Juan Gonzalez Trio. She titled it Stepping Out. Jazz giant Jimmy Woode wrote the liner notes. That CD opened doors into the mainstream Jazz scene that also led to gigs on European Jazz Festival stages, even reaching the Montreux Jazz Festival’s Jazz cruise. Pianist Roger Robert made that possible in 2012.
2005-2015 Bernita renewed her Big Band experience with the Evergreen Big Band.
More gigs followed, where she performed with Reggie Johnson, Liliane Boutté, Kat Baloun, Leroy Jones, Juan Gonzalez, Thilo Wagner, Andy Harder and Pius Baumgartner, just to name a few!
“You need to find the voice that comes from the very depths of your soul”.