Gail Ann Dorsey is a top session bassist and vocalist with an eclectic, impressive career spanning two decades. She has also received critical acclaim and notoriety as an international solo recording artist with her 1988 WEA debut album The Corporate World, and her 1992 Island Records recording Rude Blue. Gail has performed and recorded with an incredibly diverse collection of distinguished artists including Bryan Ferry, Dar Williams, Tears For Fears, The Indigo Girls, Jane Siberry, Khaled, Skin, and most notably, her near decade as touring bassist/vocalist for the legendary David Bowie.
Dorsey's musical journey began as a 70's teenager in West Philadelphia, playing guitar, bass, clarinet, drums, singing and eventually penning her own musical compositions. An ardent creative writer and film buff, Gail also wrote feature-length screenplays to accompany some of her musical compositions. A self-taught musician, she undoubtedly possessed the necessary talents and ambition to propel herself to the top of the music world she longed to be part of growing up.
In September 1980, Gail attended California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, California, a 17-year old freshman in the School of Film &Video School/Live Action. Her screenplays and short Super 8mm films earned her a full scholarship. At the time, Dorsey was the only female in her freshman class, and the youngest female ever to be admitted to the Live Action department. Gail completed three semesters at CalArts, but found herself unsuited to the protocols of the film industry. She set her sites once again on a career in music and returned East to New York City in late winter of 1982.
After a seemingly unfruitful year in New York, fate brought 21 year-old Gail Ann Dorsey to London in the summer of 1983, where her professional career began to take shape. Dorsey's first high profile job was guest vocalist in the original line up of The Charlie Watts Big Band (drummer for The Rolling Stones) and its 1985 premiere at London's famous West End jazz club, Ronnie Scott's.
By 1986, Gail Ann Dorsey was a striking presence on the London music scene. She contributed her bass guitar and vocal trademarks to up-and-coming as well as mainstream artists of the day like Boy George, Ann Pigalle, The Thrashing Doves, The Kane Gang, Donny Osmond, Julia Fordham, and Concrete Blonde.
An unforgettable appearance on "The Tube", a hit British music television weekly hosted by Jools Holland and the late Paula Yates was a pivotal point for Dorsey's aspired solo career. Gail performed a show-stopping rendition of Bobby Womack's "Stop On By", accompanying herself only on bass guitar. Not long after her memorable, nationwide debut, she found herself in a bidding war for her first major recording contract.
In December 1987, Gail signed with WEA Records in London, and in 1988 released her first solo album entitled, The Corporate World. The album was produced by world re-known bassist Nathan East of the multi-platinum selling jazz quartet Fourplay and includes appearances by Eric Clapton, Anne Dudley (Art Of Noise), Andy Gill (Gang Of Four), and drummer Steve Ferrone (Tom Petty). The Corporate World debuted with a 5-Star review and was voted one of the Top 50 Albums of the Year in London's Q Magazine. It produced a top 10 single in The Netherlands with "Where Is Your Love", and spawned two classic 80's music videos for "Where Is Your Love" and "Wasted Country."
Dorsey and her five piece band played to sold out clubs and theatres across the UK and Europe, including Amsterdam's Paradiso, the Ancienne Belgique in Brussels, and the infamous Grosse Freheit in Hamburg, Germany. She opened for Aztec Camera at The Royal Albert Hall and played to an eager capacity house at the ICA in London.
Gail Ann moved to Island Records in 1991, signed by long time admirer and former Island Records founder himself, Chris Blackwell. In 1992, she released her second album entitled Rude Blue, which featured trumpeter Mark Pender and trombonist Richie "La Bamba" (Conan O'Brien Band), Carla Azar on drums (Wendy & Lisa), Carol Steele on percussion (Bette Midler), and the infamous James Brown horn section of Maceo Parker, Fred Wesley, and Alfred "Pee Wee" Ellis.
When her relationship with Island also proved problematic, Dorsey removed herself from the spotlight and returned to session work. In 1994, after nearly 12 years in England, Gail relocated to the well-known artist community of Woodstock in Upstate New York. Throughout the remainder of the 1990's and into the 21st Century she performed and recorded with artists such as The Gang Of Four, Louise Goffin, world music stars Rachid Taha, Faudel, and Khaled ("1, 2, 3 Soleils"), Sophie B. Hawkins, Tears For Fears, The The, The Indigo Girls, Canadian artist Jane Siberry, Jeffrey Gaines, Italian blues man Zucchero, Dar Williams, Catie Curtis, Toshi Reagon, vocal diva Joan Osborne, The B-52s, and the late Michael Hutchence of INXS.
Gail Ann Dorsey is probably best known for her contribution to the David Bowie band. She was recruited by David for his 1995 Outside Tour with Nine Inch Nails; a six week tour that turned into one of contemporary music's most enchanting unions. Dorsey has affixed her deep pocket, melodic bass and distinguished vocals to the 1997 Earthling CD, the 2002 Heathen CD, and Bowie's most recent release, 'Reality.' She recorded "Planet of Dreams", a duet with Bowie on the 1997 EMI UK benefit CD release, Long Live Tibet, as well as several other live recordings, world tours, videos, and countless major media events. Gail performed with David Bowie at "The Concert For New York" at Madison Square Gardens, where he opened the historic event with his classic "Heroes".
When not on tour, Gail performs locally in Upstate New York, and has participated in songwriter events and opening slots for shows at New York's The Bottom Line, The Living Room, and The Fez. Gail also performs with actor/vocalist Maggie Moore (Hedwig & The Angry Inch) and Kate Pierson of the B-52s in the original line up of The Chanteuse Club in and around New York City. Her live rendition of Bacharach's "Alfie" is fast becoming an underground classic.
Gail's recent solo appearances include her poignant performances of "Passion Play (When All The Slaves Are Free)" and "The Wolf That Lives In Lindsey" at WFUV's "Wall-To-Wall Joni Mitchell Tribute" in March 2003 at The Symphony Space, New York City. She received a standing ovation.
Aside from her recent tours with David Bowie, Gail Ann Dorsey has just released her first solo album in over a decade. The album entitled 'I Used To Be' is a collection of previously unreleased material spanning Dorsey's songwriting archives of the past 18 years. Dorsey pens all songs with the exception of a few collaborators, namely Roland Orzabal and singer-songwriter Kristen Hall. 'I Used To Be' was produced by Dorsey and engineer/producer Brandon Mason (Joan Baez, Heather Nova), with longtime friend and fellow bassist, Sara Lee as executive producer.
Over the years, Dorsey's compositions have ranged from rock, to funk, to country, and pop in its purest sense. She describes her current sound as a present day version of the AM/FM radio tunes that left a thumb print on her musical psyche; music like The Fifth Dimension, Olivia Newton-John, Bread and the Wilson sisters, Heart. She expresses a deep passion for the rich arrangements of Burt Bacharach and Thom Bell, and high enthusiasm for the quirky and innovative song styling of hit-makers like Jimmy Webb and Laura Nyro. There is also the undeniable connection with her hometown sound of Philadelphia soul. When asked to sum up the Gail Ann Dorsey sound in one word? "Black-arach", she calls it, "but that's maybe how I feel most days." Sometimes you can never tell what vehicle is required to deliver the message until it tells you. I don't want to limit myself to anything. I just want to maintain honesty and substance in the work. That is my responsibility to the music and the audience."