The NZ Music Music Hall of Fame recognises the significant contribution Jenny has made to music on both sides of the Tasman, not only as an artist with some of Australasia’s most memorable hits, but also in her work and dedication behind the scenes.
Born in Tokoroa, raised in Hamilton, Jenny cut her musical teeth in the all-female band Wide Mouth Frogs. She then rose to prominence in the late 1970s as the lead singer of the new wave/pop act The Crocodiles, alongside the unforgettable Bruno Lawrence and enigmatic Fane Flaws.
The Crocodile’s debut album Tears, released in 1980, was a pop classic, which delivered gems such as ‘New Wave Goodbye’ and ‘Whatcha Gonna Do’. But it was the album’s title track ‘Tears’, with Jenny’s distinctive vocals and effortlessly cool style, which won over the hearts of New Zealanders.
The band released another album, Looking At Ourselves, in 1980, and won two NZ Music Awards for ‘Most Promising Group’ and ‘Top Group’. But a year later they went their separate ways, and Jenny moved to Australia. She started a new trio, QED, before establishing her solo career.
What followed was an impeccable solo career that saw Jenny become the face of 1980s Aussie-Kiwi pop. With a string of hit singles and albums, she cemented her place as one of the southern hemisphere’s most well respected singers and songwriters.
She was a finalist for ‘Most Promising Vocalist’ and ‘Top Female Vocalist’ at the NZ Music Awards in 1981, with her debut solo single – the theme song for classic Australian movie Puberty Blues – helping to build her profile. She also gained recognition recording and touring with INXS as a backing singer in the mid-80s.
But Jenny’s reign began in 1987 with the release of her debut record Body and Soul. A superbly crafted 11 track album, which showcased a powerful voice and a sharp pop/rock prowess.
It included the title track ‘Body and Soul’ and the Neil Finn-penned ‘You I Know’, and reached Platinum status, charting in both New Zealand and Australia. It also earned Jenny the award for ‘Best Female Artist’ at the 1987 ARIAs.
It paved the way for Jenny’s second album, 1989’s Shiver, produced by Andrew Farris (INXS). The record delivered more single success with ‘Saved Me’, ‘She’s Got To Be Loved’ and ‘Street of Love’, and reached #2 in the Australian charts; #6 in New Zealand. It remained in the charts for an astounding 39 weeks in Australia and 25 weeks in New Zealand. It was also certified Double Platinum and won Jenny her second ARIA Award for ‘Best Female Artist’.
Jenny’s success down under took her on the road internationally and in 1990 she opened for Prince in Europe, before returning to the studio to record her third album Honeychild released in 1991. It reached #4 in the Australian chart and included the smash hit ‘Break In The Weather’.The albums Salvation Jane, Hit and Myth,and Clear Blue In Stormy Skies followed, cementing Jenny as one of Australasia’s most prolific female songwriters.
But it wasn’t only her hits that defined her career in music. A staunch supporter of charity, Jenny has been instrumental in the Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy ‘Art of Music’ events, while in 2009 she performed for Australian troops in Afghanistan, and she was also a World Vision ambassador in Kenya.
In 2013, Jenny became the first female chair of APRA AMCOS – a position she still holds, representing songwriters across Australasia and advocating on their behalf.
Jenny revealed four years ago that she had been diagnosed with the life-changing medical condition spasmodic dysphonia, which affected her voice. And after a performance at Sydney’s Taronga Park Zoo in 2015, she announced that it would sadly be her last, marking the end of her singing career. It hasn’t stopped her from throwing herself into her charitable work and collaborative projects however, nor dimmed her love of music.
Jenny Morris tribute by Ladyhawke
Watch the full induction by Prime Minister, Rt. Hon. Jacinda Ardern, acceptance by Jenny Morris (with Victoria Kelly) and performance by Ladyhawke.