Holly Penfield, a luminary on the London jazz cabaret scene for over 25 years, is a native of San Francisco. She began singing at the the age of 12, trained by the legendary vocal coach Judy Davis who coached Barbra Streisand, Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis, Jr.
Moving to Los Angeles, singer/songwriter talent secured three record contracts, the most noteworthy being the records she made with Mike Chapman and Nicky Chinn (producers for Pat Benatar, Blondie, The Knack, Suzi Quatro, Exile, and Tina Turner). She recorded five albums of her own material, reaching the American charts. Many of the aspects of her rock 'n roll sensibilities Holly applies to her jazz cabaret performance.
Holly, like Josephine Baker, was lured by the European mystique, but made her career in London rather than Paris. Achieving great success as a jazz cabaret singer, she appeared at Pizza on The Park, Cafe de Paris, Beach Blanket Babylon, Pizza Express, China Jazz, and Scott's on Mount Street - where she was, (like Sally Bowles) the toast of Mayfair!Holly has also performed for Prince Charles and Princess Diana at the opening of a major London film studio, wowing guests including the Lord Mayor of London.
She has headlined major dinner concerts for 250 guests at the Savoy Hotel, playing a two-hour concert with a 12-piece band, and has sung in many prestigious London hotels including The savoy (3 years weekly resident) the
Lanesborough, The Landmark, The Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Knightsbridge, The Dorchester and The Ritz (at a private party for Prince Andrew and SarahFerguson). She has been seen by Dame Shirley Bassey, Lionel Ritchie, Kate Moss, Tony Blair, Margaret Thatcher, Boy George, George Michael and Michael Jackson (with whom she performed at the 1996 Brit Awards) and many more. In addition to public performances, she carries out hundreds of exclusive private parties all over England and Europe.
In London Holly has blazed a trail on the lively cabaret and burlesque scene. Many performers have followed in her high-heeled footsteps at the venues Holly launched, including the Soho Revue Bar, Volupte Supper Club and the historic Cafe Royal. At The London Hippodrome in Leicester Square Holly participated in the "Alternative Miss World " pageant, wearing wild costumes inspired by her electric stage presence, designed for her by leading designers of the time. Holly is often hired for her creativity with elaborate costumes to fit special themes, including a show in the historic vaults underneath London Bridge for an event built around "Dante's Inferno" illustrating the seven deadly sins. In addition to performing in upmarket establishments, she also has a fondness for appearing in unorthodox venues including wine cellars, boats and hot air balloons.
Holly has toured Europe extensively. She has performed at ski resorts in the Alps,at a Russian art gallery in St Moritz (alongside Faye Dunaway, Jacqueline Bissett, Michael York and Geraldine Chaplin,) in an amphitheatre in Sicily and in many a chateau for French farmers. In Norway she conducted a 13-city tour culminating in a concert in Oslo . European credits include music festivals in France , Italy and Germany , gigs in Istanbul , Munich , Copenhagen , Tel Aviv and Tokyo (at the enormous Budokan Theatre where she competed in the Yamaha Song writing Festival, winning a motorcycle!) She has appeared with her quartet at Cairo 's legendary Mena Hou Oberoi Hotel, at the base of the Keops Great Pyramid, singing swing at the El Khalifa Room.
Holly herself is a fine pianist whose serious song writing talents come to the foreground in her original compositions on her CD's "Both Sides Now" and "Le Jazz Hot" recorded live at the legendary Pizza on the Park...Following a three year residency at the prestigious savoy hotel in London she returned to her native San Francisco to spend time with her late beloved father Ray.
Holly returned to london in 2016 with her sensational holly sings Judy Garland show to packed house's at the London Hippodromes Matchem room (formerly the talk of the town).
Holly also recorded an album of songs from the show.
Holly can currently be found performing her original songs in the fragile human monster show which she is performing both here in London at the stunning Crazy Coqs cabaret room in Piccadilly circus as well as in San Francisco's Feinsteins at the Nikko.
Holly has just completed and is in final production of her album of original songs Tree Woman.
Holly can also be found performing her sin-tillating "evil" jazz cabaret, wowing fans old and new with her avant guard trademark costumes and outlandish behavior in establishments that include exclusive private clubs and reformed Victorian gentleman's toilets!
What The Press & Industry Have Said
"Holly Penfield knows exactly what she is doing and she is 'an original' if i had to make comparisons i'd say she is like David Bowie meets Liza Minnelli"
- Simon Cowell
"Penfield gave us not an imitation but an homage to her heroine (Judy Garland) with a voice that movingly did justice to both the song and the original artist."
- Cabaret Scenes Magazine (Helen Theophanous)
"...her powerful, highly expressive voice has made her a must-see for any visitor to London with a taste for cabaret."
- Theatreland by Paul Ibell
- Gay Times
"Singer is too weak a word. This Holly does not go lightly. She is a one woman explosion. Her 45 minute set is a passionate flirtation with the audience and never overdone. I wish other singers could hear this bombshell, they could learn how to make better use of their time. I picked up a few tips myself."
- The late, great Larry Adler
"Vegas may have Elton and Celine, but now Soho has its own devilishly talented singer in residence. Holly Penfield could give either of these divas a run for their money, not just for the power of her vocals but in terms of sheer old school glamour. Holly has established herself as the premier cabaret performer."
- Evening Standard (London)
"Holly Penfield is more than one fine diva -- she's a whole host of them, and they all look wonderful and sound sensational."
- Sir Tim Rice
"From lewd self-penned Weimar era numbers in a Liza Minnelli black wig and basque, to a wrenchingly poignant rendering of Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now", Penfield can neither be second-guessed nor her banter bettered. It's impossible to imagine how much more someone could give to their audience. A flaming glitterball of passion, glamour and joie de vivre."
- Metro (London)
"She is extraordinary. Everything about her -- her voice, her persona, even her clothes... she is a performer to surrender yourself to... You should take this opportunity to enjoy this wonderful, outrageous creature, with her extravagant, colorful plumage.... a captivating, compelling performer."
- The Scotsman (Edinburgh)
"There are no less than seven costume changes... she works the audience extremely well... Cabaret of this nature is comparatively rare. Presented by as accomplished a musician as Penfield, who has written several of the songs, it is a joy to watch."
- The Stage (London)
"A classic jazz singer with a fantastic voice full of sensuality, backed up by a superb band... Singing a range of classics from "Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend" to Joni Mitchell, Holly also has her own songs and provides an evening of cool and sensual fun that is perfect for late night entertainment."
- Three Weeks, Edinburgh Fringe Festival
"Go see her now, then buy the CD. Holly is going to be huge!"
- Scotsgay (Edinburgh)