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Listening to the remastered edition of Jeff Wayne's The War of the Worlds (1978) was a blast from the past in more than one way -- among the voices there (which included David Essex and Justin Hayward when both were regular inhabitants of the pop/rock charts, and the late Phil Lynott, was Julie Covington. Even hearing her intoning the name "Nathaniel" in her dramatic sequences recalled the clear, clean strains of her work in the television series Rock Follies, and her hit version of "Don't Cry for Me Argentina", 25 years earlier. And it was a reminder that, at one time, Covington was the queen of the musical/dramatic concept album, easily scaling the pop charts with her singles, and the first choice when music producers needed a female singer who could act. She was born in London in 1947, and although she did do a little acting in school (in works such as Giradoux's Elektra), she had no strong inclination toward a career as a performer -- rather, Covington intended to become an educator, attending the teachers' training college at Cambridge University, where she joined the Footlights, a student theatrical troupe. It was there that she first started to act and sing, to material authored by Peter Atkin and Clive James. In 1967, Covington made her first recording, a privately issued LP entitled While the Music Lasts in collaboration with Atkin, featuring Atkin's and James' repertoire; she also appeared on The David Frost Show with Atkin in the summer/fall season. She performed at the Edinburgh Festival in 1967 and 1968, doing Shakespeare and singing jazz. It was her performance in the Brecht/Weill Mahagonny, at the 1968 festival, that brought her to the attention of producers, agents, and the public, earning her the first Fringe Best Actress award ever given. She appeared in a pilot episode for the BBC series Twice a Fortnight, with Terry Jones and Michael Palin. In December of that same year, she made her first appearances in North America, playing Peaseblossom in A Midsummer Night's Dream on the Oxford and Cambridge Shakespeare Company's tour.
In 1969, Covington built up her music credits, doing cabaret with Peter Atkin (and with him cutting The Party's Moving On, a second private recording of Atkin's and James' songs), and also substituting for Jon Hendricks at a club date. In 1970, she recorded her debut single, "The Magic Wasn't There" b/w "Tonight Your Love Is Over" and a year later came Covington's first commercially released album, The Beautiful Changes -- again comprised of Atkin's and James' songs -- for EMI.
Covington made her professional stage debut in 1972 in the original London production of Godspell, which she followed with an appearance on the cast album, which yielded the hit British single "Day by Day". She followed Godspell with an extended engagement on the BBC, reading children's stories. Making a leap across the pop culture chasm, Covington showed up in the original 1973 Royal's Court stage version of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, creating the role of Janet -- that same year she portrayed Charmian in Tony Richardson's stage production of Antony and Cleopatra, and she subsequently worked with director Sam Wanamaker at the Globe Theatre. She was Spirit of the Rainbow in Peter Hall's The Tempest (1974) and Dotty in Tom Stoppard's Jumpers (1976).
Covington had sung backing vocals on David Essex's Rock On, but she really didn't break through to mass audiences as a star performer until 1976. That was the year she won the London Theatre Critics' award as Most Promising New Actress, and was also cast as Dee in Howard Schuman's and Andy Mackay's Thames Television series Rock Follies, co-starring with Rula Lenska. The series, which was picked up by American television, was a huge hit around the world and yielded an internationally released album; it was all sufficiently popular to yield a sequel series, Rock Follies of 1977. Covington also showed up in The Mermaid Frolics, a 1977 benefit performance (and the film resulting from it) for Amnesty International that was the predecessor to the various Secret Policemen's Balls of the years that followed. That same year, as Rock Follies was capturing the attention of television viewers -- and getting her nominated for a British Academy of Film and Television Arts as Best Actress -- Covington was selected to do the role of Eva Peron on the original studio album of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber's Evita, and the single of her rendition of "Don't Cry for Me Argentina" topped the U.K. charts. She followed it up in 1977 with the hit single "Only Women Bleed," a cover of the Alice Cooper song.
Around this time, Covington also sang and acted on Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds, and got involved in various folk-related projects, cutting sides with the Albion Band (which later turned up on the Ashley Hutchings The Guvnor album series. In 1978, she cut her second solo album, Julie Covington, for the Virgin Records label with producer Joe Boyd, and provided backing vocals on First Light by Richard & Linda Thompson, the Kate & Anna McGarrigle album Pronto Monto, and Rise Up Like the Sun by Ashley Hutchings. Covington saw no more chart successes, and apart from working on a production of Guys and Dolls that yielded a cast album, abandoned recording in favor of theatrical and television work after 1978. Her appearance in the award-winning period drama Ascendancy (1983) gave Covington her sole major film credit to date, and The War of the Worlds CD kept her name alive in the early digital era. In 1999 and 2000, See for Miles and Virgin Records reissued both of her solo albums and the two Rock Follies albums.
Julie Covington (born 11 September 1946, London) is an English singer and actress, best known for recording the original version of "Don't Cry for Me, Argentina".Cite error: The named reference AMG was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
She attended the girls' grammar school Brondesbury and Kilburn High School in Kilburn.
Covington's break came in 1967 when, while still a student at Homerton College, Cambridge, she was invited to sing on David Frost's television show – after which she secured a recording contract.
She followed this early success with her 1971 Godspell casting at The Roundhouse, then with her 1972 original cast recording of Godspell (Day by Day) and her role as the original Janet Weiss in The Rocky Horror Show in 1973.
Between 1974 and 1984 Covington appeared regularly in the companies of the National Theatre and the Royal Court Theatre, creating such roles as Alice in Plenty, Vivienne Eliot in Tom & Viv (for which she received an Olivier Award nomination) and Edward in the original production of Caryl Churchill's Cloud Nine.
1976 and 1977 saw her appearing in the two series of the television programme, Rock Follies.
In 1978 she appeared with the English National Opera as Anna in The Seven Deadly Sins.
Rock Follies led to her landing the title role in the original studio recording of the Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice musical Evita. This had been offered to singer Elkie Brooks, who turned it down. Covington achieved an international number one with the song "Don't Cry for Me Argentina"; the single reached No. 1 in the UK Singles Chart in February 1977. She was later given the opportunity to originate the role in the stage production of Evita, but she declined, explaining that she thought the impact of her recording would be diminished, and Elaine Paige took the role.
In 1978, Covington performed the role of Beth, wife of Parson Nathaniel (Phil Lynott), on Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of The War of the Worlds.
Covington achieved chart success with a cover version of Alice Cooper's "Only Women Bleed" from her eponymous 1978 album. It reached No. 12 on the UK chart.
Following a second solo album and guesting on other artists' albums she returned to the theatre. She starred in the 1982 National Theatre production of Guys and Dolls, playing Sister Sarah, opposite Ian Charleson's Sky Masterson. Her performance was much praised. Russell Davies : - "Miss Covington's voice is of such a special timbre (described by a perceptive admirer as 'like celery') that she isn't easily matched."Cite error: The named reference AMG was invoked but never defined (see the help page). "The Nominees and Winners of The Laurence Olivier Awards for 1984". Official London Theatre Guide. Retrieved 2008-04-09. Challis, William (October 1978). "Ordinary Sins". Third Way Magazine (Hampstead, England: Thirty Press) (17): 26. "…the considerable talents of Julie Covington as Anna…" Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 124. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. Bogdanski, Jennifer J (30 May 2007). "Evita – a Concept Album About Who?". Sir Tim Rice – Evita. The Guys and Dolls Book, NHB Books 1997, p56