Born Anne Valerie Walsh in Worcester, Massachusetts into a musical family. Her father Frank was a baritone/tenor who sang in many productions for local light opera companies. Early on, Anne’s parents knew they had a singer on their hands. After taking her to see a local production of “Oklahoma” she continued to sing the melodies from the score all the way home. Anne humorously recalls, “At age seven, I wanted to be Shirley Jones.”
After her high school choir girl days, Anne went on to attend Anna Maria College where she studied voice and music therapy. However, she wanted more in the form of a performance career. After graduation the determined young singer ventured out to southern California to pursue her dream.
Upon arriving in LA, she put her degree to work helping people through the use of music therapy; while in the evenings taking any stage with an open mic she could find, and heeding the advice of her favorite voice teacher back home “Anne, sing at any dog show you can find.”
Anne soon found her voice driving a forgettable classic rock band, but in time realized it wasn’t the best use of her talents. A musician colleague suggested she enroll at Orange Coast College, where she met the head of the jazz department, and enrolled in jazz improv classes and the big band rehearsal groups.
While performing in a concert with the OCC Big Band, a percussionist in the audience took note of her voice. “You need to audition for Sal at Carmello’s,” he said. That following weekend, Anne landed her first real jazz gig by way of Brazil. This was her introduction to the world of Jobim, Dori Caymmi, Basia, and Flora Purim. “The experience of singing Brazilian music gave my voice a freedom I had never known before.”
Despite the doors that were opening, Anne felt she needed to further her education and pursued a Master’s degree in music, doing so at Cal State Long Beach. There, she once again renewed her studies in classical voice, training in the bel canto style. “Opera is huge endeavor. It strengthened my voice in ways I could not have imagined.”
It was at this time, with the encouragement of her voice teacher, that Anne began auditioning for roles in light operas and musicals. After performing soubrette roles of Despina and Zerlina in Mozart operas, Anne decided to focus more on musicals, landing lead roles in “Music Man” (Marian), “Sound of Music” (Maria) and “She Loves Me” (Amalia), to name a few.
After receiving her Masters degree, Anne resumed her original career plan, landing a gig with a local quintet, where she met her future husband, pianist and arranger Tom Zink.
At this time, with her wealth of vocal knowledge, Anne began teaching voice to other aspiring singers. She was soon hired at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in Los Angeles; a college for the performing arts, and currently resides there on the faculty.
Presently, among gigs at the Long Beach Carpenter Center, Mckinney Theatre, and various clubs including Spaghettini’s Jazz Club, Anne is touring nationally and internationally. Anne along with her husband/pianist/arranger Tom Zink, headlined in Brazil at the Chapada Jazz Festival September 2013. “This was a life changing experience on many levels. The people are warm, kind and have such a love for music.”
Her 2009 release “Pretty World,” received a Grammy nomination in the category “Best Arrangement For Singer”. “Pretty World” includes the music of such jazz luminaries as Keith Jarrett, Sergio Mendez, and Don Grolnick. Carrying on in a contemporary jazz vein, Anne and husband Tom released “Go” in 2011 – an eclectic soundscape of contemporary and Brazilian jazz influences, which features originals, as well as a new take on the classic Wayne Shorter tune “Go”. Their 3rd album entitled “Brand New” features several original compositions including the title track Brand New, as well as “lyricized” versions of classic jazz and Brasilian jazz pieces and beautifully orchestrated classics like “Windmills of You Mind”, “Here There and Everywhere”, and “To Sir With Love”.
In addition Anne has recorded two concept albums of lullabies and sacred music, including “Parents’ Choice Award Winner”, “Baby Mine” and “Be Still My Soul”.