In 1995, Debbie Fleming found herself craving to sing a jazz vocal harmonies, as she used to when she had a group called Sing-Co-op-8 in the early '80's. That group used to sing a lot of Gene Puerling arrangements - as recorded by Singers Unlimited, The Hi Lo's and a few original songs and arrangements. Sing-Co-op-8 dismantled because all the members were very busy - and found it difficult to get together to rehearse. The group consisted of Debbie, along with Judy Tate, Jamie Ray, Sue Tanner, Jim Gillard, David Blamires, Bob Hamper and Vern Kennedy.
Upon hearing Take 6 in the early 90's, Debbie's passion for jazz harmonies re-ignited, and she set out on a search for singers who had similar interests. At first, various old friends and great vocalists like Elaine Overholt, Laurie Bower, David Light got together with Debbie, Judy Tate, Judy's daughter Emilie (now well known as successful jazz solo artist Emilie Claire Barlow), Stephanie Taylor, Larry Folk and Don Laws. Phil Dwyer introduced Debbie to York U students at the time - Suba Sankaran and Dylan Bell, who brought along Tom Lillington, and suddenly there was magic!!!
Debbie applied to The Ontario Arts Council for a grant to record a Christmas album, and began to write and arrange original new Christmas material. The Ontario Arts Council awarded a grant to the group, and All I Want For Christmas was released in 1996 to great acclaim. CBC radio was very supportive of the fresh new material, and Hampton Avenue began performing for very appreciative audiences.
Larry Folk, Tom Lillington, Judy Tate, Laurie Bower, Judy Tate, Dylan Bell, Tom Lillington, Debbie Fleming, Stephanie Taylor, Emilie Barlow
Stephanie Taylor, Suba Sankaran, Don Laws, Debbie Fleming, Emilie Barlow Front row: Larry Folk, Don Laws
(Dylan Bell was missing from this photo, as he was away at school).
In 1998, Hampton Avenue received two CASA Awards (Contemporary A Cappella Society of America) - Best Holiday Song (I'll Miss You This Christmas, sung by Emilie Barlow)
and Best Holiday Album.
In 1999, Hampton Avenue released a new CD entitled Everybody Sing.
Co-produced by Debbie and Larry Folk, it contained 90% songs and arrangements by members of the group, and featured a new member - baritone Tim Olfert.
By the time we recorded this album, Don Laws left the group, as did Emilie Claire Barlow, who was embarking on her road to huge success as a solo jazz artist
(later recording many of her own albums, and winning two Juno Awards)
As a result of these two albums, and performing in Ontario and the US, Hampton Avenue was honoured to receive a Jazz Report award for Best Vocal Group in 1999, as well as
numerous awards from US sources, for songs and arrangements.
Here, Debbie Fleming accepts the Jazz Report Award on behalf of Hampton Avenue.
Hampton Avenue continued to perform together as an octet for 2 more years, but as members moved away, and left the group because of their own demands, it became impossible
to continue. Finding the perfect vocal quality, ear, pitch excellence and sight reading was a near impossible task, without changing the overall quality and timbre of the group.
As a final recording project, Debbie released another CD with 6 members of Hampton Avenue, and called it A Gift of Harmony. Along with Debbie - Suba Sankaran, Merry Ann Hutton, Dylan Bell, Tim Olfert and Tom Lillington added their voices. Most songs were arranged and written by Debbie Fleming, and had been performed by Hampton Avenue before they dis-assembled.
All these CDs are still available for sale in our Hampton Avenue Market on this site, or through Debbie Fleming
After the octet disbanded, Debbie Fleming, Suba Sankaran, Dylan Bell and Tom Lillington became The Hampton Avenue 4, and continued to work as a quartet, as they realized that they had a special magic to their sound. Because of their unique timbre and musicianship, their excellent pitch and sightreading, they are in demand in the recording industry, and can be heard on some Avalon and Solitudes recordings with Michael Maxwell and John Herberman. They were also part of the choir on Alan Jackson's Christmas CD release of 2002, as well as appearing in many jingles on television and radio.
They sang in the made for TV movie -- The Music Man, starring Matthew Broderick.
Christmas has always been their busiest time, as they perform regularly at 120 Diner at 120 Church St., singing traditional carols, as well as some jazzy Hampton Avenue offerings in 4 parts.
They are becoming increasingly in demand for Corporate functions -- as their versatility, "joie de vivre" and incredible musicality are attractive to audiences of all ages.
In 2018 - they are bound for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August, to perform their acappella treats for audiences there. Edinburgh Festival.
To contact the Hampton Avenue 4 -- please call 416-461-7811
or email us at: Hampton Avenue 4 Email