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Fond farewells to Brighton's Queen of Jazz Renee Ansell
4:30am Tuesday 4th February 2014 in News
Brighton's Queen of Jazz will be laid to rest today.
Popular performer Renee Ansell, 90, passed away peacefully at the Royal Sussex County Hospital last month suffering from gangrene, angina and other illnesses.
The great-grandmother, best known as Brighton's Queen of Jazz, is remembered for spending years singing at numerous city venues and events while working for more than three decades at the Remnants fabric store in Blatchington Road, Hove.
Born April 30, 1923, in Southampton, Renee began performing in public aged 13 and entertained wartime troops in concert halls, on board ships and in her house, which had been commandeered.
Her father was a high-profile booking agent who looked after glamorous film and sports stars when they came to the country from America in the twenties.
At times, he would invite famous faces back to their home and Renee would entertain them with song.
She leaves behind three children, three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Her daughter Sally, 56, said: “She lived for her music and performed at Pride in one of the tents in recent years. She was over the moon to do that. She sang all the time - it was her life.
“She was born in Southampton and sang for troops in her house when it was used by the military. She moved to Brighton in her early teens after her house was bombed - but her Brighton home was then also bombed too.
“The last few days before she died she even recorded a new CD. She was a caring mother and was still performing in The Seven Stars pub up to a few days before she went into hospital. She will be missed.”
Renee's son Lenny, 66, added: “She had two focuses. One was music and the other was family. She got up on stage one day and never looked back. She was an incredible mother who loved performing. She had very bad and painful feet but whenever she got on stage the music took over, it was like her morphine.
“We are all very proud of her.”
She also briefly achieved television fame when she made it to the live finals of The X Factor, aged 81. She blasted Simon Cowell as "nasty" after he failed to help her up the steps to the stage despite seeing her struggle.
Renee's open-invitation funeral will be held today at the Downs Crematorium in Harrington Road, Brighton, at 3pm. Her daughter family requests guests bring one single flower.
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