Annabella Lwin makes it clear from the beginning; Regardless of the group of musicians around her on stage, regardless of who’s playing under what band name, she’s still the same — a half-Burmese Buddhist singer, who started her career at 14 years old with the short-lived English new-wave act Bow Wow Wow.
“I continue to do what I’ve been doing,” says Lwin, now in her 40s and touring under her own name, despite a reunion with the remaining original members of Bow Wow Wow that happened in 2011. Lwin plays with her new band tonight at Fulton 55.
“I didn’t think I’d be singing at the age of 40 something,” Lwin says. That’s despite the impact she (and Bow Wow Wow) had on a generation of musicians that followed. The band’s single “I Want Candy” became a ’80s classic, ranking 86th on VH1′s 100 Greatest Songs of the decade. The Red Hot Chili Peppers and No Doubt have long cited Bow Wow Wow as a major influence.
Not that anyone would have known that when the band started in 1980, Lwin says. When she came on as the band’s singer, it didn’t even have a name. “There was just a group of musicians in a rehearsal room,” she says. Those musician had been brought together by Malcom McLaren, the ex-manager/image consultant of the Sex Pistols, who pilfered them from Adam and the Ants.
McLaren wasn’t liked much, Lwin says, and many people took that out on her and the band, more so perhaps, because they were so not like the Sex Pistols. “It was a helter skelter ride,” she says. “There was a lot of hard work and slog.”
One that lasted just three years. By age 17, Lwin was out of the band. Her experience with Bow Wow Wow taught her to be disciplined.
It also taught her your attitude toward life can make all the difference. “Which I didn’t realize until I started practicing Buddhism again,” she says. She’s been collaborating with other artist (like songwriters Tom Kelly, Billy Steinberg and Ellen Shipley) and doing solo work ever since. Her single “Do What You Do,” reach the top 10 on the dance charts in England in 1994.
Still, Lwin is well aware of the band’s legacy and works hard to live up to that in her live shows and in the new music she creates. She trusts the fans will see that work. “I have big faith in the fans,” she says. “My fans are what made me the singer I am.”