Carol Ralph was born at Carrington, Newcastle, NSW. At home she listened to her father's collection of big band swing instrumentals, and she was inspired by the recordings of Peggy Lee and Sarah Vaughan; later she discovered the joy of listening to Bessie Smith, Ida Cox and the other great blues singers. A visit to New Orleans with Jack McLaughlin, John Edser and others convinced her that she wanted to make a career as a blues and gospel singer. After hearing a performance by Kate Dunbar and the East Coast Quintet, she enrolled with her as a pupil in 1987, and a year later was one of the founder members of Kate's highly successful Singers' Workshop. Progression from sitter-in to paid performer came fairly quickly at a time when Sydney was not lacking in women singers.
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