Born September 19th 1969 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Candy Dulfer is six years old when she starts playing the saxophone. Her father Hans Dulfer, a renowned jazz saxophone player himself, recognises the talent of his little girl and enters her into the local brassband Jeugd Doet Leven in Zuiderwoude. There she switches from soprano to alto saxophone - which is still her favourite instrument to this day.
Aside from some basic musical training she receives in the brassband, Candy pretty much teaches herself the following years. Of course aided by her father who, after only a few months of music lessons, puts her on stage together with his band to perform her first ever solo!
At eleven years old, Candy makes her first recording together with Hans. A year later, at the tender age of twelve, she performs at the famous North Sea Jazz Festival with Rosa King as a member of her "Ladies Hornsection". 'Rosa taught me many things and encouraged me to become a bandleader myself,' Candy says. She also teams up with a band called Own Cultivation - the band with the lowest average age ever to perform at that festival.
By joining her father Hans on several occasions and doing many jamsessions in the club circuit of Amsterdam, Candy is getting known among musicians as a hot new talent. At fourteen, she starts her own band Funky Stuff, which quickly gains a loyal following. The media catches up on this rising star and Candy appears on national radio and television, while doing many interviews with the press. Several record companies offer her a deal. She turns them all down.
After opening for Madonna at the Feyenoord Stadium in Rotterdam in 1987 - a much-talked-about performance which the band largely improvised - Candy starts up a new, more professional edition of Funky Stuff in early '88. Fortunately, the people love the 'new' Funky Stuff. The band plays sell-out gigs across the country for more than a year. The final show, at the famous Paradiso club in Amsterdam, sells out weeks in advance.
While being on tour, Funky Stuff is scheduled to perform as a support act for another megastar, Prince. At the last minute, Prince cancels the support act for his three shows in The Netherlands. Candy is furious. She writes Prince a note saying that he missed an excellent chance to see a girl 'play her ass off' on the saxophone. Two days later, Prince apologizes and invites her to join him on stage for an impromptu blues. Candy brings the house down. His Royal Badness is very impressed and asks her to work on some more projects with him in the States.
There, Candy records saxophone parts for The Time, Jil Jones, Patti LaBelle and, of course, Prince - contributing to his soundtrack album Graffiti Bridge. She even plays a prominent role in the video of his hit single "Partyman" and performs with Prince on Saturday Night Live. Although she enjoys every minute of it, Candy misses playing with her own band and being her own boss. After careful consideration Candy decides not to take Prince up on his offer to accompany him on a world wide tour. 'I loved working with Prince, but for my personal wellbeing it was better to go my own way.' Their paths will cross again some years later...
Before heading to the States, Candy had recorded several tracks with Dave Stewart, best known as one of The Eurythmics. The simple and cool instrumental "Lily was here" is featured on the soundtrack of a Dutch feature film. When released as a single, it surprises everyone - mostly Candy - by going straight to Number One across Europe. 'I never would have thought of it,' Candy says. 'I recorded my part in five minutes. I was hoping they wouldn't put it on the album. I was so embarrassed. It was so simple and I even played off-key. It wasn't until later that I learned to appreciate it and saw what a genius Dave Stewart is.'
She should, because "Lily" breaks new ground for Candy internationally. She finally accepts an offer from the record company BMG Ariola and decides the time has come for her own album - on her terms: total artistic freedom. This results in her smashing debut album Saxuality, released in May 1990, featuring 8 songs written by Candy and young and talented Funky Stuff guitar player Ulco Bed. The album is promoted by an extensive tour of The Netherlands, the rest of Europe and the States, as well as high profile appearances on Jay Leno's "Tonight Show", "Good Morning America" and The Arsenio Hall Show. To top it all off the album is nominated for the prestigious Grammy Awards in the category Best Instrumental Pop Recording. Saxuality ends up selling over a million copies worldwide. In short: an astonishing debut.
As a result from her work with Prince and Dave Stewart and her own highly successful album, she is asked by Van Morrison to join him on stage at the Pinkpop Festival. Impressed by her playing Van still invites her for live performances and album recordings to this day. In June 1990 she plays her biggest crowd yet when she joins the legendary psychedelic rock band Pink Floyd at the renowned Knebworth Festival. Amids heavy winds and drizzly rain, the 130,000 spectators watch her do prominent solos on the classic Floyd-tracks "Shine on you crazy diamond" and "Money". And despite other high profile gigs with the likes of Maceo Parker and Dave Stewart, she steadily moves along with her own career.
With the Saxuality team she also records the new album, Sax-a-go-go, released in 1993, a tribute to her own musical roots with guest appearances from the likes of Tower of Power and Maceo Parker. It also features a song specially written for her by Prince! The tour that follows - again with a completely renewed edition of Funky Stuff - takes her across Europe and Asia. The three hitsingles from that album - the title track and cover versions of "Pick up the pieces" and "I can't make you love me" - become instant classics in her repertoire. In Malaysia she is greeted by hundreds of fans at the airport, in Japan people recognise her on the street and travel along on the tour. Candy is clearly a star in her own right by now.
The release of her third solo album, Big Girl, is preceded by a high profile appearance at the World Liberty Concert in Arnhem, The Netherlands, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Europe and the end of World War II. Amidst tanks, planes, pyro technics, hundreds of actors and lasers, Candy joins superstars like Joe Cocker, UB40, Wet Wet Wet and Art Garfunkel for an unprecedented spectacle, performing elaborate solos with Alan Parsons and her very own "I can't make you love me". The show, attended by over 100,000 fans, is broadcast world wide and watched by millions of people.
Big Girl - curiously titled as an inside joke to her fathers album Big Boy and as a sign of her growing maturity - is released in the Fall of '95 and features the hit single "Wake me when it's over", a duet with long-time idol David Sanborn. The album marks a transition between the work of Ulco Bed and newcomer Thomas Bank, a talented keyboard player and composer / producer. She gains many new fans by touring Eastern Europe, including much hailed shows in former Yugoslavia, while still finding time to contribute to recordings of Van Morrison, daddy Hans Dulfer and the Dutch hit sensation Total Touch - featuring former Funky Stuff vocalist Trijntje Oosterhuis.
In early May '97 the album For the love of you is released. Again, fans line up to get their copies of the album; adding to the over two-and-a-half million albums she has already sold world wide. From May through November she performs nearly a hundred shows in fourteen countries, including a sell-out tour across Japan. She travels to the States in December for interviews, in-store appearances and an impressive live-on-TV jam at Sinbad's trendsetting talkshow "Vibe". Smooth jazz radio is all over the title track, while the album peaks at No. 2 on Billboard's Jazz Contemporary Albums chart and remains steadily positioned in the Top 10 for months.
In February of 1998 she kicks off the USA leg of her tour, which includes a show at the prestigious Beacon Theatre on Broadway. After many requests, she returns in the Summer for more shows, including the renowned JVC Jazz Festival at the Avery Fisher Hall in New York. Following the shows in the USA, Candy immediately leaves for an extensive, four-week tour of Europe.
While on holiday (her first in years) she receives a call from an old friend, Prince, who invites her to join his USA Tour. Candy joins him for his New Power Soul Festival Tour, with an impressive bill that also includes the musical legends Larry Graham and Chaka Khan. Candy joins the horn section of Graham Central Station for their set and also features prominently when Prince hits the stage. The tour - **** out of four according to USA Today - includes gigs at Madison Square Garden in New York and the MCI Center in Washington DC. During a break in the tour she incidentally bumps into the legendary group Blondie, who are recording their comeback album in New York. Candy contributes a smashing sax solo on one of the tracks. And at the end of 1998, when Prince returns to Europe to continue his tour, Candy is again invited to join him. On occassion Prince's regular concerts are followed by unannounced aftershows. Like at the Tivoli club in Utrecht, Holland, where Candy is able to show her stuff for her home crowd and jams with Prince, Larry Graham, daddy Hans Dulfer and surprise guest Lenny Kravitz 'till the wee small hours.
For her album Girls Night Out (released worldwide in 1999) she joins forces with some of the finest talents in the music business, including horn players Fred Wesley and Pee Wee Ellis (of JB's fame), jazz trumpeteer Arturo Sandoval, bass player Jerry Preston and popular smooth jazz artist Jonathan Butler. Mixing of the album takes place in the USA, where Candy works with top talents Booker T III and Ray Bardani in New York and Los Angeles. The album marks a return to the funky and danceable style that Candy is known and loved for, but she is obviously also highly influenced by newer styles like hip hop, house and jungle. The album includes the song "Cookie", one of the new tracks she recorded with old friend Dave Stewart for the soundtrack of Robert Altman's new motion picture "Cookie's Fortune".
After the album's release, Candy again tours across the world with her band Funky Stuff, performing dozens of highly successful shows in Japan, the USA and across Europe. In April 2000 Candy returns to Japan for a sell-out series of shows at the renowned Blue Note clubs in Osaka and Tokyo and through the Summer she performs across Europe.
In early October of that year she records her longawaited live album aptly titled Live in Amsterdam. The album, available on CD and DVD, features special guests Dave Stewart, soul diva Angie Stone and Hans Dulfer. Of course, Candy classics like "Lily was here", "Sax-a-go-go" and "Pick up the pieces" are included, but the album also features two brandnew songs, including a smashing new collaboration with Dave Stewart entitled "Synchrodestiny".
Preceeding the release of "Live in Amsterdam" in February 2001, she starts the year by performing five nights as part of the "Vrienden van Amstel Live" event at the Ahoy in Rotterdam, performing to a crowd of 10,000 each night. She also records a very special television show at the Paradiso in Amsterdam in front of a select crowd, performing not only with Funky Stuff but also with a string ensemble and special guests like Hammond-legend Joey DiFrancesco and her father, Hans Dulfer. Another highlight of 2001 is the brand new collaboration between Candy and Prince when she's invited by Prince to come to his Paisley Park studio in Minneapolis to perform on his upcoming album Xenophobia.
Candy kicks off 2002 with a Japanese Tour in February. In April she returns to the USA to join Prince on his critically acclaimed "One Nite Alone" Tour, playing to packed venues across the States. Not only does she get to perform alongside Maceo Parker in the horn section, she also jams with artists like Alicia Keys, Sheila E. and Erykah Badu at Prince's renowned aftershows. She's expected to join Prince for more shows later this year. With her band Funky Stuff Candy will tour all over Europe in the Summer, some shows will be on the same bill as Van Morrisson and Candy will play a show again with Dave Stewart. Furthermore her father Hans Dulfer will appear as a special guest on some of the shows. Also, she's completed a Duet album with her father Hans for Eagle records and her own solo album for the same album is scheduled for release in the Spring of 2003. Candy will also perform several gigs as a special guest with Van Morrisson during the rest of 2002.