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Farewell to a much-loved friend

Wed 14 Jul 2010 In: Hall of Fame View at NDHA

Sue Dunlop Tributes are flowing for a woman who was known as much for her music, as her fierce friendship and beautiful laughter. Wellington singer-songwriter Sue Dunlop died on Sunday night after a brief battle with cancer, at the age of just 51. She sang, played the guitar and bass and was known for her Friday night performances as the Dragon Bar on Courtenay Place, which featured everything from sing-a-longs to squeaky toy solos. Napier-born, Dunlop cut her teeth as a musician playing bass in a number of bands in Hawke's Bay and Wellington from as early as 1976 – and claimed to be New Zealand's first female professional bass guitarist. She went solo in the late 80s and released her debut album in 1992, a live recording called Better Than Normal, which followed a solo cabaret-style show with the same name, where she introduced the character "Lezzie Presley". In 2005 she released the albumRandom Deviations. Dunlop was also a stage performer; she was a member of the lauded women's comedy troupe Hen's Teeth from 1989 and performed in the comedy spoof show The Truth About Love from 2003. A review in the Evening Post describes Dunlop as singing with power and clarity, saying she "has the ability to switch from humour to pathos without pulling out all the sentimental stops". Dunlop is described by friends as having many wonderful qualities, including a kind and incredibly generous nature. Longtime friend Anne Russell met her as a colleague around 28 years ago. She says the musician had a talent for making and keeping friendships. "She was still friends and organising things with people she went to school with. She's one of those people who gathers friends and keeps them. And was still really good friends with a woman she met at kindergarten, age three." Russell says Dunlop always fought for what she believed in. "She went for what she wanted to do and what was important to her. And therefore she achieved a lot in her life, of her dreams." Dunlop was a volunteer on the AsiaPacific Outgames team, helping it work towards the event in Wellington next March. Co-chair David Hindley says Dunlop was volunteering in the arts and culture area of the Outgames. "She was very active in the performing arts programme. She was talking to a number of performers and a number of organisations and put a lot of energy into it. And so she'll be a real loss to us." Hindley says Dunlop was very active in the Wellington community for a long time. "She'll not only be a real loss to us, but the entire community. She was someone that was held in very high regard." Hindley says the musician was a very 'real' performer on stage. "She just opened up to who she was. It wasn't a kind of manufactured performance. She was talented and it was just great to listen to her." Sue Dunlop leaves behind her partner Fran Hoover and a family who loved her dearly. Her funeral service will be held at The Pines, Houghton Bay on Thursday 15 July at 2pm, followed by a private cremation. In lieu of flowers, donations to the Mary Potter Hospice or the SPCA would be appreciated. If you would like to share your memories of and tributes to Sue Dunlop, please email or add them to ourforum. A tribute book has also been set uphere     Jacqui Stanford - 14th July 2010

Credit: Jacqui Stanford

First published: Wednesday, 14th July 2010 - 10:56am

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