Renaissance are an English progressive rock band, best known for their 1978 UK top 10 hit ''Northern Lights'' and progressive rock classics like ''Carpet of the Sun'', ''Mother Russia'', and ''Ashes Are Burning''. They developed a unique sound, combining a female lead vocal with a fusion of classical, folk, rock, and jazz influences. Characteristic elements of the Renaissance sound are Annie Haslam's wide vocal range, prominent piano accompaniment, orchestral arrangements, vocal harmonies, acoustic guitar, bass guitar, synthesiser, and versatile drum work. The band created a significant following in the northeast United States in the 70s, and that region remains their strongest fan base.
The original line-up included two former members of The Yardbirds, Keith Relf and Jim McCarty, along with John Hawken, Louis Cennamo and Relf's sister Jane Relf. They intended to put ''something together with more of a classical influence''. Renaissance was born, and the band released a studio album in 1969, and another in 1971. Subsequently, John Tout replaced Hawken on keyboards, followed by a period of high turnover of musicians until the ''classic line-up'' of Haslam, John Tout, Michael Dunford, Jon Camp, and Terry Sullivan was established, although none of them was in the original band. They were assisted with lyrics on many songs from Cornish poet Betty Thatcher-Newsinger. From 1972 to 1979 Renaissance released seven successful studio albums, toured extensively, and sold out three nights in a row at Carnegie Hall with Tony Cox conducting the New York Philharmonic.
The 80s were a lean time for them, with personnel changes, and two relatively unsuccessful studio albums, leading to disbandment in 1987. Two different offshoots of Renaissance existed at the same time at one stage in the mid-90s. The band re-formed in 1998 to record Tuscany, which was eventually released in 2001; however they disbanded again the next year.
2009 heralded a new line-up for Renaissance, led by Haslam and Dunford, and since then the band has continued to record and tour. They were shocked and saddened by the sudden death of Dunford in November 2012. Later, Haslam stated that the band would continue touring. The current line-up is not as English as the band's early period, with five U.S.-born members and one English-born member who lives in the U.S. In April 2014 Renaissance released the studio album Symphony of Light. [wikipedia.org]