She is one of our most talented singers. Her strong, rich voice, sometimes melancholically soft, sometimes harsh, is well known mainly from the Spirituál kvintet ensemble. In contrast, her music evenings in theatres, concert halls or churches are completely different. Musical lovers can hardly forget her in the role of the Beggar in the musical Bastard, or in the role of Mother in both the musicals The Midsummer Night’s Dreams and Babylon. Radio Prague listeners know her voice from the Wednesday program Let’s Talk about Music in which she sometimes takes part.
After her studies of professional singing, which were more of a complement to her inborn talent, she extended her vocal range from alto to mezzo-soprano. She could be heard in many European countries, but also in the USA, Canada, Chile, on Easter Island or in Australia. She has been a member of the band Spirituál kvintet since 1980. At that time she also started her studies at the Secondary School of Performing Arts in Prague, with Professor Alena Pařízková and Professor Laďka Kozderková. These studies developed her natural talent and you can hear the results not only in her recordings with Spirituál kvintet but also in her solo projects (the CDs Blue Soul – nominated for the Jazzový Kája prize in 1993, Svlíkání z kůže, Moment, Korýši času).
She has also recorded with the bands ASPM, Rangers, and Josef Vejvoda’s Big Band, and she features on a CD with songs from the musicals Bastard, Babylon etc. In 1992, she participated in the world premiere of The Midsummer Night’s Dreams, produced by Stanislav Moša and Zdenek Merta, at the Křižík fountain in Prague; in the years 1994 – 1996 she appeared in the scenic oratorio Bastard on the stage of the Prague National Theatre, and since the year 1998, she has acted in the musical Babylon performed by Brno City Theatre. Radio listeners could also hear her in her own programmes on Radio Golem and Radio ČR. She recorded an hour-long recital, Svlíkám si kůži, and sang in the performances Díra – The Hole, Marné cesty holubů and Smrt krásné dívky – Death of a Beautiful Girl.
Dr. Lubomír Dorůžka wrote about her: “Irena Budweiserová can overcome style and genre borders without losing her own distinctive personality. Be it spirituals or the classic repertoire of evergreens, she is controlled in her expression, without showy elements. Instead of this, reliable professionalism radiates from every tone, which offers a pleasant experience”. Aleš Benda ranks her among singers such as Billie Holiday, Carmen McRae or Abbey Lincoln who use their talent to tell stories or express an opinion via their formulations.
Apart from her work with the quintet, she has been involved in activities as a soloist. She has begun cooperating with excellent jazz musicians. First with Luděk Švábenský and Pavel Husička, then with Petr Malásek, Franta Kop, Vít Fiala and Jarda Šindler. These musicians, together with Peter Binder, Michal Gera, Leoš Kuba, Ivan Myslikovjan and others, have either worked with Irena in the past or are still working with her on their projects today. She was also a professor at the Ježek Secondary School of Performing Arts in Prague, and in the year 2000, she recorded her latest solo CD album, Korýši času, for the company Indies Records, and she presented her programme Let’s Talk About Music broadcast on Radio ČR 2 Praha.
At present, she sings with the band Spirituál kvintet, her own band Fade In, and she participates in the musicals Svět plný andělů – World Full of Angels and Babylon by Moša and Merta at Brno City Theatre. In 2003, she acted in the project Romeo and Juliet, a musical performed in winter stadiums around the Czech Republic, and she issued a solo album Někdy si připadám jak pták – Sometimes I Feel Like a Bird.