Tuesday, 28 December 2010

How To Keep Your New Year's Resolutions

Do you make New Year's Resolutions?  I gave up making them a few years ago thinking that if I need to change something I can do it at anytime and shouldn't have to wait for January.  But they say a change is as good as a rest so on 1st January 2011 I've decided once again to make those promises that just beg to be broken...  To give myself a fighting chance I did some research into ways to help keep those promises.

According to various sources, there are 5 qualities that a successful resolution needs to have:

Specific: The desire to change is sometimes vague. Do some research and ask some important questions such as, "What risks am I running by going along just as I have been?"

Measurable: Weigh the benefits of change. Set small goals and monitor your behavior. For example, keep a record of how much you eat, drink, spend, etc.

Attainable: Begin making small changes. For example, you might give up some TV time and redirect your energy. Tell family and friends that the leopard is about to change his spots. Make a firm commitment.

Realistic: Banish and sacrifice vices while embracing and committing to new virtues. Give yourself all the help and support you can by creating a sense of accountability to others. Encourage family and friends to prod, provoke and push you.

Maintainable: This is the challenging part. You're finished with your old habit and into your new life. It is a lot easier to maintain your resolution than it is to regain it. Do your self a monumental favor and stay focused on WHY you set this resolution in the first place!

Those who stay the course and fulfill their resolutions share these characteristics:

1. They believe in their ability to change.
2. They did not indulge in self-blame or excuse making.
3. They avoid wishful thinking and concentrate on results.
4. They understand their motivators and reasons why the resolution is important.

And just because I love lists and Top 10s here are the

Top Ten Most Common Resolutions:

1.   Enjoy life more
2.   Get fit/Start exercising
3.   Lose weight
4.   Stop smoking
5.   Find true love
6.   Cut out alcohol
7.   Save money/Get out of debt
8.   Learn something new
9.   Help others/Become a volunteer
10. Get organised

Do any of these make it onto your list? Seven out of the Top Ten apply to me!


Saturday, 11 December 2010

Live Music and the Recession

I've just read an interesting article on Yahoo News that reports that revenue has fallen for touring bands this year.  When I said "interesting", what I meant was depressing!  Just last year, live gigs and selling merchandise was being touted as the saviour of the music business.  Yes, album sales were down with the increase in downloads but if musicians and bands were any good then they could prove their worth and increase their income by touring.  And personally I've found that live gigs are the only way to sell albums now with record shops having all closed down...  So what now?  Answers on a postcard please.  Or in the comments section at the end of this post. :-)

In other news...  I've just ordered my flyers!  Found a really great site called alocalprinter.com that produces eco-friendly flyers cheaply and efficiently.  Hopefully they'll arrive sometime next week.  Just in time really because most of the venues need them 6-8 weeks in advance of the performance date.  I've 13 dates in total now.  I was let down by 3 venues but thankfully found 3 more to replace them.  Just as well that 13 is my lucky number!  I'm really hoping that things turn around by next year for the live music industry or that someone comes up with an ingenious solution that will save my tour in the comment section below...  Here's the final list:

Juliet Kelly presents... Inspired: Celebrating the Divas of Jazz

Featuring George Moore - piano/arrangements, Oli Hayhurst/Dave Mannington - bass & Milo Fell - drums

06 Feb - Stratford Jazz, Stratford upon Avon 8pm

14 Feb - Royal Albert Hall (Elgar Room), London 8.30pm

17 Feb - Queen's Hall Arts Centre, Hexham 8pm

18 Feb - Voicebox, Derby 8pm

19 Feb - The Maltings, Berwick-upon-Tweed 7.30pm

24 Feb - The Hawth, Crawley 8.15pm

25 Feb - Camberwell Crypt, London 9.30pm

05 Mar - Jazz Cafe Posk, London 8.30pm

10 Mar - Joe's Bar & Grill, Oxford 8pm

17 Mar - Restormel Arts, St Austell 8pm

18 Mar - The Bebop Club, Bristol 9pm

19 Mar - Chapel Arts Centre, Bath 8pm

20 Mar - Ipswich Jazz Club, Ipswich 8pm

And December's Vocal Zone goes out tonight at 8pm on UK Jazz Radio.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Juliet Kelly's Vocal Zone - December Playlist

I'm loving being a presenter for UK Jazz Radio!  It's great to help in some small way to give current jazz vocalists more exposure.  In December's show I focus on singers I believe are underrated.  Here's the playlist:

December - Underated (on air from Sat 4th Dec)

Sheila Jordan – Little Song/Blackbird (Little Song – High Note)
Frank Holder – As Long As I Live (Ballads Blues Bop – Mainstem)
Christine Tobin – Bye Bye (Secret Life of A Girl – Babel)
Vanessa Rubin – Simone (Pastiche – Novus)
Vanessa Rubin – Tenderly (Soul Eyes – Novus)
Vanessa Rubin – Yardbird Suite (I’m Glad There is You: A Tribute to Carmen McRae – Novus)
Beady Belle – Apron Strings (Belvedere - Universal)
Carmen Lundy – Moment to Moment (Moment to Moment - Arabesque)
Jacqui Dankworth – Sign Your Name (Courtney Pine’s Devotion – Destin-E)
Sheila Jordan – If I Should Lose You (Little Song – High Note)

For January's show the theme will be British vocalists.

Juliet Kelly's Vocal Zone - November Playlist

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Making Money From Music or 1,000 True Fans

I was a member of a panel last Monday at an event that was part of the London Jazz Festival organised by the Musicians' Union.  The topic was Marketing and Promoting Your Music and it turned out to be a very interesting and lively discussion.  Other panel members were David Jones (Promoter, Serious), Kit Downes (Musician, Kit Downes Trio), Steve Rubie (606 Club owner), Rick Finlay (Musician, Just East) and the panel was chaired very successfully by Dave Webster from the MU.  (If you're not a member of the MU, I'd urge you to become one.  They run lots of interesting free events like these.)

One of the ideas I brought up was the concept of "1,000 true fans" which I think is especially important in the niche genre of jazz.  Everybody has been talking about "the long tail" - the ability of music outlets to increase sales in the digital age because they have an endless catalogue with a huge amount of sales although most individual items are selling in very small amounts.

Although good news for the likes of Amazon, unfortunately this doesn't mean much for the thousands of jazz musicians who are selling very few CDs.  All it does is increase competition and reduce prices and therefore income.

The 1,000 True Fans idea argues that an artist only has to acquire one thousand real fans to make a living.  A "true fan" is someone who will buy every album you produce, go to as many gigs as possible even if it means travelling over long distances, buy any merchandise you produce and tell everyone they know (by word of mouth and online through social networking etc) just how fantastic you are!  Perhaps you have some of these wonderful people already but increasing that number to one thousand would ensure that you could make a reasonable living from your music.

But how do we attract these fans?  For me, the only answer is one by one.  I don't have the money or support of a record label to launch a PR and marketing campaign.  This means that I need to connect to every fan individually and directly.  If you show your fans that they are important to you and that their support and opinions count, eventually you will convert casual fans into "true fans".  Of course the downside of this is that you'll have less time to devote to your music.  Nurturing fans takes quite a bit of time.  It means staying engaged by responding quickly to all emails sent to you by fans through your website, setting up and monitoring accounts on myspace, facebook and twitter etc.  Most importantly, it means giving your time and energy at gigs by chatting to the audience members and signing CDs both during the intervals and at the end of the night (when really all you might feel like doing is collapsing in a heap somewhere with a large glass of something).  But I think it's worth it.  Do you?

More in-depth analysis of the concept here.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Juliet Kelly's Vocal Zone

My first radio show airs this Saturday at 8pm on the internet jazz radio station UK Jazz Radio!

Here's the official blurb:

Vocal Zone is jazz singer and songwriter Juliet Kelly’s new monthly show on UK Jazz Radio and will reflect the vocal contribution to the current vibrant jazz scene both in the UK and abroad.   Although acknowledging the great debt today’s singers owe to the jazz icons of the past, she will be focussing mainly on present-day established and rising stars.  Juliet is also keen to introduce you to under-rated and up-and-coming singers who have yet to hit the radar.

For the first show the theme was Standards and I played tracks by established artists from mostly the US although there were a couple from UK singers too.  The overall theme for Vocal Zone is to promote current artists, and hopefully encourage people to discover and support singers new to them by going out to see them live when they are performing nearby.

November Playlist - Standards:

Cassandra Wilson – Polkadots and Moonbeams (Cassandra Sings Standards – Verve)
Dianne Reeves – Exactly Like You  (That Day – Blue Note)
Tina May – Darn That Dream  (Fun – 33 Records)
Carmen Lundy – My Favourite Things  (Self Portrait – JVC)
Lizz Wright – I’m Confessin’  (Dreaming Wide Awake – Verve)
Liane Carroll – How Insensitive (ft John Parricelli & Bobby Wellins)  (Standard Issue – Splashpoint)
Patricia Barber – Bye Bye Blackbird  (Nightclub – Blue Note)
Dee Dee Bridgewater – Pretty Eyes  (Love and Peace – Verve)
Kurt Elling – I Like The Sunrise  (Nightmoves – Concord)

Next month the theme will be "Under-rated".  I will be playing tracks from vocalists I feel deserve more exposure/recognition.  Sadly it seems as if it's always the same voices that get airtime or column inches.  I'm not saying these singers are not deserving but why not spread the love!  It's the same story with instrumental bands but as this radio show is called Vocal Zone I'll reserve that argument for another time. :-)   One of the tracks I'll be playing in the next show is from an album by Christine Tobin.  It's a crime that it took SO long for her to eventually get a BBC Jazz Award in 2004.  She didn't win but she was nominated once again in 2008.  I'm not sure when she started singing but I know that when I was starting out in the mid-90's she was already an outstanding artist and it wasn't until a decade later that her talent was recognised by the "tastemakers".  Happily, Christine won the award second time round but jokes that she "put the kibosh on it" as that was also the year the BBC decided to stop sponsoring what was arguably one of the most respected awards in jazz...

But November is also the month of the London Jazz Festival to which the BBC still lends its support and long may that continue...  There are some fabulous bands to go and see between 12-21 November.  Sadly I'm not performing this year (sob!) but I'll will be showing my support by going out to see some great gigs starting with the Jazz on 3 Launch of the festival at Ronnie Scott's on Friday.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Gig Checklist (or Procrastination is the Thief of Time)

Last week I pre-recorded my first show for UK Jazz Radio.  Should be hitting the airwaves soon - will keep you posted!

I haven't completed all the "homework" for this week though...  When you were at school/college studying, did you ever do that thing where you procrastinated by buying and arranging new files or arranging folders on your computer and changing your desktop or screensaver instead of doing any real work?  Makes you feel as if you're doing something to get organised but in reality not much gets done!  Well, I've had that sort of week...  So I thought I'd post my efforts in creating an excellent gig checklist so that you'll have no excuse when it comes to arranging YOUR gigs/tour! :-D  Feel free to copy and share.

Gig Checklist





Marketing contact

Technical contact/
Sound engineer


Box office tel/
Ticket price

Fee/Guarantee/Door Split

Payment arrangements

Merchandise sales

Photo & copy deadline/

Number of flyers/posters

Parking and loading

Local newspaper contacts

Local radio contacts

Soundcheck time/
Doors open

Set times




Travel directions

Friday, 22 October 2010

Jazz on the Airwaves

Yesterday I attended the relaunch party and one year anniversary of UK Jazz Radio.  It was so wonderful to see the support for what is sadly one of the few media outlets for jazz in this country.  There was great music from Digby Fairweather and his band and guest spots included appearances from the excellent Geoff Eales, the fabulous Tina May and a wonderful singer I'd not heard before called Val Wiseman.

BBC Radio does a fairly good job but obviously they need to cater to all tastes and can't be expected to play jazz 24/7.  Here's a useful page where you can find a summary of the jazz on BBC Radio. Looking through this list though we can see that they've also included blues in this list and also that a lot of the programmes are general music programmes that aren't averse to adding jazz tracks to the playlist rather than playing jazz exclusively. 

Then there's Jazz FM...  After the demise of theJazz - a new station that only lasted 2 years - I was so excited to hear in 2008 that Jazz FM was back on the airwaves after its ambush and takeover by Smooth FM.  Sadly, however, it's no longer available on FM (regular radio) and can only be heard online or on DAB (digital radio) in restricted areas.  On a positive note though, apparently it's available using iPhone or Google android apps too. 

So with the lack of dedicated jazz on the radio,  I'm really hoping that all lovers of jazz will get behind and give massive support to UK Jazz Radio - a new internet radio station - that devotes itself completely to jazz and has already attracted 600,000 listeners worldwide.  Founder and one-man operator Brian Soundy has worked tirelessly to get the station up and running and the presenters have given their time to promote and support jazz in the UK.  Please listen to the excellent programmes and most of all SPREAD THE WORD!

(I have to declare an interest here...  I'm one of 9 new presenters to the station and will be starting my "Juliet Kelly's Vocal Zone" programme soon to highlight the wealth of vocal talent on the current jazz scene.  It goes without saying that we are all indebted to the icons of the past like Ella, Sarah, Nina and Bille but I'm hoping to introduce listeners to singers who are currently continuing the tradition and/or pushing the boundaries to contribute to the vibrant and evolving jazz scene today.  I'll post details of the first programme soon.)

In other news...  I've been a bit slack recently with working on the tour but during the last week I've:
  • Worked on the press release - almost finished.
  • Confirmed all dates with promoters (apart from one.  Hmm....at this late stage it's doubtful that I'll be able to replace it as I did with the other two.)
  • Previewed the material at the Pizza Express.  Just a few rough edges that need to be sorted before we take it on tour.  On the whole though I'm very pleased!
Next week I'll be:
  • Making sure that I've sent all necessary information to each promoter/venue for brochures/websites/programmes.
  • Researching contacts for local newspapers and radio stations for the areas I'll be visiting.
I'll also be recording my first radio show and working on another couple of new projects.  More news soon.

If I've missed any jazz radio programmes on other independent stations please feel free to post them below.  It would be great to have a comprehensive list of all the jazz radio shows in the UK.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Getting the Word Out

I've had a good, although very busy, week.  First of all disaster struck on Wednesday when two of the gigs I'd had pencilled for the tour fell through so I had to frantically search around to replace them.  This was obviously made a lot more difficult as they had to be on the exact date of the lost gigs to fill the slots and also be geograhically feasible.  Anyway, the good news is that I managed to fill both gaps!  It will mean we'll be doing a lot of travelling but I think it will be worth it. 

I've edited my blurb for the tour down to a 100-word paragraph and chosen the photos but I still need to write my press release to send to local newspapers and radio stations.  I've started sending the brochure copy off to the arts centres as they print these so far in advance.

I've also started researching the local press but will be contacting the individual promoters to ask for their list of contacts as it's always good if you have an actual name rather than just the name of the publication or radio station.  Most local papers are weekly though so I won't need to send that info off until nearer the time but for the national periodicals like Jazz UK and Jazzwise, I'll be sending the press release (when I've written it!) off fairly soon as their deadlines are much earlier. 

I had a bit of a shock this week when one of the arts centres sent their publicity request through and they require 750 flyers and 50 posters!  The funny thing is that so often I've sent off reams of flyers and posters months before only to arrive at the venue for the gig and find that not even ONE poster has gone up!!!   But I've found an excellent company that does reasonably priced flyers and it's a lot more cost-effective to produce larger numbers so it probably won't impact on my slender budget as much as I'd thought.

Hotels were also on my list this week.  Saw an ad for mega cheap rooms in Travelodge or Premier Inn if you booked early enough.  But when I looked at the actual hotels in the areas I need they looked a bit grim so I spent hours trying to find cute, rustic B&B's near the venues.  I've found a gorgeous one in Berwick upon Tweed where we'll stay for our gig at The Maltings.  After travelling for hours and arriving at a picturesque location, I think it would be rather demoralising to end up staying at a Travelodge.  It may cost a little bit more but I think I've made the right decision... at least I hope so!

Also had some VERY exciting news this week connected with a new project.  But I'll leave that until another time. :-)

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

10 Tips to Improve Your Voice and Become a Better Singer

I came to singing quite late compared to most.  No school or church choir for me.  So when I started studying jazz singing at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, I became very quickly aware of just how much I didn't know!  But I was a quick learner and soon got to the stage where I was passing on my newly acquired knowledge in workshops and adult education classes as well as private singing lessons.  I stopped teaching a couple of years ago but am often asked for lessons from singers who have come to see me perform or visited my website.  I don't really have much time for teaching these days so thought I'd pass on these tips to help singers and would-be singers improve and make the best of their voices. 

1.  Breathing:  I know it sounds boring but breathing really is the cornerstone of all singing.  Or maybe I should phrase that differently...  It's really all about breath control.  The most common mistake seen with novice singers is that when they take a deep breath, they end up with their shoulders around their ears.  Most of the expansion should take place in the lower part of the chest and this is known as diaphragmatic breathing.  Sounds complicated but in simple terms it is just making sure that your lungs fill up from the bottom first and on no account should those shoulders be raised.  Also be careful that you're not holding your stomach in.  So often we try to flatten our stomachs by holding them in (especially if there's a bit of excess baggage in that area!) but to breathe correctly, especially at the beginning, we really need to let it all hang out!  A good exercise is to practise deep breathing whilst lying flat on the floor which prevents shoulders from raising as we breathe in.  After you have mastered diaphragmatic breathing you will then move on to controlling the flow of air and soon you'll be able to impress with those super long notes!

2.  Mirror:  I could also have called this tip Posture but I've called it mirror because if you're on your own you'll need a mirror to check your posture and the position of your mouth and jaw.  Shoulders need to be relaxed and down, weight ideally balanced (no hunching and no putting most of your weight on one foot!) and the mouth needs to be open fairly wide with the jaw relaxed.  This is the position that should be adopted for vocal exercises.  We'll come to those later.

3.  Relax:  This follows on from the point about the shoulders - keep them back and down.  But the throat, jaw and chest also need to be relaxed.  I know - it's easier said than done!  If there's tension in your throat you'll end up straining your voice.  In most cases, if your throat hurts when you sing, then you're doing something wrong.

4.  Listen:  It always surprises me how little time singers who are just starting out devote to listening to other singers and instrumentalists.  In jazz this is doubly important - in fact I'd say it's mandatory.  As I mentioned earlier, I starting singing quite late and I'd never listened to jazz much before I started singing it.  But I made up for that by listening to the greats like Ella Fitgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Carmen McRae, Billie Holiday, Nina Simone etc etc for hours upon end.  I also listened to instrumentalists like Horace Silver, Miles Davis, Cannonball Adderley, Lee Morgan, Herbie Hancock and many more.  Most importantly, get out and go and see today's artists performing live.  On that note (ahem), this link takes you to a list of my upcoming gigs. :-) Juliet Kelly Live  And if you're a jazz singer, please remember that you also need to go and listen to instrumentalists as well as singers. 

5.  Record Yourself:  I know it's painful sometimes but it really helps A LOT to listen to recordings and or videos of yourself singing.  It helps you to hear where you're going wrong as it's sometimes difficult to tell "in the moment".  And if nothing else, it will be a record of how much you've improved a few months down the line!

6.  Lyrics:  For me, performance is equally as important as vocal technique.  And as a singer, if you only pay attention to the melody, tone and rhythm you may sound amazing but this may be at the expense of making a connection with the audience.  Of course your technique matters and a great tone and a beautiful sounding instrument is important but as a singer you have the bonus of being able to communicate to the audience with lyrics.  To make the most of this, think about the lyrics and the meaning of them and use this to inform the choices you make about your tone and phrasing.   

7.  Find A Teacher:  This is not always absolutely necessary but if you intend to sing professionally, I would advise going to see a vocal coach or singing teacher at some point.  It's probably most useful at the beginning as it stops you getting into bad habits but can also be useful later on to move your technique to the next level.  Always get a recommendation as, like anything else, there are a lot of bad teachers out there as well as good ones.

8.  Quit:  Okay - I know this won't be popular but if you're a smoker, it really will help your voice if you quit smoking.  There are a lucky few who can smoke 50-a-day and still have a beautiful tone and powerful lungs but these are very few and far between.  Why not quit for 3 months and then if you really don't see any improvement in your breathing, your range or tone then start smoking again... ;-)

9.  Find Your Own Style:  When we first start out it makes sense for us to emulate the singers we love and that's totally fine.  But there will come a time when, to stand out from the crowd, you'll need to develop your own style.  Everyone has a different physical and psychological make up - why not make your unique sound your strength rather than trying to sound like someone else? 

10.  Practice:  Couldn't leave this obvious one out!  Little and often is more effective than getting all enthusiastic and doing 3 hours one day and then leaving it for a couple of weeks. Try to do at least 10mins a day to start off with.  There are some excellent free videos on YouTube.

Wow!  That turned out to be a lot longer than I thought it would be but I hope you've found some useful information here.  Please feel free to comment and/or add your own tips.  And please don't hesitate to ask any questions and I will do my best to answer!

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Pay What You Want

I discovered two great blogs by musicians yesterday.  Both highly recommended!

The first is by the wonderful UK guitarist Mike Outram who writes a funny and insightful blog about music and life in general.  I've had the pleasure of working with Mike and although I knew he was an amazing musician, I never realised he was such a great writer until I discovered his blog...

The second was recommended by Mike and is from a US trumpeter called Jason Parker.  In his One Working Musician blog he writes about the daily life of a musician and chronicles his  "path to self-sufficiency" and  "thoughts on how to live a creative, art-centered life".

In one post, Jason mentions a Pay-What-You-Want system which was something I tried when selling my Licorice Kiss albums during my Arts Council sponsored tour last year.  I was a bit nervous about it at first and became even more so when a student at one gig offered me just £1.94 (the change he had in his pocket) for the album I'd been used to asking £10 for!  But strangely enough when I worked it all out at the end of the tour, I'd managed to shift an average of 10 CDs per gig which worked out to about £9.50 per album.  And I'm pretty sure that a lot of those sales wouldn't have happened at all had I stuck to my £10 per CD pricing.  In the end, most people paid £10 for it.  I also made sure to point out at the time that it was more about "Pay What You Think It's Worth" rather than "Pay What You Want" which probably accounted for those sales where people paid £15 and sometimes even £20.  Anyway, it all worked out in the end and I was one happy bunny! :-D

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Getting It In Writing

I received my official offer letter today from Jazz Services so my next task is to confirm all the dates that were pencilled.  And most importantly, I need to get everything confirmed  in writing by the venue or promoter. 

More than once I've come to that moment at the end of the gig when you're uncomfortably waiting around to get paid and there's been a "misunderstanding" about the fee.  Sometimes it's a difference of opinion about how much was to paid or it could be how and when it is paid and sometimes even by whom!  To prevent any such misunderstandings it's always better to get things in writing, preferably a Musicians' Union contract but at least an email.

So, next on my list is getting contracts sorted - sending my version if the venues/promoters don't do their own.  And for the arts centres/theatres on my list it's also the time to start submitting copy and photos for their brochures.  Because they work so far ahead and tend to print booklets for seasons, the copy deadlines can be very early. 

By the end of this week I'll aim to get the basic blurb for the show completed and choose which photos I'm going to send.  Photos need to be high res versions (300dpi minimum) and it helps to have a couple of choices as in portrait or landscape so that it can fit in with the venue's brochure style.

Okay - enough of this seriousness...  On a completely random and frivolous note - here's a pic of my new Lulu Guinness handbag.  I LOVE it! xx

Monday, 27 September 2010

The Business of Music

I had a lovely day today as I concentrated mainly on music -  rather than the business of music.

Had a great session with my pianist George where we worked on the arrangements of some new songs and they're sounding great!  Really looking forward to performing them at our first outing of the new Diva project in October at the Pizza Express Jazz Club in Soho.

But although it's not something I really enjoy,  I also need to keep on top of the business side of things.  Someone who has helped a lot of musicians with this is Derek Sivers, the founder of CDBaby.  (If you've not heard of them, check them out.  Apart from anything else they are a great way to get your albums up on iTunes and they only take a 9% cut.)  Here's a link to an interesting article with his 7 Rules of Marketing.  Numbers 5 & 7 especially strike a chord with me. 


Sunday, 26 September 2010

How to Plan and Carry Out a Successful Jazz Tour

Okay - I've decided what I want to write about.  The title of this post is perhaps a bit of wishful thinking at this point as I'm far from sure that the tour will be a successful one!  But I thought it might be helpful to myself and others to document my journey - setting up, marketing and carrying out a jazz tour in the UK. 

I've completed five UK tours in the past.  For three of them I've had help from Jazz Services and for the other two, I've been fortunate enough to receive an Arts Council award.  My last UK tour was at the end of 2009 where I promoted my latest album, Licorice Kiss.  Although up to now I've mainly concentrated on writing, performing and recording my own original songs, my latest project is going to concentrate mainly on jazz standards.  I've called it "Inspired: Celebrating the Divas of Jazz" and it will feature new arrangements of songs from the jazz singers past and present who have inspired and influenced me.  I'll also include specially written songs alongside those of  the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone, Norma Winstone and Cassandra Wilson,

So... to get you up-to-date, here's a short summary of what I've been up to over the last few months:

April-July 2009
  • Called up various promoters throughout the UK to ask if I could send them info about my new project
  • Checked availability dates with my band  (can be problematic - especially if like me your band is comprised of excellent in-demand musicians!)
  • Sent an email with a few paragraphs about the project and proposed dates with an attached mp3 of the band
  • About a week later, followed up the email with a call to see if they've had a chance to listen (at this stage, barring a couple of exceptions, most of them hadn't)
  • Another follow up call 10 days later.  Tried to get an idea if they were interested and attempted to get either a booking or a pencilled date if they were.
  • And repeat...  and repeat...  and repeat...
August 2009
  • Filled in my Jazz Services touring support application form.  (Important to get this in before the deadline and to read guidance notes carefully.)
  • Waited to hear decision about grant...
September 2009
  • Got news of successful application.  Yay!  I didn't receive all the money I asked for as funds were very tight and quality of applicants very high but it's great to have help to make this tour happen!
Next on To-Do List: 
  • Confirm pencilled dates and confirm dates with band
  • Write press release for tour
  • The music!  Never as much time as I would like for this but need to write some new songs and work on new arrangements with my pianist George
If you have any comments, tips, suggestions or questions I'd love to hear from you.  I'll try to help you if I can and will of course appreciate any help from other bloggers, musicians, fans, journalists, etc etc...


I'm here.  I've been told I should have a proper blog.  I suppose I've always known it but have resisted for a very long time.  I'll try to come up with something interesting to say here in the days to come.  I'll try...  Please bear with me.  I'm new to this!