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Sunday, 2 December 2012

"It's Christmas time, bells are ringing again..."

TODAY is the biggest day for me in my professional music career.

Over the last 5 months, I have been writing, recording and publicising a project which has not only taken over my waking life but also my dreams and subconscious thoughts!  Every bike ride has been accompanied by tubular bells; every post office trip, a shaking of sleigh bells.  And it has all been working towards this day, when everything is finally in place.

It's the release of my Christmas song - Let the Light Shine Down - which has been recorded by the children at my primary school in Bermondsey.  The children are from an under-privileged area, so having the experience of going to the BBC studios (meeting John Major - although none of them knew who he was of course!), being featured on a YouTube video, and having the chance to sing on the stage at Westfield in Stratford has been an enriching part of their primary education.

At the BBC studios - getting excited about recording.

We are selling the song to raise money for a music charity - Music as Therapy International - which works with teachers and carers to provide musical therapy for disabled children and adults.

Our aim is to sell 3,000 copies this week - this will mean that we make enough money from single sales  (the song only costs 99p) to make a decent donation to the charity, and also have a chance of getting into the UK top 40, thereby continuing the amazing experience for these primary school children.

So please consider buying a copy, and spreading the word around with your friends and colleagues - particularly people who are involved in the music business for whom this cause is so relevant.

You can buy it on iTunes for 99p:

Thank you so much, and happy December!

Saturday, 1 December 2012

A Christmas ditty.


TOMORROW I'm releasing a Christmas song!  It has been 12 months in the making - from writing a simple melody at the school piano last December, to recording the band, recording the children, and organising more trips than I can count!

The project is to sell enough copies of this single to raise money for the charity Music as Therapy International.  We need to sell about 3,000 - so please buy one and tell all your friends about it!  If we sell this many, we should be able to make it into the UK TOP 40, so all your support would be truly appreciated!

Have a listen on YouTube:

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

A short tour in numbers...

From Thursday 25th October - Wednesday 31st October...

6: Counties played in.
22: Counties travelled through.
7: Gigs played.
5: Different ensembles played with.
3: Tunes relating to Hallowe'en played.
1: Hats knitted.
2: Balls of wool purchased.
4: Blog entries written.
52: Photos taken.
57: Times I've listened to the Christmas song (whilst making the promotional video on YouTube - see what all my effort has produced!:
1. New songs learnt (Bouncin with Bud.  Thanks, Dan! - it's hard!!)
5. Beds slept in.
1. Coaches slept on.

Photographic evidence follows:
Pre-gig dinner with the band in Barnstaple

On stage at the Barnstaple Fringe Festival

Strange backdrop at our gig in Monmouthshire!

Dan Whieldon and me at Smith's restaurant, Eccles

The hat is finished!

Top 10... I need your likes on Facebook!

No top 10 this month... not because I can't think of anything, but mainly because the only thing occupying my mind is my Christmas song!  So if you could take a minute to go on Facebook and like our page, and watch the video on YouTube, that would be much appreciated!

2012 Charity Christmas Song

This year, I'm releasing a Christmas song for charity.  It's called Let the Light Shine Down, and I have recorded it with the children from the primary school where I'm working at the moment.

It'll be released on 2nd December 2012 and I urge you to buy it when it's ready!!  It'll be a digital release only, and all the proceeds will go to Music as Therapy.  We're hoping to get into the UK top 40 for the first week of December.  Please help this to happen!

You can start by connecting to our online sites:

Thank you!!

Thursday, 18 October 2012


Lovely friend Daisy Coole is launching her cake-baking business on Sunday, at a charity tea party.  Here's the info:


On Sunday, 21st October 2012, Hampstead cake company Coole Cakes will host a ‘Mad Hatter’s Tea Party’ in aid of Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity.

From 3pm to 5pm at the Kentish Town Community Centre in Busby Place, children and adults alike will be able to drop in for a delicious array of cake, cupcakes and bite-size treats.

The Tea Party shows support for National Baking Week (15th – 21st October) during which cake enthusiasts across the country will be asked to bake and sell scrumptious treats to raise vital funds for Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity.

Daisy Coole, founder of Coole Cakes says:

“I can’t think of a better way to launch our business than by supporting National Baking Week and Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity. We hope to raise lots of money for a wonderful cause.”

Hayley Richardson, Senior Fundraising Executive at Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity says:

“We’re delighted to be teaming up with National Baking Week this year and would like to thank Coole Cakes for organising the Tea Party. The money from National Baking Week will make a real difference to patients at Great Ormond Street Hospital by helping us to deliver our world class care in 21stcentury facilities. We are improving our facilities and increasing our capacity so we can treat more children.”

For more information on National Baking Week 2012 please or the work of Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity, visit:

Monday, 15 October 2012

The Sector7 tour commences

Sector7 on the road

The Sector7 tour is underway!  So far we have been to the  Scarborough, Leeds, South Devon, Cheltenham and Milton Keynes. 

Scarborough was amazing and thank goodness the weather was good.  The last time I had been there, the sea was so violent that waves had been crashing over the entire car park after our gig, and we had to leg it to the car to not get drenched (it didn’t work).

A stroll on the beach - the next album cover?!
I have to say that this was one of the best jazz festivals I have ever played at, and credit to Mike Gordon for organising such a fantastic weekend of acts and bringing jazz to a wider audience in Yorkshire.  The place was packed throughout the whole weekend, and it was a pleasure to play there.

Scarborough was the first gig for two new Sector7 members: Mayfair Arts Club resident Paddy Clarke and beatboxer Billy Boothroyd.  We incorporated beatbox for the first time in the set… which was brilliant!  And went down really well.  It took some people by surprise but I think, hope, that they loved it as much as I did!  We were interviewed later for a feature on the festival, and there may be some footage up on the web soon, so I’ll add it to the facebook page when it comes out.

After staying the night in Scarborough we took advantage of being in a classic seaside town, spending our morning on the 2p machines in the arcade and getting ice cream.  Then it was a journey to Leeds – which is relatively short – so we decided to explore north Yorkshire with a stop-off in gorgeous York, for a stroll down The Shambles and a look at the Minster. 

York Minster
Our gig in Leeds was at the Sela bar, which is a hip underground bar with an old-school vibe and the best pizza in town. 

The following weekend we travelled down to South Devon to my old stomping ground.  My Grandma lived in Dawlish, a very sweet little seaside town on the South Devon coast, and Ashburton is about 20 miles inland, on the edge of Dartmoor.  We were playing at the St Lawrence Chapel, a concert venue promoted by local musician Andy Williamson.  It was a fantastic night, not least because we were treated to a home-cooked meal from Andy’s wife (including the best cheese-cake I’ve had in years!)

The Daffodil.  This view is from behind one of the old
cinema projectors - both antiques are still in situ in
the gallery.
Next day we travelled to The Daffodil in Cheltenham, a converted cinema, now a posh restaurant.   They promote jazz every Monday, and attract some fantastic acts from all over the country.   Then this small section of the tour ended with our first ever performance at The Stables in Wavendon.  I’ve performed there before, with NYJO at one of the “Jazz in the garden” events.  We were lucky enough to have Sir John join the band for a number of tunes.  This was couple of years before his death, and even as an octogenarian, he was as sprightly and amusing as ever.

The tour continues on WEDNESDAY at Swansea Jazzland, followed by The Pound Arts Centre in Corsham on Thursday.

September gigs

SEH September Experience

The SEH experience in September started with a gig at Huddersfield jazz club, with Dave O’Higgins joining my Northern quartet for the night.  I love doing gigs with Dave – he’s played on both my albums and we’ve developed a great way of playing together over the years.  Book us for a gig here! 

Blurry pic, but believe me it's Dave O'Higgins!
My big band had a gig at Ruislip Sports and social club the following day, and considering that my Saturday night was spent sitting on a megabus from Huddersfield, I couldn’t do the classic night-before-big-band-gig of staying up til 4am printing and sticking.  Instead, it was a last-minute panic to finish the charts and email them home to my sister who helpfully printed them out ready for me to sellotape at 8:15 that morning when I arrived home!  The gig was fantastic, and the first time that I’ve felt proud of my big band pad, like it’s a set of music ready to be performed in public.  So book my big band here!

Another amazing experience in September was playing for the “Diner en blanc,” event in Covent Garden.  Apparently, this was a kind of ‘secret cinema’ event, where diners knew the theme (wearing white) and what to bring (portable chairs and tables) but they didn’t know until the last minute where it was going to be held.  We had to set up at about 6pm, and even the band had to fit in with the ‘wearing white’ theme, but we felt a bit daft in the middle of the piazza at Covent Garden in our white outfits in the middle of the rush hour.  But about an hour later, the whole place filled up with swarms of white, and suddenly we felt part of a very exclusive club.  It was great fun, and definitely an event that I’d dine at in future!  Here’s their promotional video to get you interested…

I finished off the month with a lovely gig at Jazzy’s jazz cafĂ© in Sandbanks, Poole, where we had to face absolutely torrential weather to get there – and marvel aghast at the kite surfers going for it on the breaking waves.

L to R: Me, Nina Ferro, David McAlmont, Juliet Roberts.

 Then back to London for a night at the Hideaway where I was thrilled to be invited along with three other amazing singers to be part of the “Diva” series, a celebration of voice curated by pianist Janette Mason.  It’s on the last Saturday of alternating months, and I highly recommend it as a great night out.

Top ten tunes about... Geography!

Last Friday I performed with the Mark Armstrong Big Band, on a marvellous gig entitled "Swinging Around the World."  It was a superb gig, supporting two fantastic local charities (click on the links to support them: Pepper Foundation and the Rotary International (district 1260)

So, this month's top ten is a selection of songs related to countries/cities around the world.

1. April in Paris
2. Manhattan
3. Corcovado
4. Indian Summer
5. New York State Of Mind
6. A Nightingale Sang
7. A Foggy Day
8. Lullaby of Broadway
9. Autumn in New York
10. Airegin (Nigeria)

4 out of 10 of these are about New York of course - and there are many more songs about that city.  For those of you who don't know, Corcovado (which means "Hunchback" in Portuguese) is the name of the hill in Rio de Janeiro upon which the statue of Christ the Redeemer stands.

Here are the videos:

1. April in Paris, performed by Kurt Elling:

2. Manhattan, performed by Ella Fitzgerald:

3. Corcovado performed by Lisa Ono:

4. Indian Summer, performed by Sarah Vaughan:

5. New York State of Mind, performed by Tony Bennett and Billy Joel:

6. A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square, performed by Manhattan Transfer:

7. A Foggy Day in London Town, performed by Tony Bennett:

8.  Lullaby of Broadway, performed by The Andrews Sisters:

9.  Autumn in New York, performed by Ella and Louis:

10. Airegin, performed by Lambert, Hendricks and Ross: