MY INTRODUCTION TO MUSIC – MUSICAL THEATRE
I first started in music at the age of 8, when I was introduced to musical theatre by joining the Norfolk Youth Music Theatre company.
Although playing a scruffy street urchin and workhouse kid in my first show, ‘Oliver’, might not sound like much, it was my first real taste of music and performing, and ignited the fire under me!
It was being part of these shows that really ‘showed me the ropes’ and taught me how to perform and get into character for songs. Even playing a tree in one show (maybe a bit weird considering I’m only 5ft!), was fab! It just felt great to be part of something so fun and creative J
As I continued to do this for several years, I began to get a few more principle roles, which was a whole new experience. Singing solos in front of a theatre audience was just the most amazing feeling and I remember my first to this day – (I was 9 at the time, playing the role of ‘Elizabeth’ in ‘Whistle Down the Wind’.)
By far my biggest highlight was playing the role of Mary Lennox in ‘The Secret Garden’ for a week at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, when I was 13. If you haven’t experienced the Fringe, you should! – It really opened my eyes and mind to the huge variety of art, theatre and music there is out there, and made me want to be part of that world.
EXPLORING OPERA AND CLASSICAL MUSIC
My Granny has always loved Pavarotti, and I think it was this that broadened my listening to opera and classical music. In particular, I loved listening to Charlotte Church’s early recordings, and when I was about 11, I even had a go at recording my own opera/classical and musical theatre covers album, with the help of my mum’s cousin and sound engineer, Jonathan Wyatt!
It was the first time I’d ever been in a studio, which felt awesome, although it’s really weird to listen to the recordings now!!
MY FIRST ORIGINAL SONGS, ‘LIVE AND UNSIGNED’ AND BGM
I wrote my first original song when I was 13.
I’d just done the Secret Garden, and was thinking about auditioning for the next show. I never planned to write a song, I just sat down at the piano one day, started playing around and it just sort of ‘happened’. It was a song about achieving your dreams (sounds a bit corny I know :P), and I wrote the lyrics down in scrawly felt tip writing in a little multi-coloured notebook I had, which I’ve kept and is now falling apart! From then on I just kept writing songs! I’ve even wrote one after my friends made a bet with me that I couldn’t make a song out of one of our teacher’s lectures!! I called it ‘Stop Talking’!
I’d only written a couple of songs when I decided to enter a music competition for bands and soloists called ‘Live and Unsigned’. I dragged my parents and my keyboard down to Ipswich to audition, and even though it was just for fun and I didn’t really think I’d get through, somehow I did!
After planning and a hell of a lot of practice, I went back a couple of months later armed with my closest friends and family to perform at the Regional Final. Although I didn’t get any further in the competition, I had a blast!
I thought that was it, but a few weeks later, I got an email from the head of a London record label and development company called ‘Baby Girl Music Ltd.’ (BGM), saying they had seen my performance and wanted to invite me to meet with them!! After trotting down to London and auditioning for him, he signed me on an Artist Development contract, and I spent the next 6 months travelling back and forth to and from London, recording my first 6 original songs with a producer in their studios! That was an amazing experience and definitely a massive learning curve for me!
After 6 months of recording at BGM, although I had learned a lot, I realized I hadn’t really worked out who I was as an artist. I decided I needed to go away, work on my craft and try new things, so I did. I got singing lessons again, wrote loads more songs, and started experimenting in different genres, including performing in different groups and bands.
My brother is a drummer, so when we were about 14 we formed our own rock band with two of our friends, and called ourselves ‘The Black Swanz’. We thought we were pretty cool, but thinking back, to everyone else we probably just seemed a bit odd!
We recorded covers of rock songs and gigged around at different events, including once at Centerparcs on New Year’s Eve! We had a laugh but after a while we learned the real struggles of keeping bands together as our personalities began to clash and eventually we went our own separate ways.
I did my own gigs with other bands too, including a soul band and even once a classical orchestra!
ACCESS TO MUSIC
After GCSE’s, I decided to go to Access to Music Norwich. I auditioned and interviewed for the Level 3 Performance Course, but after my first day, my interviewer at the college decided I would be better on the Level 4 Artist Development Course, even though technically you’re supposed to be at least 18 to do it and I was only 16 at the time.
Access to Music was definitely a turning point for me as an artist.
For the first time I was mixing with like-minded people with similar aspirations and I really felt like I fitted in. They helped me to think about my situation and plan steps to move forward, which is a skill I still continue to use.
I created a new identity for myself that was true to who I wanted to be moving forward, and grew a lot as a musician and a person.
Since then, I have been gigging, writing and improving my songs, getting to know my social media, and of course, creating this website! I’ve also recorded a new demo of an original song, which can be found on my ‘Music’ page J
So that just about sums up where I am now and how I got here! J More information about my recent doings can be found on my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram sites (all social media links are on the bottom or left hand side of this page) J
GR8 AS U R
Like many people, I was bullied at school. I looked different from a young age, – I entered the school system as a tiny kid with huge glasses -, which probably set me up as a target from the start.
I never like talking about my bullying experience as I hate feeling like a victim, and even now there’s so much shame attached to it. But even though it was a horrible time of my time, I like to think something good came out of it, as it was this that motivated my Mum and I to form ‘GR8 AS U R’.
GR8 AS U R is about helping children and communities prevent bullying through songs, films and educational resources.
I won’t go into all of it as it’s a massive programme and more information can be found on the website: www.gr8asur.com, but I will go as far as to say it has changed my life.
It all started when I was about 13ish, when we were toying with the idea of helping other people who had gone through bullying. Now, 5 years later, we have since been developing the programme to tackle bullying from all sides, through a variety of creative and educational mediums.
I don’t know about the people we’ve met or worked with, but being part of GR8 AS U R has changed my life, and me as a person.
Through the programme, I have met so many amazing and inspirational people that have touched my heart, and inspired me to continue making music and working with the GR8 AS U R team to stop bullying. Working with them has also helped me to get rid of resentment bubbling inside me from my own bullying experience, and heal the scars that were left.
Part of my work with GR8 AS U R is also music related. I have written songs about our messages to be included in the resources, and some to promote the programme and main message in general.
All of these songs (including my demo track, which was written about my bullying experience for GR8 AS U R), can be found on the GR8 AS U R website (www.gr8asur.com), along with loads of stuff about the programme, our films, and events.
If you’re interested in being part of a GR8 AS U R community and getting involved in what we do, you can contact one of us via our website J
We would love to have you! J