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After my hiatus in Köln, Germany (2001-2012) I came back to London to be with my man Paul Caplin and with a burning passion to sing jazz. Not only did I want to sing jazz, I wanted to bring other genres into play, mix it up and add a hit of Bajan Hot Pepper Sauce. I got together some great musicians and my new band was formed. We had our first rehearsal in May 2012 and our first gig was at the Map Studio Café in Kentish Town on July 5th. The mixed-up genres of jazz, blues, reggae and pop worked really well.

My introduction to the Pheasantry was when I went to see my friend Julia Fordham in concert later that month and she invited me to sing with her on a couple of songs. After a meeting with Ross Dines, the music manager for Pizza Express, we were offered our first Pheasantry gig on 25th September. To date we have enjoyed a total of nine gigs at this fantastic venue with more booked in throughout the year. Last October we also played at the Pizza Express Jazz Club in Dean Street, and we’ll be back there in August.

We’ve been lucky to have had some great musicians guesting with us, as well as a core of brilliant players, starting with Rick Laughlin (musical arranger, pianist and MD) and Sophie Alloway (drums). Now on board we have Arnulf Lindner (double bass/cello), Matt Holland (trumpet/flugelhorn) and Simon Bates (tenor/flute). Massive thanks also goes out to Paul Carmichael (double bass), Rob Hughes (tenor/flute), Reuben Fowler (trumpet/flugelhorn) and George Hogg (trumpet/flugelhorn), who’ve all added their unique sound at different times.

Paul and I have been working on an album together since August. In the early 80’s, Paul was in a band called Haysi Fantayzee and he wrote the music for the band and produced many of their tracks. He also wrote for and managed several artists back in the day. Now I’m thrilled to say that he’s writing for me. We started working together back in October 2010, but the project didn’t take off until I got the band together and the sound really started to take shape. Many of the songs were written while we were in the warmth of the Caribbean sun. Paul and I have known one another for many years and this album is our labour of love.

The songs sound fabulous when the band plays them, but I thought it would be a great idea to try some of them out in front of an audience with just me and a piano. Sitting right on my doorstep is a little gem of a venue called the Book and Kitchen. The ultra-fabulous Muna Khohali is the owner. This intimate music venue holds about 35 people (and hundreds of books!). There is no stage. It’s just like inviting your dearest friends round for dinner with some first class music thrown in for the sheer pleasure of it. It’s the perfect place if you like a really intimate atmosphere. Rick and I have performed two gigs there so far and we will be doing more in the coming months. If you’d like to come along, keep an eye on my gigs page for dates.

I have sung on many other artists’ albums but never my own. After nearly 40 years in music it’s about time, right? This new project with Paul is the most inspiring musical experience I’ve ever had. It’s also the most happiest we’ve both ever been, making music. Making music that fills your soul is reason enough to be alive.

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