Take Five With Helen Abbey
Helen Abbey graduated from the Rose Bruford College of Speech and Drama with a Diploma in Performing Arts. She started her singing career with The Swing Sisters, an a capella group performing on the alternative cabaret scene, and The Seafood Mamas, a close harmony group with a regular slot at The Ritz Hotel, in New York City.
These days Helen has two albums under her belt; Simply Me and Second Time Around, available on CDBaby to buy, listen to or download. She also sings with the Locarno Big Band.
Teachers and/or influences?
Teachers: Ian Shaw, Trudy Kerr, Claire Martin, Sheila Jordan.
Influences: Ella Fitzgerald, Carly Simon, Al Jarreau.
I knew I wanted to be a musician when... As a child I used to sing into my hairbrush by my open bedroom window hoping to be discovered (I lived in a really quite cul-de-sac, so not much chance of that!).
Your sound and approach to music: I like to sing great songs really well. I make sense of the lyrics for myself so that I can deliver them with passion and meaning and truth.
Your dream band:
My dream band would consist of top players who listen well, support each other and me musically, and leave their egos at the door. It matters to me that I can get along with the people I work with.
Road story: Your best or worst experience: I often invite requests and have had amongst others:
Something by Madonna;
Something by AC/DC;
Somebody's missing the point by a mile!
Outside a bar in the square of the medieval town of Jesi, central Italy, on a hot summer evening. A beautiful setting, a really appreciative audience, and a happy bar-owner who wanted us to carry on late into the night for as much Prosecco as we could drink. Ah, happy days (or should I say nights).
Your favorite recording in your discography and why? Carly Simon, Hotcakes. Fabulous songs, lyrics, singing. I sometimes think I would like to cover every track on it.
The first Jazz album I bought was: Julie Is Her Name, by Julie London.
What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically? Emotion.
Did you know...
I have an act as a human jukebox called Jukebox Jenny!
CDs you are listening to now:
Nina Simone, Nina;
Al Jarreau, All I Got;
Claire Martin, Too Darn Hot;
Amy Winehouse, Back To Black.
Desert Island picks:
Isley Brothers, Highways Of My Life;
Rolling Stones, Waiting On A Friend;
Amy Winehouse, Back To Black;
Al Jarreau, Groovin' High;
Ella Fitzgerald, Bewitched.
How would you describe the state of jazz today? It's a very crowded marketplace.
What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing? I haven't figured that one out yet!
What is in the near future? My new album, Second Time Around, is now available so I will be gigging as much as possible to get it out there. I'm planning the third album already. What I looking for is a manager/agent to hustle on my behalf, arrange tours etc and move my career up a level.
If I weren't a jazz musician, I would be a: Can't think of anything else I'd rather be (except wealthier, of course!).