Take Five With Helen Abbey

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Meet 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.

Instrument(s):

Voice.

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!

Favorite venue:

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!).


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