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Johanna Graham: Don't Let Me Be Lonely

Fiona Ord-Shrimpton By

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AAJ: You mention that you had no clue then that's what you wanted to do. But you were singing to yourself at home...

JG: I didn't feel like I had the guts to do it really. I always sang around the house, but I didn't think I was good enough. I just had low self-esteem.

AAJ: The album Don't Let Me Be Lonely does have a unique 'Johanna Graham' sound. How long did it take to develop your sound?

JG: When I started out I suppose was mimicking my influences, and you do, you kind of take on all the voices you've listened to, so it's taken me a while to find my own voice. It's a nice journey, it's been a wonderful thing just in itself for me really.

AAJ: If you had to market yourself—who would you say you sound like?

JG: People who I've listened to the most are Ella Fitzgerald, Doris Day, Anita O'Day and Judy Garland. People hear different people in my voice. Of course, Joni Mitchell and James Taylor I Just Love James Taylor's voice it just puts me somewhere else.

AAJ: It's a nice selection of songs on the album, a Kate Bush tune is nice to see on there.

JG: Kate Bush is making a comeback hay, love her! I just remember seeing her on Top of the Pops on TV when I was a kid, doing "Wuthering Heights" and thinking that's what I want to do. And it was obviously the performance side of it that I hooked into. It was always going to be performance for me, but the avenue I found most comfortable was obviously jazz singing.

AAJ Did that song take a long time to arrange?

JG: No, I just could hear how I wanted to do it, and Martin followed me and put some nice chords and changes behind it.

AAJ: And "People Are Strange," that's a crazy one...

JG: Yeah, I thought that's so obviously a swing number to me.

AAJ: There are plenty of swing numbers, is that something you will continue from album to album?

JG: I do love swing so it will always be in there. We're doing some new tunes for the Pizza Express gig in London, we're doing a really nicely arranged swing version of Guns N' Roses, "Sweet Child of Mine," it's beautiful. I don't think many people recognize it at first but it works beautifully. I love all the old ones, so I try to do them in new ways, so I can get away with doing them, like the ones that are really overdone, like Summertime and Autumn Leaves, I really love them and I want to do them so I've been trying to do them in more creative ways. The band really help with the creative input, Tim, Damian, Martin really help, very much we work as a team. And also I'm doing a jazzed up "Jabberwocky" by Lewis Carroll.

AAJ: Really?

JG: Yeah, it's great! It's like a story and then my performance storytelling side comes out then.

AAJ: Do you hold the stage like an actor rather than a singer, do you work the stage or are you stationary?

JG: I'm quite stationary...mmmmmm I don't know!It's hard to say from my side.

Photo Credit: Gemma Burleigh

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