How It All Started
I grew up in the eighties, in the suburbs of north west London within a household that consisted of my two elder sisters, a younger sister, my mum, my dad and me. Born to West Indian parents – and in particular to a father who loved playing records – my childhood was steeped in the sounds of the Caribbean: calypso, soca and reggae. Church hymns were also popular faves and my dad’s bellowing voice was often heard singing or he’d sweetly whistle his favourite picks and now and again I loved to listen to him blow mellifluously into the harmonica he liked to dabble with. My two older sisters played the role of educating me on the sounds of soul. The songs of Anita Baker, Percy Sledge, Marvin Gaye and Roberta Flack would ring out from the kitchen as we sang along in unison completing our clearing-up duties. Those were the days.
Many years later, seeking a basis for a more solid career, I read Media Studies at university but I mingled dangerously with a crowd that studied music. Through them I developed an ear for the sounds of Bessie Smith, Nina Simone and Billie Holiday and I grew in awe of the words and music of songs by Joni Mitchell. I’d listen to tape compilations, studying the voices of Simone and Holiday then on a Sunday night I’d head over to the Park Village bar on campus to put into practise all I’d learned. Of course I didn’t know it then but this period was key to the beginning of my passion with music and performing yet, still persisting with my vision of a more stable career, upon finishing my studies I headed back to London to invest my time in discovering the world of TV and magazines. However that musical pan remained on the boil. I spent my nights at open mic gigs occasionally finding the courage to get myself on stage.
It was in Paris that my love of music developed from a fling into a more fully fledged affair. Moving to this buzzy French city with a thriving arts scene, what was a girl to do if she had little knowledge of the language and no other real purpose in Paris? I began taking guitar lessons and together with my teacher, James Wilson, we played gigs with bass player, Marten Ingle and I loved it. We had a great time gigging around the city and one Senegalese club in Le Marais – Jokko – had a particularly cool vibe.
Two years later and I returned to London and got back to performing bar and pub gigs. It took another couple of years before a prodding in an email, which came from my former vocal coach Daphne Bolden, encouraged me to attempt to do more than simply think about writing songs. Her suggestion led me to go on a hunt for that someone I could write with and a short search, followed by an ad placed online, eventually put me in touch with Ross Lorraine who coincidentally lived a five minute drive from me. Very quickly the co-writing partnership took off and it somehow seemed as if these songs, which were fast taking shape, had actually been lying dormant, waiting to be written.
I was moved to write mostly about my own stories and feelings, some new, some old that I hadn’t even realised I’d been harbouring. I’d find myself waking in the early hours of the morning to hum my nuggets of inspiration into a recorder which lay resting beside my bed. Sleepy-eyed yet somehow driven by excitement I’d scribble down lines in my notebook determined not to let pass any idea that I thought could turn into yet another song creation. I’d stay up late at night just feeling I had to get a song written. Then I’d send enthusiastic emails to Ross with MP3 attachments and lyrics anticipating his response and eager to know how his sprinkling of magic would develop it further.
Long Road Travelled
And so this carried on until, well the point I’m at now where many of these songs have been recorded for what is my very first album entitled Day Dawns. Throughout the writing process, I’d use my gigs to try out the songs that Ross and I had written, developing and tweaking them all the time and watching the responses from those listening ears in the audience.
It took a big step to have an initial meet and chat with engineer and producer Joe Leach at the Cowshed Studios and then another year and a half before I returned to think again about the plan of recording and this time, finally, I put it into action. Once things got underway, there was no stopping me.
So here I am, album in hand, ready to take on the task of trying to introduce it to the world. Day Dawns takes its name from the penultimate track which is so called because the song describes a time when I watched an early morning sunrise. Sitting atop Haleakala Mountain in Hawaii, my partner and I were rendered speechless by the sight that came before us as the sun awoke the skies. But Day Dawns also means a little more than this to me. Each day gives birth to the potential for fresh opportunities and this is very much a turning tide; the closing of one chapter and the starting of a crisp, barely touched page.
It’s been a long journey getting to this point but now I’m here I feel the ember burning and I don’t want it to die out. And so it should be. A new Day Dawns indeed.