Performer, voice artist, songwriter, coach
I come from Cornwall - a small fishing village called Newlyn in the far south west of Britain. Famous for (as well as the fish!)the school of artists and the extraordinary light.
I was raised in a very eclectic, musical family, in a world where people sang. At home, at school, in chapel, in the pub, at parties, down the pier, on the way home. People would "strike up" in four part harmony - people knew the parts - and if they didn't they made them up
I took singing for granted.
I had a varied performing upbringing involving methodist chapel, and a school with an outstanding performing focus, the Minack Theatre, Truro Cathedral, Duchy Opera, G & S, jazz, pop and punk bands, as well as theatre, public speaking and performing monologues.
I have always been drawn to eclectic styles of music and have still love singing folk, jazz, pop, showtunes and world music as much as classical.
I studied singing/opera and performance at two of the world's leading conservatoires for five years, Guildhall School of Music andDrama and Trinity College of Music (now Trinity Laban) in London. I gained my fellowship, licentiate and diploma 1n 1992.
When I left Cornwall to study at Guildhall School of Music & Drama my family were very proud. However, in those days it was frowned upon to sing anything other than "proper" singing. This was before the jazz course was introduced to the conservatoire, and my eclectic tastes remained something of a guilty secret. Indeed, first year students were not permitted to sing in public at all, which I found very difficult.
But I followed my instincts and started session singing and acting.
Two of my early highlights of the 1980s were:
Backing singer for the Gang of Four on BBC show The Old Grey Whistle Test
Appearing in Dr Who (not a great artistic accomplishment, but it earns me cool points)
After a while working in the music industry, in bands, songwriting, VoiceOver and making records I returned to conservatoire (Trinity College of Music - now Trinity Laban in Greenwich) and spent 4 wonderful years training full time with my inspirational teacher and tenor, the late John Wakefield.
My singing studies included:
Performance and academic studies
Movement, dance, Dalcroze eurythmics, music history, composition, sight singing, keyboard, and stylistic perception, song classes, masterclasses and competitions as well as languages, French, Italian and German.
Despite all my training, I have always retained my natural ability to sing crossover with the appropriate vocal sound.
In 1992 Dame Cleo Laine and John Dankworth recognised my ability to vocally "cross-pollinate" musical genres when I won the "Allmusician of the Year" award at The Stables, Wavendon.
That launched my vocal career in many directions and I love how diverse my musical world can be!
I have worked across genres as a soloist, performer, arranger and coach, from the ENO to the BBC.
My personal taste in music and my eclectic work takes me in all creative and directions, from commercial studio session work and songwriting to opera, jazz, folk - particularly Cornish music - and contemporary music styles, as well as acting , voiceover and directing/producing theatre and radio plays
I currently work as a studio-based session singer, working in commercial/film/tv and with songwriters and composers.
I also create voiceover and narration for various media.
I perform with my jazz band, folk ensemble and ad-hoc concerts with collaborators.
Early on in my teaching career I was inspired by one of my clients, an adult beginner whose journey from severe depression to restored mental health was supported by her pursuit of "freeing" her singing voice.
It was the first time I had been a part of such a rewarding journey. It prompted me to explore therapeutic avenues relating to the voice, to help me use vocal training in a more holistic way. (I speak more about this with Dr Courtney Raspin in the Happy Voice Podcast.)
With a desire to understand more fully the relationship between singing and wellbeing I trained and qualified in Life Coaching Skills and Practise from Newcastle College, and studied Clinical Hypnotherapy at The London College of Clinical Hypnosis.
I also trained at Art and Business in Arts Based Training.
I now include elements of these holistic skills, hypnotherapy and coaching in my voice training and Life coaching practice, as well as working with people on unlocking their creativity and balancing the elements of their life.
I worked as a consultant on the BBC Radio 4 show "Am I Tone Deaf?", exploring that topic with the (brave!) presenter, Sathnam Sanghera.
In 2006 I started my "Voice Club' groups in Crouch End. Initially led by my desire to hold a space for people to practice and develop healthy, relaxed and reliable singing technique, in good company.
At Voice club I am able to teach, direct and motivate people to relax and enjoy their voices in a non-judgemental group. I am led by the needs and preferences of the members, and my greatest desire is to help people find joy in their voices, going on to join choirs, sing solos, access their voice for the first time or whatever makes them happy.
Voice Club has grown to include the Voice Club Singers Coaching choir and other weekly groups.
My course "Relax and Sing" for anxious adult beginners has been the springboard for so many people connecting with their voice for the first time, and making lifelong friends.
I am now producing E-Courses for home study training online and have created my Happy Voice Podcast!
Having experienced a number of bereavements in my life, starting with my only sibling, Claire, passing away when I was nine, I had also lost both my parents by the age of 30, before my first child was born.
I have always found great comfort in singing, and I am acutely aware of how connected our voice is to our inner emotional world. I have found that many people avoid this connection to themselves. Some fearing what it may uncover, avoiding feelings of pain and sadness or fear of losing control.
I was fortunate to participate in a beautiful show for BBC Radio 4, telling my story about singing and bereavement. Listen here
For the countless people who experience other anxieties and fears relating to the voice, this can be compounded and become debilitating.
I am committed to facilitating people's relationship with their voices. I believe that this relationship is our right, and its benefits are profoundly healing and restorative with wide-reaching benefits.
I am exploring the therapeutic nature of vocal Sound Healing in my own practice and coaching, encouraged by my former pupil and friend, the Australian Sound healer Suntara Daniel Coates.
I divide my time between north London and Cornwall, and visit Venice regularly for work and pleasure..
II have been married for 30 year and am mum to three amazing young people!
I am proud to be Chairperson of the Crouch End Players Community Theatre in North London. A thriving community of creatives who perform and devise theatre and new writing for the joy of it.
I challenge and campaign against society's acceptance of what I call "voice-shaming," having seen, for over 30 years, the long lasting damage it can do to confidence and self-esteem.
You may not wish to be a professional singer, or even an amateur singer. Your goals may be as simple as to sing to your children or join in with "Happy Birthday to You".
Your voice is your voice, and nobody has the right to shut it down. It expresses who you are.
The Happy Voice Podcast is very close to my heart, in which guests and I explore people's relationship with their voice.
I invite you to join the conversation...
In response to the pandemic, all my work has moved to Zoom. I was already working online with remote clients, so it has been an easy transition, with most clients choosing to continue their weekly lessons and groups this way!
"Relax and Sing for Breathing and Wellbeing"
This is a twice weekly online vocal class, open to all, helping to promote relaxed, healthy breathing, relaxation exercises, vocal warm-ups and uplifting songs.
This has been such a popular and enjoyable project, attracting people from all over the world, some finding their voices for the first time!
The classes will start again in October and enrolment is now open!
Current projects and plans
Writing a book
Directing Radio drama
Guildhall School of Music and Drama
Trinity College of Music, London (Fellow)
Life Coaching Skills & Practice(Newcastle)
Clinical Hypnosis (LCCH)
My artist page