Singer, voice artist, creative, 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 methodist tradition, 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.
My sister used to call me a "proper little Julie Andrews" because I knew all the songs from Mary Poppins and the Sound of Music when I was about 5 years old, and sang along at the top of my voice!
Despite this, my role model was not Julie Andrews, but the late Marni Nixon. She used to dub the singing voices of the stars (Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady) from a studio and didn't have to get dressed up.
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 more eclectic 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 with my kids' friends.
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.
Guildhall School of Music and Drama
Trinity College of Music, London (Fellow)
Life Coaching Skills & Practice(Newcastle)
Clinical Hypnosis (LCCH)
Award-winning Crossover Artist
Despite all my training, I have always, naturally, retained my ability to sing crossover genres 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.
I experienced a number of bereavements early in my life, starting with my only sibling, Claire, who died age ten, when I was nine,
In those days, in the 70's in Cornwall, there was little in the way of mental health support.
My dear dad suffered alcohol addiction and my parents' marriage didn't recover from the grief.
I didn't see my dad again until I moved to London, and he died from the disease when I was 21.
I had a beautiful and close relationship with my mum, but she died the summer after I got married.
By age 30 I had lost my sister and both parents, before my first child was born.
Singing as therapy
I have always found great comfort in singing, and I am acutely aware of how connected our voice is to our inner emotional world.
When my parents parted, I was sent to boarding school, which I loved. It was full of friends and music.
I used to lead singalongs in the dormitory - anything from The Carpenters to The Wombling Song (always eclectic!) and my friends still remark on how it lifted our spirits, all of us being away from home and family.
I have found that many people , as they get older, avoid things that trigger emotional connection to themselves. Like the voice does. 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, Soul Music, 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.
Holistic Coach and Teacher
At school I had first became aware of how, even at that age, some people have already formed the belief that they "can't sing", either through teasing, bullying or misguided judgement.
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.
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.
In 2006 I started my "Voice Club' groups. Initially led by my desire to hold a space for people to practice and develop healthy, relaxed and reliable singing technique, in good company.
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.
At school, my best friend loved singing and sang all the time, but absolutely believed she had a "terrible voice", however much I begged to differ.
40 years later, she was one of my first Voice Club alumni!
I have led traditional Christmas carol singing in my local park for 17 years. Originally pining for the Harbourside Carolaires from Newlyn and Mousehole in my youth.
It started as muddle of toddlers gathered around some torches in the mud, but has grown in sophistication and organisation to become a well-loved local tradition, enjoyed by a whole generation of families!
Over the years I have been secretly infiltrating the repertoire with the traditional Cornish tunes (but don't tell them...)
I am hon. 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.
Keeping busy/procrastinating/on my list....
I divide my time between north London and Cornwall, and visit Venice regularly for work and pleasure..
I have been married to my Cornish/Italian boyfriend, who I met in Penzance Wimpy Bar in 1975, for 32 years and we are parents to three amazing young people!