Jazzy Clare Teal to bring her 'real' music to Derby for first time
Ella Rhodes talks to jazz singer and broadcaster Clare Teal about her love of big bands ahead of her debut Derby performance.
CLARE Teal believes in the power of a big band, despite their "untrendy image".
It was this love of swing bands that led to a passion for singing – even though she never sang in public until she was a university student.
She will soon be bringing her silky smooth vocals and jazzy hits to Derby's Assembly Rooms for the first time.
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Clare says: "As a kid, I listened to loads of big-band music, old musty 78s that were my grandmother's and I just loved them. I got into that music from there. I started listening to jazz, people like Ella Fitzgerald,
"I'd always been interested in music and played lots of things very badly. I mainly just sang for myself. It was a very private thing.
"When I got to university in Wolverhampton, where I was studying music, it was the first time I sang in front of people. I was in an exam situation and forgot my clarinet. I realised I had to do something.
"So I said to myself, if I can get through this exam I can get through anything so I sang Angel Eyes and Satin Doll and got the best grades I'd ever got.
"It was really liberating, after years of sitting in an attic listening to these thousands and thousands of songs and finally singing them to other people."
Clare's tour is coming to Derby this month and, although her brother lives in the city, she has never performed here.
She says: "I've played all over the world but never in Derby. I have family there but I've just never been.
"I think it's going to be really fun and hopefully it won't be the last time I play there."
Clare says she was not a natural performer at first.
She said: "I'm an everyday sort of person. The only way I can do this as a job is by being real and normal as possible.
"If I get taken out of that world, like if I'm shooting a video, I just turn to wood.
"That's why I love working live because it might be the only time I get to sing. I'm not too bothered about the clapping bit at the end, it's the sharing bit I really enjoy. It's a brilliant job."
Clare will be bringing a simple three-piece band to Derby – piano, bass and drums.
She says: "On tour, I go from duets to using big bands of 20 people. All of the band sing so we do close harmonies. We've all grown up with all different kinds of music so we mix it all up."
Clare is happy to see a "kick back" against the popularity of heavily manufactured music.
She says: "I've made 11 records and I know it's so easy to make things too perfect these days. People are going against manufactured music, even if they don't realise it.
"If you look at Mumford and Sons and Adele, they are putting out their stuff using real instruments. It's the antithesis of what's been drummed into us for the last few years. It's exciting."
Clare, who sings a mixture of old and new songs at her performances says that a wide age range of people come to see her gigs.
And she adds that her mixed repertoire is opening her audience up to different types of music.
She says: "At one gig, a young girl, who was about 18, approached me and asked me what the song I played in my encore was called. I told her it was We Will Gather Lilacs by Ivor Novello and said she should listen to some of his work.
"At the very next gig, a woman in her 80s asked me what song I played in my encore – she was referring to Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol.
"The audience take it on trust what you are going to give them. It's massively fulfilling."
Clare hosts a big-band show on Sunday and Monday nights on BBC Radio 2, which takes her back to the roots of the music that got her into jazz in the first place.
Her Sunday night show concentrates on traditional big-band music while the Monday programme looks at the future of the genre.
Clare says that, though big bands are not particularly "trendy", people are usually affected by them and enjoy them.
She says: "It's only when people haven't heard a big band that they think they're not trendy but it's hard to argue with a machine like a big band. When people think of them, they think of the thin crackly noise on old records. But, if you sat in a room with a big band, it would rip your face off. They're incredibly powerful."
WHAT: Clare Teal.
WHERE: Derby Assembly Rooms.
WHEN: Friday, March 22.
ADMISSION: Tickets cost £16 or £14 for concessions.
TICKETS: Call Derby 255800 or visit www.derbylive.co.uk.