Sunday, 15 July 2018
VETERAN pop-picker MIKE READ knows musical talent when he sees it. Ahead of her homecoming show at the Kenton Theatre on Thursday, December 1, the DJ caught up with retro-pop singer-songwriter Purdy, aka Rebecca Poole from Nettlebed, who following the release of her debut album last year has been busy supporting Jools Holland and his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra on tour
How did you come to work with Jools Holland?
I met Jools at a club I sing at in London. You may have heard of Boisdales? Jools is a patron of the club and was hosting a special jazz night there.
We got to talking about music and he said he would keep an ear out for me.
Two years later after a few email exchanges his manager offered us the support dates with Jools. I was absolutely over the moon.
He clearly loves your voice. How helpful has he been?
Jools has been very complimentary of my performances and after the last tour he offered to play my songs on his BBC Radio 2 show.
I think Jools has to be careful not to look like there is any favouritism going on with his support acts but when he recognises something he likes he will help where he can.
I feel very lucky to have supported one of the few public musical figures still championing good honest, organic music and artistry.
You’ve released some great material and you write good songs — how difficult is it to break through to the next level? And what do you see as the next level?
Thank you. That depends if you want to think in levels. I stopped doing that a while ago as I don’t think it’s healthy to think in terms of levels of fame meaning success.
I have had my own successes — the Royal Albert Hall being the pinnacle so far — and I just do what I love and keep writing and exploring new ways to express myself. That’s what it’s all about for me. Recognition and the roar of an appreciative crowd is the icing on the cake.
You have the talent and a great look. Is it becoming more difficult for genuine working singers, while many who haven’t paid their dues get heavily marketed on reality shows?
Thank you again. I am proud to say I have always been a working singer while producing my original projects.
I have worked hard to make relationships in the music community but it can be difficult to raise your value. One day you’re singing at Wembley Stadium and the next in a small intimate venue.
Some problems lie in the death of physical CD sales and an imperative online presence. We are living in an online world and most of my fans, like me, prefer real life so it’s the live shows that really matter.
I was recently told by the head of a big record label that we are moving into a digital era and even the record companies aren’t sure how to make money.
People aren’t really buying albums any more, which I find so sad, and singles come and go — so unless you have a big PR machine behind you...
Thats why reality shows have the monopoly on music and that’s why it’s sad to see that the home-grown artist has to fight so much harder to be heard.
The positives of social media is that people are taking control of their careers and if you are brilliant enough and lucky enough you can achieve recognition with an online breakthrough — but these are rare!
Which artists and songwriters have inspired you?
My biggest inspiration would be Nina Simone. I heard her sing and she did quite literally “Put a Spell” on me!
I have always been taken with singers from the Forties, Fifties and Sixties as I feel that there is a particular pathos in the lyrics and melodies.
I’m a sucker for a bittersweet lyric with a dusting of humour. Peggy Lee, Julie London and Nancy Sinatra had this style. Later Amy Winehouse too.
I am more inspired by particular songs than writers generally. Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides, Now, Glory Box by Portishead, James Shelton’s Lilac Wine, Elvis Costello’s Almost Blue.
I love the poetry and when people look at love from a side you may never have thought to look before. I try to do that when I write.
Would you be prepared to record material that wasn’t really your genre for a possible hit album? Or do you want to stay true to your roots?
I find I am not rooted to a particular genre and I hate that we have to be defined by one, so I am always open to exploring new sounds but think it’s important that you believe in what you’re putting out there.
I’m very open-minded to try new styles though. You might be surprised to hear my new songs from my next EP. It’s the most dare I say “commercial sounding” thing that I’ve done and I love it as much as the old jazzy numbers. I can’t wait for you to hear it.
Why is appearing at the Kenton so special for you?
Because it’s home and there is always something magical about coming home for Christmas. The Kenton is a great venue and we had so much fun last year. It was lovely to see so many familiar faces under one roof.
We have a special night planned with my wonderful band, full of musical variety and some special guests. Tickets are now available!
n Purdy plays the Kenton Theatre in New Street on Thursday, December 1, at 8pm. Tickets are £20 and include a £1 theatre restoration levy. To book, call the box office on (01491) 575698 or visit www.kentontheatre.co.uk
Prior to her Kenton show, the Rebecca Poole Trio play the Five Horseshoes pub in Maidensgrove on Friday, November 18, as part of the Brakspear Jazz and Blues Week. Entry is free and there will be a two-course jazz menu available for £30. Booking is advised on (01491) 641282.
On Wednesday, December 28, Purdy plays the Crooked Billet in Newlands Lane, Stoke Row. The pub’s full regular menu will be available and a £20 music cover charge applies. To book a table, call the venue on (01491) 681048.
Purdy’s new EP, Both Sides of the Clown, which the singer says is “about the highs and lows of being a performer and how it relates to life”, is out in the spring. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/purdymusic
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