Although Claire Teal may be new to Arts Blurb, she has a face, and a voice that will be familiar to legions of Jazz Fans, and a pretty impressive CV as well! In 2011 Claire released her 10th album ‘Hey Ho’, and completed a whirlwind year with sold out concert dates, festival appearances, and TV/Radio successes. There’s no rest for the wicked however, as Claire is currently touring the UK with her new show ‘Feeling Good’. I was lucky enough to catch up with her via email, ahead of a tour date in Essex, and asked a few questions about her career to-date, and her memories of playing in Essex.
1. Reading your biography, I saw you won a Billie Holliday sound-alike competition in the early days; do you think you could pass for any other singer?
I started out as a singer and writer of jingles, and quickly found if you could impersonate other people you got more work. I used to do Billie Holliday, Julie Andrews, Karen Carpenter, Doris Day, a terrible Tina Turner, a dodgy Madonna, and a worryingly realistic Mario Lanza.
2. With so many people familiar with the classic Jazz songs, how have you found it over the years getting your own songs out there?
Much as I love singing other people’s songs I do get a thrill writing and recording my own material. I guess if I didn’t sing and record more famous songs no one would get to hear our stuff. My MD Grant Windsor and I, always try, if covering a well-known song to make it different from the original.
3. After ten albums, what have you left on your wishlist, you’d like to achieve?
Before I pop off this mortal coil, I would like to write a musical and a couple of books.
4. From local press, I know you’ve gigged in Essex before; do you have any memories to share about your gigs here?
I remember performing at the Colchester Mercury once many moons ago. As I was getting changed I realised to my horror that I’d packed odd shoes. Thankfully one was a left and one was a right, but one was shiny black with a white stripe and the other most certainly wasn’t. The audience found it very amusing.
5. I didn’t really listen to or buy Jazz music when I was younger, but used to love singing in the school choir to the sounds of our jazz band. Do you think young people connect with your style of music today?
Although I-Tunes, Spotify, Soundcloud, Facebook etc. have caused the music industry to tumble, the opportunity for young people to access all kinds of music is rather wonderful. When I was growing up, admitting to liking jazz wasn’t something I’d ever dared shout about at school, for fear of getting bullied. But these days kids are celebrated for having eclectic tastes in music.
6. What can people expect from you, for the rest of 2012?
2011 was so manic I’d sort of hoped we’d have a bit of time off, but no chance of that! We spent January and February out in New Zealand and China releasing Hey Ho, and immediately came back to a full on tour, which pretty much continues right through to January 2013, so that alongside presenting two weekly shows for Radio 2 and writing my weekly column for the Yorkshire Post doesn’t leave much time for anything else!
The Feeling Good Tour arrives in Essex on Saturday 19th May 2012, at Braintree Arts Centre. Tickets cost £17.50 and £16.50 conc, and are available from 01376 556398. For more information visit www.claireteal.co.uk. If you’ve not heard of Claire before, why not check out some of her performances on Youtube.