This week Jamie Harber catches up with one of Jazz South’s Breakthrough Commission artists; vocalist and songwriter Lucinda Fosker, following the release of her commissions piece, as part of the Jazz South Online Festival in April.
We’ve been checking-in with promoters and artists throughout the South to see how their lockdown experience has been, and how they’ve been adjusting to the current situation.
What was your first ever encounter with jazz?
From a young age I can remember listening to Nina Simone’s arrangement of ‘I Loves You Porgy’ and being overwhelmed with emotion. I had never heard a singer sound like that before; the raw emotion and passion blew me away. I remember listening to it over and over until I could sing it like her and from then on I was captivated by jazz.
I then went on to be awarded a scholarship to the Laurie Holloway Jazz course when I was 17. Tina May and Anita Wardell were the guest tutors that year and listening to them improvise was just so inspiring. It was from then that I realised I wanted to be a jazz singer myself.
Name a track you wish you’d written.
This really is a tricky question. Being a singer, I am constantly immersing myself in lyrics and songs. Choosing one is difficult, so I’m going to say two instead!
The first would have to be ‘How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore?’ by Prince. This is my more ‘souly’ side coming out but this song just makes me feel so many different emotions. The chord sequence is simple but the groove of the song, the words and the way Prince sings it is just so unique.
The other song would have to be ‘A Case of You’ by Joni Mitchell. I remember listening to it when I was 15 and thinking how complex the lyrics were, again being blown away by her range and melody, and thinking it was just the most beautiful love song ever.
Who have you been listening to recently?
Recently I have been listening to Jennifer Hartswick. Her album ‘Nexus’ has a great vibe and an unreal band, made up of blues and country musicians and Christian McBride on bass. She’s a trumpet player, but this is a vocal album of hers. She does an amazing version of ‘Stay’ that is completely different from the original. Every song on the album is worth a listen.
Favourite gig you’ve ever been to and why?
D’Angelo at the O2 in Birmingham. I always wanted to see him perform live and it did not disappoint! The band were incredible and his general stage presence was pretty special. In terms of jazz gigs, I went to see Cyrille Aimée at Ronnie’s and her improvisation was spectacular! I wish I could somehow capture that gig and watch it back.
Who is your musical hero and why?
It has to be the queen of Jazz – Ella Fitzgerald. I never get bored of listening to her and never will.
Can you tell us about your Breakthrough Commissions piece? What was the inspiration for the piece and what can audiences expect when they listen?
‘Riverways’ is an aural and visual journey along the River Thames. The piece is based on a section that I have known and loved all my life. I have focused on four contrasting places along this stretch: Cookham, Marlow, Hambledon and Henley.
As a composer I wanted to encapsulate the characteristics of the water and scenery through melody and lyrics. I also wanted to have a video playing behind the band, bringing the composition to life.
How did you find the recording process, filming for an online streamed gig?
It was certainly an interesting experience and very different to what I am used to, but it was great and meant that we could have a few takes at the piece (which took the pressure off).
What has it been like working with Jazz South? How has the Breakthrough Commission opportunity helped you develop as an artist?
I feel so lucky to have worked with Jazz South and it was such a blessing to have this opportunity, especially during a time when, as musicians, we have all struggled so much.
It has been an amazing experience and I have met so many inspirational musicians and other industry professionals. I am so sad it is all nearly over, it really has been a great experience! Thank you Jazz South for choosing me as one of your Breakthrough Artists.
Have you been working on any other new material recently?
Yes, I have recently just released my debut album ‘I Get Along’ in March. It actually has all of the same musicians as my Jazz South project, so if you enjoy what you hear please do go and check it out on Spotify and all of the usual social media platforms.
What advice do you have for fellow musicians adjusting to the current situation?
Use this time wisely. I’ve seen it as a great time to really get to grips with my social media, website, and general plans for the future. Gigs will start again at some point but in the meantime just use the time to write music and find who you are as an artist.
What are your post-lockdown plans?
I plan to organise a tour with my band and play some gigs with the album and ‘Riverways’ project. After lockdown I just want to play with other musicians, I’ve missed them all!
What are your hopes for the future, musically and artistically?
I would like to explore myself as an artist now. I have had such a great opportunity with Jazz South, and coinciding with the release of my album, hopefully we can just get out there now and play some gigs. I have also started working on some original jazz tunes, so I’m looking forward to taking these to my band (now we can play together again) and seeing them come to life. Watch this space…
Keep up to date with Lucinda’s projects over on her website.
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