In the beginning!
I was highly involved in music and singing from a young age but my first career was nursing. I trained as a RN and worked in Perth, Sydney and London covering a variety of jobs from regular ward nursing to coronary care, pathology, prisons, IVF, occupational nursing and for five years I was a unit nurse in film & television.
Over the years I was in this industry I was fortunate to work with and meet some of the greatest actors, directors and writers of the film & television world including; Dame Helen Mirren, Nigel Hawthorn, Sir Nicholas Hytner (Director), Alan Bennett (writer), Bob Hoskins, Ewan McGregor, Robin Williams, Christian Bale, Patricia Arquette, Brian De Palmer (Director), Bill Nighy, Simon Pegg, Tom Cruise, Ian Holme, Christopher Hampton (Director), John Cleese and the rubbery faced Rowan Atkinson. You may remember the episode of Mr Bean where he got his hand stuck in a teapot and went to Emergency. He jumps the queue by stealing a ticket from a lady plastered from head to toe, well that’s my handy work…the bandages and plastering!
You will see me in the credits for films such as The Madness of King George and Shaun of the Dead! I was dreaming zombie eyes for weeks. I also worked on a variety of adverts, including Andrex with 40 adorable Labrador puppies, Rimmel with Kate Moss plus a bunch of music promos from UB40, Lisa Scott-Lee to Placebo.
Yes, you can say I have had a very interesting and varied nursing career, what’s more nursing funded me through my musical and voice studies, so for that I am ever grateful. The film & television world exposed me to incredibly creative, talented and focused people. Working in this environment helped me to understand the work ethic and mindset required to achieve high levels of success as an artist and creative.
The day I woke in a sweat! (and no it wasn’t menopause)
Eventually music and singing took a greater hold. Actually I woke up one morning in a cold sweat, feeling a tightness in my throat as though I was about to choke. I had had a dream that I’d died and as I was ‘moving on to the next world’ I realised as I was moving on that I had not lived the life I’d wanted to, that I had ignored the passion I had for singing and music. When I looked back on my life I couldn’t honestly say that I had lived my life to it’s fullest potential. As I got out of bed I decided that from that day that I would do everything I could to follow my passion and explore my potential.
So here I am doing just that! So much more fun, I have to say.
The educational and performing bit
I received my BA Music Education (Jazz) from the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) in 2000. Hugh Jackman went to WAAPA, though unfortunately not at the same time. .
Currently I am doing a Masters at UCL in Performing Arts Medicine combining my medical training with my voice and performance passion. Think Sports Medicine for performers. It’s high time the medical world acknowledged that performers are athletes in their own right, and that they require specilised attention and treatment. You can read more about the course HERE.
I have performed professionally in Australia, UK and USA. My performance experience includes jazz, gospel and classical choirs as a chorus member and a featured soloist, feature singer for big band and I have run my own quartets, trios and duos as well working a bit in professional musical theatre and light classical shows. I also played percussion for the London School of samba for about four years, that was fun. I did 3 Nottinghill Carnivals amongst many other gigs. I been incredibly fortunate to have studied with some of the best jazz singers, musicians and educators in the jazz world including Sheila Jordan, Mark Murphy, Madeline Eastman, Kurt Elling, Billy Taylor, Mark Levine, Anita Wardell, Norma Winstone and Cleo Lane.
Finding my voice!
For a long time I was unsatisfied with my own vocal control and when I began teaching singing I realised I was ill equipped to teach voice with any authority. So I went in search of a vocal technique that was relevant to the contemporary voice. Eventually this search lead me to a technique that helped me gain control of my sound through correct vocal fold closure, laryngeal stability and control of the transition from the bottom to top of my range.
Where I find teaching is my passion!
As time went on I grew more interested and passionate about being a singing teacher than gigging. Moving to London in 2002 it was clear there was an open market for a contemporary vocal technique that could give singers a strong, blended sound using prescribed exercises specific to the individual’s vocal needs. So I set up a studio as a singing teacher in NW London and went about building a community of like minded teachers. I brought master teachers to London and South England to help build on the knowledge of better contemporary vocal technique. This included events with top voice teachers such as Seth Riggs, Dave Stroud, Greg Enriquez, Wendy Parr & John Henny. The teacher community grew from 1 person (c’est moi) in 2002 to eventually 60 certified or certifying teachers in 2010, and growing.
It eventually dawned on me that I wanted to be a teacher of singers more than being a singer. I was finding that instead of thinking “I can sing that better than that singer” the thought was “I can make them sing that better”!
Where I find myself the head of a department!
In 2006 I was very fortunate to be invited to do a series of guest lectures and tutorials at the Academy of Contemporary Music (ACM) in Surrey. This lead on to a regular tutor position as a singing teacher at the school and eventually in April of 2008 I was asked to take on the position of head of the vocal department. I coordinated around 11 vocal staff and oversaw a student body of up to 180. This role taught me a huge amount and allowed me to develop a contemporary vocal curriculum that incorporated solid vocal technique combined with musicianship, style and performance skills across courses that range from part time, BTEC, CertHE and Degree levels. It was here I began designing and teaching The Performer’s Edge course.
Some endings and new beginnings
At the start of 2011 I decided to refocus on my own business again and developing a broader spectrum of singing instruction which, incorporates performance psychology and talent development. As well as working privately with singers in NW London I have set up a new business venture, Shed Light Events, to bring inspired learning events to singers. As a result of repeated requests from singers for a teacher training course I designed the Getting Started As A Singing Teacher course to introduce the fundamentals of one to one teaching.
On a personal level I love listening to singers such as Billie Holiday, Bobby McFerrin,Cassandra Wilson, Eva Cassidy, Mark Murphy, Shirley Horn, Sting, Gretchen Parlato, Prince, Nancy Lamott, Stevie Wonder, Liane Carroll, Michael Jackson, Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, David Ruffin; bands such as Earth Wind and Fire, The Script, The Eagles to name a few.
…and I do have a personal life you know!
I live in the Surrey country side, own a couple pairs of wellies and a Barbour; I enjoy making cards by hand, walking trips, travel, the ocean (yeh I know, ironic); am a proud owner of a Border Terrier called Dexter The Groovemeister, New York is my soul city and I love colour PURPLE!
Hope to hear your story at some point! Let me know if you have any questions.