Stacey Kent is set to spellbind at Saffron Hall
Grammy-nominated jazz songstress, Stacey Kent, is performing at Saffron Hall on Saturday evening (Nov 3).
The mezzo-soprano singer’s career spans more than two decades, during which time she has sold more than two million albums; these have reached Gold, Double-Gold and Platinum-selling status. “My journey to becoming a jazz singer feels very natural and organic to me, almost accidental,” Stacey says.
“Growing up in America, jazz seemed like a soundtrack. It was in the shops and restaurants and in the movies I loved. While it’s not the only music I love, singing standards seemed to be natural for me.”
The 53-year-old recording artist was born in New Jersey in the United States, but she travelled to England after she graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in New York. “When I graduated, I started my masters degree, but wanted a change of scene so I applied on a whim to a one-year course in jazz at the Guildhall in London,” she recalled.
Stacey got in to the prestigious music and drama school and she moved to the UK. It was here where she met her husband and long-time collaborator, saxophonist Jim Tomlinson.
“We have influenced one another and ultimately create a musical sound which depends on our relationship,” Stacey said. “We continue to learn from each other and strive always to bring out the best in each other, both musically and personally.”
After her course ended, Stacey loved having music take such a huge part of her life, so she kept singing. She said: “My career gradually got more serious and I eventually attracted the attention of some key figures. Humphrey Lyttelton, the British jazz musician and broadcaster featured me on his radio program and was a big supporter.
“That was really the launch of my career because he helped spread the word about me to a national audience.
“I would never say that I ‘arrived,’ but I have kept working on my music and my passion to continue to grow never dies, in fact, it intensifies. I have been fortunate to have had a career that has so far lasted 20 years and still find myself full of joy and enthusiasm to play and learn and grow.”
Stacey’s new album – I Know I Dream – released in 2017, was produced by Jim and Tommy Lawrence. This is Stacey’s first album with an orchestra, comprising almost 60 musicians.
The beautiful collection features music from The Great American Songbook, along with French chansons, songs from the Brazilian musicians, Edu Lobo and Antonio Carlos Jobim, and further original songs written by Jim Tomlinson with and the Nobel prize-winning author, Kazuo Ishiguro. Stacey will perform music from this album when she appears at Saffron Hall.
“One of the most extraordinary and wonderful aspects of recording this orchestral album was working on how to keep the intimacy of what I do, all while performing with 57 other musicians,” Stacey said.
“We achieved what we set out to achieve and that’s because I had such an amazing team of people to work with.
“Jim did some of the arranging and then many arranged by Tommy Lawrence, who completely understood the style and concept.
“To make an orchestral album, it is vital to find the right match between artist and arranger, that’s where the magic can happen because not all arrangements are a good fit, but Tommy and Jim both completely understand the sensibility and the musical universe we wanted to create together.
“Jim and I had lengthy discussions with Tommy over this - that was a big part of the time spent on prepping for this album. Those early discussions are so vital.”
She added: “When working with orchestra, there are so many possibilities, so many different sounds to play with and we worked on creating beautiful harmonies and a feeling of voyage, whilst still retaining that quiet intensity that we love. This was key to how I selected the songs for this album.”
Tickets to Stacey Kent’s performance at Saffron Hall on November 3 are available online. The show will begin at 7.30pm. A free minibus service between Audley End Station and Saffron Hall will be in operation for this concert.