Jazz - Gwyneth Herbert
Three years ago Gwyneth Herbert was a 19-year-old student
in York University with a great voice, an inbred love of jazz
music, and an ambitious temperament. During a holiday from
college she spent a week trawling round bars and clubs in
London, looking for somewhere that would let her perform.
She was walking past the Pizza Express Jazz bar in London,
and walked in, demanding to see the manager, Peter Wallace,
one of the most influential promoters of jazz in the country,
the man responsible for bringing Norah Jones to these shores.
He politely took her cd, and waved her off, telling her to
get some experience under her belt. On his way home, he popped
the disc into his car stereo. ‘Within 40 seconds I realised
that I had a star on my hands,’ he recalls.
Pretty soon Gwyneth had a deal with Universal Records, and
a massive future. She has been likened many times to Norah
Jones, but her voice is a unique thing: at times soft and
soulful, at others completely at ease hitting the big notes.
“My mother used to put speakers up to her tummy when
she was pregnant with me and play jazz to me,” recalled
Gwyneth in a recent Radio 4 interview. “I grew up listening
to Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Charles, Nina Simone.”
She dabbled with different sorts of music - classical, punk,
hip-hop - before realising jazz was her forte. She is now
one of the rising stars of the music scene. It is a massive
coup for the Chiddingly Festival organisers to get her to
sing in the village. DL