October 14, 2016

Creative Scotland Award for Chrysalis Project

Red Admiral Chrysalis

Hi all

I’m delighted to announce that I was recently awarded funding by Creative Scotland for a major project I’ve embarked on. This is the first time I’ve ever applied for funding and wasn’t that hopeful that I’d be successful, so was overwhelmed when they gave me their decision.  Have to say that the application was gruelling, one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.  However, even if I hadn’t got the award, going through the process was definitely worthwhile as it forced me to really focus on the content and purpose of my project.


For some time, I’ve felt a burning need to say something more in the songs I sing.  Something about the issues that really concern me, as a woman, as a mother, as a citizen of this world with it’s many problems.  I get angry, upset and frustrated, like I’m sure many of you do when we see the abuse, violence and ill treatment of people happening because of their gender, their race, their sexual identity, their religion, the list goes on.   Seems to me that though we’ve made massive technological advances, we’ve made little progress when it comes to our humanity and understanding, sometimes it even seems we’re moving backwards becoming increasingly intolerant, dividing ourselves instead of coming together.  I’m a political animal and I feel my music so far hasn’t incorporated this important part of who I am.  The songs I’ve been singing, although I cherish them, have been generally focussed on being in or out of love.  Now, love is something we all need, life is nothing without it but that’s not all there is!

The Project

I’ve been writing lyrics for a while now but wanted to create some original songs that focus on some of the issues that matter to me, particularly gender, identity, equality and the female experience.  I realise there’s a fine balance here between entertaining whilst raising issues and avoiding spouting from a soapbox.  A big influence on me is soul/funk music of the 60’s and 70’s which did this so well, so many great songs from that period, the grooves and hooks carried the sentiments in the lyrics.  So I’m also using this as an opportunity to explore different sounds and experiment a bit, leaving it open to going in a new direction musically.  There will always be some jazz in there though!!

Why Chrysalis?

The working title right now for the project is Chrysalis.  God that was a hard one to decide on.  How I laboured over it!  Trying to find one or two words at most that encapsulated what it was about?!!  In the end, I felt the word Chrysalis best expressed what this work means to me and where I am in my personal development as an artist.  I don’t know what I’ll be when I come out the other end of it.  Will I be  colourful like a butterfly or dull like a moth?!  Have I set myself up? 😉


I’m really pleased to have on board musician/composer/band leader Janette Mason who brings a wealth of experience from pop to jazz.  I feel so fortunate to have such a generous, accomplished and committed guide to help me on this journey.  Janette is co-writing as well as being my Musical Director and Producer, so it matters a lot that she feels equally passionate about a lot of the issues I’m writing about.  It’s been an interesting and sometimes uncomfortable process developing a collaborative relationship with her and I’m learning a lot!  You have to be honest and open to criticism, difficult at first but it’s getting easier. 🙂

Another objective of this project is to work predominantly with other female artists as I’ve generally been working exclusively with male musicians.  I like working with guys but I wonder how different the experience with women will be?  Plus I’d like to share the platform with other women too, we need to support each other.  I could present lots of stats on the numbers of women in music, how their presented, how few are included in festivals, etc, etc, but that would take up a whole other posting!


If you want to check out Janette and the exciting stuff she’s been working on, including work on her next Trio album. Go to the following:


Also, I’m now on Instagram and Pinterest, where I’ll be sharing links to things that are inspiring me:



I’ll share more as time goes on: plans for performing, recording, including visual art, expanding into education, etc.  I’ve a lot going on in my head but I’ve also got to get writing those songs!!

In closing, please feed back comments.  Let me know if there are aspects of the Project you’d like to hear more about.

Love & peace to you.


August 2, 2016

Days of Wine and Roses

Supposedly it’s summer, though looking out my window right now it’s hard to believe. However, there have been some lovely days and I’m so fortunate to live by the beach here in Stonehaven. As you can see, my dogs love it too!

Summer 2016 Stonehaven Beach

Summer 2016 Stonehaven Beach

Time passes so quickly but we have to seize the moment and enjoy those blue skies when they do appear. This Sunday coming, I’m back at Drum Castle to play jazz on the lawn. This is my fourth year and we’ve managed to get the sun each year so if you’re in Aberdeenshire, come join us and hopefully find the sun too! 🙂

The following Sundays (14th & 21st August), I’ll be playing in fab pop up ‘The A Club’ which is taking residence in the Merchant’s Hall in Edinburgh for the duration of the festival. Ardbickie Distilleries, those makers of very fine gin, are operating the venue. This is going to be a unique venue where we performers get to give you a full performance, rather than the typical one hour slot’s elsewhere. Those who’ve attended the fringe in previous years will be familiar with the pressure on venues to get their audiences in and out as quickly as possible for a show of one hour or less. In this glamorous venue, the audience get to be seated at tables where they’ll enjoy table service and a menu of delish food and delectable cocktails (sadly I shan’t get to try those till after gig). Not only that but you get to relax for several hours escaping the frantic rushing around from show to show happening elsewhere!

The A Club

My show takes place over lunchtime (12.30pm) so I’ve put together a special set list to reflect the ambience of the venue. I’ve called it Lush Life, after Billy Strayhorn’s song of the same name and which, of course, is included in the set list along with songs such as ‘Peel Me A Grape’ by Dave Frishberg and Bob Dorough’s ‘Small Day Tomorrow’.  That gives you a flavour of what to expect. It’s going to be fun!  I only wish there were a grand piano to drape myself over! 😉

Check the events page for links for booking.

Hope you’re enjoying life and listening to lots of great music. If you’re looking for some recommendations, here’s what I’ve been listening to recently:

David Hazeltine’s ‘I Remember Cedar’ (tribute to Cedar Walton)
Aly Keita/Jan Galega Bronnimann/Lucas Niggli ‘Kalo Yele’ (World/Jazz Fusion)

Curtis Lundy ‘Against All Odds’

Brad Mehldau Trio ‘Blues and Ballads’

Enjoy and please keep supporting live music. We musicians need you, performances only really come alive when we’ve got an audience so you’re an integral part of what we do!



December 4, 2015

Winter is here and so is my EP ‘Snow Falls’

After several bumps along the way, my winter jazz EP ‘Snow Falls’ is available at last via the Store page above.

The EP has the first recording of an original song of mine ‘Snow Falls’ and I’m delighted with how it turned out. I have my friend and collaborator Tim Richards, pianist on this and the earlier release My New Jive, to thank for that. With his great ear and arranging skills, he was able to create a lovely arrangement just from hearing me sing it! Thanks also to drummer Jeff Lardner, who added the bossa feel. This is an example of why I love making jazz so much. The music can go in so many directions when you bring great musicians together who bring their own experiences and ideas to the mix.

I didn’t want to make this a ‘Christmas’ EP. Instead I chose music that brought focus on the sometimes conflicting mood and atmosphere around these winter months, when we feel at our most hopeful and also most melancholy. The tracks I chose hopefully reflect that.

I included my favourite carol ‘In The Bleak Midwinter’ (retitled ‘Bleak Midwinter), but changed it by omitting part of the original lyrics and replacing it with some of my own. My version is now more about the bleakness you can feel when thinking about people no longer with us, rather than on the religious focus of the original. Hoagy Carmichael’s ‘Winter Moon’ was another song that had a bitter sweetness tinge to it for me. Such a beautiful song that strangely has been rarely recorded. Art Pepper inspired this version and thanks to both Tim Richards and Dominic Howles we had a lovely arrangement to work with. The last track is Vince Guaraldi’s ‘Christmas Time Is Here’, much loved by Charlie Brown fans. The song is usually done more as a sweet ethereal ballad but, for me, the lyrics by Lee Mendelson are really quite upbeat and all about the anticipation and excitement you feel about Christmas: the holidays, the presents, the fun, the hanging with friends and loved ones. I hope my take on it won’t upset the fans of the original version. All I can say is that jazz is about interpreting things in the way you feel them, rather than just copying the way things were done previously.

I had some vocal challenges when recording this as I had a persistent cough which was affecting my voice. That was frustrating and upsetting at the time. One of those ‘the show must go on’ moments! However, I remind myself that at different times and for different reasons, voices do change and you get other qualities coming through. On this recording, I think the remnants of the cold brought a more delicate quality to my voice which, in the end, adds to the atmosphere of the tunes.

Now it’s done and out there and it’s over to you to decide whether you like what we’ve done.


PS: Please also check out the beautiful artwork for the EP below. My amazing 17yr old niece, Morven Douglas, designed it for me. You get a free download of this when you purchase the EP!

Snow Falls Cover

Snow Falls Cover

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November 17, 2015

Winter EP – Snow Falls

Hi all

The winter winds have arrived and it’s getting to that time of year where I could eat my weight in chocolate! Every year around this time, as they grey descends, I start thinking how we really would be better off if we hibernated. Then again, who wants to miss out on the build-up to Christmas? Like most people though, I really only enjoy the build up so maybe we could hibernate after opening the presents and wake up again along with the hedgehogs? 😉

But what would Christmas be without some winter music? Ah ha, well, funny that should be mentioned because I’ve just recorded an EP of winter music in London with some wonderful jazz musicians. The very same line-up from my album ‘My New Jive’, Tim Richards (piano), Dominic Howles (bass) and Jeff Lardner (drums). The mixing has now been done and mastering is set for next week so will be available w/c 30 November.

The EP will only be released digitally but the door’s been left open for maybe a whole album of winter/spring music next year. So, if you know other people who are into vocal jazz and ensemble playing and like some chilled laid back music from some stellar musicians, how about buying them a download of the EP? I’m also getting some artwork done which could be used as a Christmas card so you could print that off and add the code for the download. Christmas present sorted! The website’s currently being updated so you’ll be able to link to the purchasing site directly from here. Come back next week and check it out.

That’s it for now. Keep warm and try not to eat too much of the carbs. There’ll be a huge price to pay come January otherwise when you might find yourself having to go pound some pavements with me! 😉


PS: If you want to hear more details about what’s going on or just want to make sure you’re not missing out. Why not sign up to the newsletter? Easy to do, it’s on the right hand side of this page.

October 26, 2015

The Real Hipster – Jazz Vocalist Mark Murphy (14 March 1932 – 22 October 2015)

Another celestial jazz light has gone out.

I was saddened when I heard that jazz vocalist Mark Murphy had died on Friday 22 October.  He was an incredibly unique voice in jazz, who never veered from the course he set for himself.  Always learning, absorbing and pushing.  He was one of the hardest singers for musicians to play with because there were no limits.  He allowed the music to flow freely through him and taken him and everyone else wherever it might go.  A real risk taker, a true improviser and a real jazz musician.  He never sung a song the same way twice.

I count myself as blessed, having been a student of his on a jazz summer school.  Having heard recordings of his some years before, I couldn’t miss the opportunity of learning from this icon.  His recording had had a profound affect on me, in a way that not many jazz singers have.  He opened my ears to the possibilities of making music with your voice, to being a part of the band, not limited to just singing the melody line and the written lyric but feeling and being the music.

I count myself as blessed, having been a student of his on a jazz summer school.  ‘Hipsters’ are a real thing now but they should really take a look and a listen to Mark Murphy who was the real thing.  Mr Cool.  I can remember him so well, his jazz speak, his dress (flamboyant), him wandering around with the largest bar of cadbury’s milk chocolate you can possibly imagine, breaking off squares whilst delivering pointers on performance.  I remember him too, telling me that female jazz singers had to wear high heels!  Tell that to Carol Kidd!  That was a surprise to hear.  But his connection with the music and his rootedness in himself was inspiring.  To be so free and to just be, that’s what we strive for and he had it.

Watching him and listening to him perform and to see how the top musicians playing with him were pushed to be their very best was incredible.  The absolute focus they had to have to keep up with this virtuoso, was quite something.  Boy did they work up a sweat!  For a singer, it was an amazing lesson.  He had total and absolute control of everything that was and would happen on stage.

Thankfully having had a long career of more than 50 years, which included more than 40 albums, he’s left us with a lasting testimony to his unique contribution to this wonderful music we all love.

He doesn’t have the ‘name’ recognition that many of his contemporaries have but that’s because he didn’t seek commercial fame.  That’s a shame.  Hopefully if you’ve not listened to him before, you’ll take that opportunity now.  Here’s a little something to get you started, one of his most popular recordings ‘Stolen Moments’ for which he penned lyrics to Oliver Nelson’s music.

Mark Murphy – Stolen Moments

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October 2, 2015

October News

It’s October already, how’d that happen?!

I’ve been reminded that I’ve not posed any updates on here since Spring.  I’m bad, I know, very bad.  However, I have been trying to keep my Facebook page and Twitter up-to-date and there are only so many hours, particularly when you want to spend your time making music!

This is just a brief holding statement just to let you know that I’ve been spending less time gigging lately and more time on writing and preparing for several projects underway at the moment.  First up an EP of winter songs which will be recorded next month with Tim Richards, Dominic Howles and Jeff Lardner.  The fantastic musicians I worked with on my album ‘My New Jive’.  We’ll then be back in the studio early next year to record another album together.  So, watch this space.  Some info on the third project will go on here next month.  A little teaser for you though – this one’s going to take me in a bit of a new direction and working with some other extremely talented musicians who I’ve not worked with before.

Exciting times!

So, in the meantime, I will commit to keeping this up to date, at least once a month.  I promise.  I know I’ve probably said this before but I mean it this time.  I do.  I really mean it. 😉


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April 15, 2015

Spring has Sprung

Isn’t this the best time of year?!  So many great songs written about Spring too, one of my favourites is Joy Spring “Isn’t Spring your favourite season, watching the flowers blooming up out of the ground … it’s got me feeling so glad, the day’s are breezy, you’ve got the time to say hello and give a smile”.  A classic be bop tune written by Clifford Brown.  Hope the season is making you smile and your sharing them.

So, excellent gigs at the recent Aberdeen Jazz Festival to a sold-out wonderful audience.  There’s no feeling like it when you feel really connected to your audience and you’re all in it together.

I’ve also had a really special experience hosting a house concert in my new home for the wonderful violinist Jyotsna Srikanth.  This is my first time doing this and what a great way to enjoy music and socialise.  I can’t recommend enough to anyone who might like the idea of bringing together your friends and/or community and provide an opportunity for local or visiting musicians to perform.  In some ways, I think this may be a better way of bringing music to an audience so will be looking into performing at house concerts myself.  Get in touch if you think you might be interested.

Next gig: this Friday 17th April sees me back at Harvey Nichols in Edinburgh in their cocktail bar/bistro on the 4th floor, from 7-10pm.  Look forward to seeing some new and some familiar faces there.

Cindy 🙂

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March 6, 2015

March Update

Hi all

Eek, how bad am I.  Almost a year since I’ve made a posting!

I shan’t reflect on the highs of last year. It’s good to look back a little but far better to look forward.  I will say that I’m looking forward to doing more performances this year of the Lady Day and The Pres show, which was really well received at last year’s Edinburgh Jazz Festival.  Next performance is going to be at the Aberdeen Jazz Festival later this month with the wonderful saxophonist and 2013’s Scottish Jazz Award winner for Best Instrumentalist, Konrad Wiszniewski.

Another new show which has been in development and will be debuted at the same Jazz Festival in Aberdeen is the Jazz for Little Kids and Very Big Kids.  This show is all about getting young kids into live music and, of course, jazz.  We’ve got to keep developing our audience and you can’t start too early!  The show’s going to be full of tunes from the kids movies, such as Monsters Inc, Toy Story, Cars, 101 Dalmatians, etc and I’m hoping the kids are going to get involved and maybe their parents, grandparents too.  I’ve suggested to the guys that I’d like them to dress up for the show  but I’m either going to have to use a very big carrot or an event bigger stick.  Ha ha.  Anyway, I’m really looking forward to this, it’s going to be great fun.

I’ve also had a bit of a revamp on the website and have a new page where I can start sharing lyrics and poetry that I’m writing.  Would be lovely to have some feedback but please be kind.  It’s funny but although I’m a performer, I feel more naked sharing my writing than I do getting on stage!

Please also sign up for the newsletter where I provide more info on what I’m up to, other jazz happenings, who I’m listening to, offers, etc.

Thanks for checking in and enjoy every minute of every day whatever you’re doing.

Cindy x

May 30, 2014

Spring Update

Spring has sprung.  The house martins are flitting around the house & nesting in the eaves.  It’s a busy time for them and for me!

I’ve been busy working on several projects.  First up, Eat to the Beat – the Pop Up Jazz Supper Club.  The launch event at Auchenblae saw the hall transformed into a fantastic cosmopolitan jazz club for the night.  Everyone had such a great time and all ended up on the dance floor by the end of the night, which is not something that happens at jazz gigs very often!  I’m hoping for more of that at our events in Banchory and Birnam next month.  The Banchory event is at the Banchory River Festival and takes place in the Guide Hut, another transformation to perform and no, it won’t be us transformed into girl guides, no matter how hilarious it would be to see the guys in the band dressed up like that!

Second project is my tribute to ‘Lady Day and The Pres’, which will be debuting at this year’s Edinburgh Jazz Festival.  I have the wonderful saxophonist and 2013 Scottish Jazz Award winner Konrad Wiszniewski performing with me.  Further dates are being worked for other festivals this year and next so keep an eye on the gig calendar!  Check out Konrad here:  http://konradwiszniewski.com

Third project was debuted at a special event at Aberdeen Art Gallery earlier this month to coincide with their exhibition on the First World War.  This cataclysmic period devastated Europe and it’s people but led to so many huge social and cultural shifts, one of which was the jazz age.  The American soldiers who fought, introduced jazz to Europe through their military bands attached to the all-black regiments.  The most famous of these being James Reese Europe.  Music from the period and from the years following are featured with, of course, some reference to styles of the time and of today.  It’s been really interesting researching this period.

There are lots of other gigs happening too, so please make sure to check the gig listings and try and get along to something.  If you can bring dancing shoes too, all the better!

Hope this finds you busy but not so busy that you’re not having fun.  After all, what’s it all about if we’re not having fun?!

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October 23, 2013

Eat to the Beat

Hi there

Tickets are now available to purchase online for the first two ‘Eat to the Beat’ events from Eventbrite (www.eventbrite.co.uk).  I’m also trying to organise for local sales of tickets so watch out for updates on that.

Event management is not something I imagined myself getting into but here I am.  I’m learning as I go along and finding that there’s a lot more to it than I’d first thought.  I guess that says something about my nature.  I am rather impatient.  I also know that if I think too much about it and the challenges to be faced, that on balance, I’d decide not to do it!

Saying that, I’m looking forward to it and really pleased with the enthusiasm it’s being met with, with press and radio picking it up and more importantly, from people who are keen to come.

It’s a big risk taking on something like this but the climate for live music, and in particular jazz, is not great and I feel that the onus is more and more on the artist to create their own opportunities for playing and to try and find an audience who are interested in what they have to offer.  Plus, I also feel that we have to work harder to build an audience for jazz.  For some reason many people have a bad impression of what the music is.

So, that’s why I’ve decided on getting into the promoters seat and taking this out into more rural communities.  Hopefully by offering more of an ‘experience’, a night out with food an entertainment, candlelight, etc, people who might not generally come out for jazz, will be more persuaded to.

Of course, as I said, I’m taking a risk.  However, whether it works or not, it’s going to be another opportunity to learn new things!

I’m always keen to hear what people think so please drop me a line if you’d like to share your thoughts.

Best wishes


PS:  Please check on what’s coming up by clicking on ‘Shows’.


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