October 20, 2017

WOW – All things Golden

‘Every Leaf Knows That Time Is Short’ Mehmet Murat Ildan

The month’s seem to go by quicker and quicker, don’t you think?!  Sometimes it can feel that not much has been achieved when you look at how the weeks have passed. I read somewhere that there is a biological reason for why it feels like time is speeding up as you get older. For myself I think it’s just that as you get older you became aware of how little we valued time when we were younger!

Anyway, I made a commitment to myself that I would update here more regularly so I’m giving myself a pat on the back that it’s only been 5 months since I last did an update here! If I can maintain a post every season, that would be a success.

That last posting was about my photoshoot with Jannica Honey and some of the results of that are now on my images page. Here’s one I particularly like and seems a good choice for upcoming Halloween! 😉

The witching hour is coming!

I’m trying to reorganise my communications at the moment. As part of that, I’m resurrecting my e-mail newsletter which I hope you’ll consider subscribing too.  My intention is to share a lot more in e-mails and to use here to give brief updates.

WOW and other Happenings

Well, I need to highlight Scotland’s first WOW Women of the World Festival which is taking place in a week’s time in Perth. I am over the moon to be performing at it and will be one of several music events programmed over the weekend.  Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will be opening the Festival the evening before with a talk and Q&A. Disappointed that I can’t attend that as I’m sure it will be riveting and inspiring. But there’s so much more happening on the weekend and for everyone in your family: talks, panel discussions, workshops, walks.

I’ll be performing a short set of some of the new material I’ve written for Chrysalis and will be joined by virtuoso pianist Karen MacIver.  Our performance will be happening at 1pm on Saturday 28th October.  Tickets are for a whole day or for the weekend. Details here https://www.horsecross.co.uk/whats-on/wow-women-world-perth-2017-weekend.

Other new developments which are in the pipeline are my ‘Find Your Voice’ workshops which are targeted at women and girls.  Although music and singing are a part of these workshops, they’re about empowerment, confidence, finding ‘your’ voice through creativity and then expressing yourself.

I’ve also got my fingers crossed about an application I’ve made to a fund aimed at helping musicians develop projects with artists from other art forms. Wont go into details on what the work will be unless I get accepted. If I don’t get the funding then the project will have to be put on hold.  The single biggest challenge of being an artist is financing projects.  Although 99.9% of us self-fund developing our own projects, we have to be able to pay other people to work with us.  It would be ridiculous to expect otherwise.

I’m still actively promoting live music and women in music through my involvement in the Musician Union, sitting on the Regional Committee for Scotland and Northern Ireland and also the National Live Performance Section.  I’ll share a bit about work going on there too in the Newsletter.

Anyway, that’s the quick update. I’ve got to go and do the Newsletter, seeing as I’ve been asking you to subscribe to it!

Hope you’re enjoying the golden russet glow of Autumn or if you’re in the southern hemisphere the glow of Spring.

Cindyx

PS: I’m also now doing a quarterly music Spotify playlist of new and old music that I’ve been enjoying. A pretty diverse mix of tunes. Check out my Autumn list here http://preview.tinyurl.com/y8hdps5f

June 8, 2017

The Pressures of a Photo Shoot – Getting the Perfect Image That Says Who You Are

It’s been a while since I’ve had a formal photo shoot but having met Edinburgh based photographer Jannica Honey some weeks before, I felt pretty relaxed at the prospect of having a session with her.  For starters she makes me laugh, cry (happy tears!) and talk and talk and talk. In fact, if I was worried about anything it was whether we’d get any photographs taken for all the talking we do! I needn’t have worried.

There’s so much to think about when getting photo’s taken for marketing purposes.  First is, what’s your budget? (Images last a long time and are vital in the entertainment sector so we have to spend as much as we can afford and not scrimp.) For what purpose are they going to be used for and how are they going to be used? How many do you need? What are you wanting to communicate? What’s the project about? Is there a ‘look’ or a theme? Not forgetting, that very important question what clothes/colours am I going to look best in?!  You know the usual, ‘does my bum look big in this’, ‘does this show my bingo wings’? 😉

The answer for me was to give Jannica samples of the music, copies of lyrics and an idea of what my vision is for me within the project, ie this is about the strength and power of women, young and old, the mystical, the nurturing, the inner witch. It made a huge difference having spent some time together previously as she had a pretty good idea of my personality. Being such an experienced professional portrait photographer and working as a music photographer too, Jannica seems to know very quickly what kind of shots are going to work. So, although I don’t like getting my photograph taken, I did feel pretty comfortable knowing how she ‘got’ me. Mind you, I did ask for soft focus and touch ups but she refused!

We spent an afternoon and early evening with me changing in and out of various outfits I’d brought with me. Clothes that I felt comfortable in and which helped express who I am. Plus I brought my wonderful set of horns which I’d bought from Claire’s Accessories last Halloween but had never worn and which I was desperate to play with.

I have to say, it was a blast and I think I want to be a model now. Ha, no! But we did have a fun time of it and I have some stunning photographs taken in her studio and taken in a field. Not the field Jannica took us on an adventure to find – she’d planned for us to shoot in a field of rape but the farmer had farmed it so we drove round miles looking for another one!  The photographs taken outdoors almost look like I’m on a stage set but I assure you they were really taken outside and have not been touched up.

I’ve added some of the photo’s to the Photos page on the website so please check them out and let me know what you think.  I’ve yet to decide which one(s) will be used for the Chrysalis Project. Yet more decisions, decisions, decisions ….

As a final though, it’s interesting and revealing that all the best experiences I’ve had have been as a result of the people I’ve worked and connected with. I get so inspired by working with them and observing their creativity, passion and commitment to what they do.  It also helps hugely if they make me laugh. 😀

Thank you Jannica!

Photographer Jannica Honey

Jannica Honey

And thank you for taking time to check in here. I hope you have people in your life inspiring you right now.

Cindyx

May 22, 2017

Chrysalis Video Reveal Time!

As always, worthwhile plans take longer to put into action than you first think.  When I first thought about embarking on a project to write new compositions and collaborate with other women, it seemed like it would be a straightforward path.  However, when you work with other people, have family responsibilities and have the challenges of different geographic locations (me in NE of Scotland, just about everyone else in London!), you can’t ever make a fixed timeline work. You have to learn to be patient and flexible.  Not really how you’d describe me. Haha. Sometimes, things seem to go so slowly that you think you’re never going to get there. I guess it just makes it all the more worthwhile when you do, right?

So, after months of writing and collaborating with Janette Mason, the songs are now written and we’ve also spent time with some fab musicians working through the material, refining and developing them even more. It was such a delight to work with a group of accomplished, generous, enthusiastic and communicative women.  I can’t express just how special it was to spend time with them!  Between them, they brought years of experience and lots of ideas.  The ideal people to collaborate with. So thank you Janette Mason, Julie Walkington, Sophie Alloway and Josefina Cupido.

Having fun making some new sounds.

Having spent only a couple of days rehearsing and working through some of our material as a group. We then spent a day at the Hideaway Jazz Club in London, filming and recording several songs for marketing the project.  The videos will be posted over the next little while but here’s a little taster for you, this is the compilation promo video:

Now the work is on to bring it to an audience. So watch out!

Cindyx

October 14, 2016

Creative Scotland Award for Chrysalis Project

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.

Background

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? 😉

Collaboration

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!

Links

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:

http://www.janettemason.com

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

https://www.instagram.com/cindydouglasmusic/

https://uk.pinterest.com/cdouglas0525/

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.

Cindyx

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!

Cindyx

 

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.

Cindyx

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! 😉

Cindyx

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. 😉

Cindyx

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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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