HOW IT BEGAN....
I was a painfully shy kid. I preferred the company of animals and 'Star Trek' re-runs than real people! I was the local 'nerd' (but looking back, I'm proud of that fact!).
We lived on a street called 'Plumpers Road' that comprised of only 3 houses, a cafe on the corner and The 'Plumpers' pub directly opposite.
All 3 houses were in the family, too!
Grandma & Grandad owned all 3 houses and lived in number 6. My Aunt, Uncle and 4 kids were in number 4, while we lived in number 2.
The arrangements changed over the years. When my aunt moved away, we moved into number 4 as it was bigger and a lady named Wendy moved into number 2; She had an amazing voice, with kids who all had amazing voices, too!
It was like living next to the real life Von Trapp family!
Tinsley was industrial, run down and right next to some of the busiest routes in Sheffield, thanks to the nearby 'Meadowhall' Shopping Centre and M1 Motorway, but it was home and I have some treasured memories from that time of my life.
The houses have since been knocked down but the cafe remains!
As often as I could, I'd travel with them to help set up the equipment and watch the show.
It was during these shows that I realised that I didn't want to just be watching the show, but to be a PART of it!!
BUILDING THE DREAM
As I got older, we moved to a different area and I started to work on my voice, privately in my bedroom, before gaining the confidence to start filming my progress and sharing the videos on social media sites. My confidence grew as I began to receive support from people all over the world.
The next step was to try singing in front of more people, face to face, something which still terrified me!
at every available opportunity, I'd get up at local karaoke bars and parties.
The more I did it, the more relaxed I became and the more I enjoyed it!
ELTON JOHN & CROSSFIRE
I did one public performance for Crossfire and that was 'Oxford Pride 2012'. It was also the day that I signed my deal (in the middle of a field!).
It was a great day and I learned a lot, like how to sing with wind blowing in your face (as it was an outdoor event!)
I lost my breath during one of the songs.
It must've sounded horrendous but the audience helped me to laugh it off.!
In 2011, my videos and recordings were seen by Crossfire Management and caught the ears of Sir Elton John, who gave his personal approval for me to re-release one of his songs (Original Sin) as an EP cover.
At the same time, I was still getting up and singing publicly as much as I could to gain more and more experience as stage fright was crippling me.
During one trip to Portugal, I sang in the same bar every night and at the end of the shows, holiday makers from England came up to me, telling me that they wanted to see me touring around the UK when they got home.
That filled me with confidence and I finally decided to go for it!!
FACING FEARS - PUBLIC SINGING
I had so many misconceptions in my head about the elderly and music.
I imagined quiet rooms full of sadness, ballads and loss.
What I found was quite the opposite! They didn't just want war time ballads. They wanted to DANCE and party!
I was shocked but delighted! That's when I realised, when these people were younger, their kind of music would've been Rock 'N' Roll and Doo-Wap, not 1930's ballads!
I LOVE that style of music, so I adjusted my set list accordingly.
THE ALAN WOOD AGENCY
At the same time as all of this, I had begun working for the Alan Wood Agency, solo singing in pubs and clubs.
I'd sing in care homes during the day and then the bars at night. The more gigs I could get, the better.
It was addictive and I was loving every second!
Occasionally, the audience would ask for a duet so I'd invite my Mother up on stage with me.
I always enjoyed those moments and so did the audience!
My life had changed!
I was suddenly in a world of photo shoots, dressing rooms and travelling around all over the place.
I didn't know where I was, one minute to the next!
As if all this wasn't enough, at the same time, I was also finishing my debut album, 'THIS ROAD' for Crossfire Management.
The album was a covers album (Except for 1 track, 'This Road', which I wrote the lyrics for but was composed by Paul Britt) and was being distributed by Sony so I felt a great pressure to get it right. Most of it was recorded at home as Crossfire preferred the sound that I had with my equipment but I also spent some time in the studio. I found studio recording to be a very cold and stressful experience. I was too used to being in control of my own sound!
The album was
finally released in 2012 as a download and was, in my eyes, a success! I
was actually earning money from music, but more importantly, no matter
what, I could always say that I had released an album.
That's one dream that had come true and can never be un-done!
A SET BACK - TAKING TIME OUT
I couldn't get a sound out. It was an extremely scary experience. I had been fine all that day and still felt fine at the time, but something just gave out.
I got myself to the doctors, which lead to them putting a camera down my throat (Endoscopy).
The diagnosis was 'Vocal Nodules', which, in case you don't know, are polyps on the vocal chords. I couldn't even speak down a phone! Their opinion was, I'd done too much, too soon, but after further tests, they revealed that my singing technique was technically correct. It was my speaking voice that had caused the damage.
Over the course of over a year, I had to stop singing altogether, only speak when necessary and see a speech therapist to re-build my voice. I was devastated!
Plans for a second album with Crossfire were scrapped and I fell into a depression. It may sound dramatic to some, but in my eyes, singing was the only thing that I was any good at. It was the only constant in my life and now, I'd lost it. I felt disabled! I WAS disabled.
I couldn't speak and I'd lost my best friend!
2014 & BEYOND
In mid 2014, I realised that, because of my vocal problems, I'd developed a fear of singing! It took me months to find confidence to even gently rehearse, but I eventually did. it felt and sounded a little different than before, but I realised that my voice was still there somewhere and just needed excercise, so I slowly began to sing once a week, slowly increasing to twice a week, to every few days, then every couple of days. Before I knew it, I was back in action.
Since then, the more I've sung, the stronger my voice is getting.
I have more shows now than ever before and plenty coming up. I'm nervous, but this time, I'll take it much steadier and remember to take time out every now and then.
2014/15 were amazing years for me and 2016 has continued to be! It's great to be back and singing for old venues again and i'm very thankful to all my new ones!
Me and Mum still sing together but we also do our own solo shows, too. It's worked out much better like this as we can now be in two places at the same time. She's even been back up on stage with me for the odd song in clubs, too!
I enjoy singing with Mum because one day, I know the time will come where I'd love to be singing with her again and I can't. I don't want to look back and wish I had while I had the chance. Gotta make the most of everything while we can!
I've learned to never take advantage of anything in life again, because you never know when it could be taken from you!