James Left (5)Wit and wisdom, pose and poise, from cheek to chic, from humour to hell in a handful of keys…

As a rather odd child of the 1960’s I grew up listening to the music of the 20’s and 30’s on my grandmother’s old wind-up gramophone. She taught ballroom dancing which was accompanied by a selection of antique pianists well versed in the traditions of stride piano. This period of music supplies my inheritance tracks or desert island discs. This music remains fresh, current/relevant and meaningful for me.

As a music therapist I experienced the power of song to express how we feel and who we are.

Sometimes a song can tell our story when we cannot express it ourselves.

Many songs from this period have coded meanings hiding behind an innocent façade, giving them a creative tension that I find inspiring. The harmony, an interval or a particular choice of chord may just illuminate the lyric and make the meaning clear.

Sondheim describes each song as a one-act play. As both singer and pianist one treads a tightrope between technical challenge and artistic opportunity.  At best there is the chance to discover a personal interpretation of the song – to colour every nuance and mine the song for its expressive potential.

Through performance I seek to cross the boundaries of age and gender to draw on life’s rich tapestry and the creative possibilities of the imagination. I aim to give an intensely personal account of songs that demand to be sung in telling the stories that unite us all: of archetypal and lived love, wit and wisdom, pain and laughter.