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Swing favourite Clare Teal comes to Norden Farm

Published: 4 Mar 2013 08:300 comments

If songstress Clare Teal wants to do something, she does it, and it is that fiesty yet warm and informed attitude that won her the coveted Big Band presenting slot on BBC Radio Two and the biggest recording contract of any British jazz singer, with Sony, in 2004.

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When The Guide spoke to the Big Band aficionado she was at home doing her washing, a far cry from the glitz and glamour of the showbiz world. But the softly-spoken Yorkshire woman took a break from domestic bliss to share stories from her life on the road with shiny new tour, Purveyors Of Sunshine, at Norden Farm, Maidenhead, on Saturday, March 9, at 8pm.

Clare told us: "I love touring, as there is always new stuff to perform. I love the spontaneity of working with jazz musicians, it's like 'let's do Agadoo'; I could, and in any key, because of the guys I'm working with."

Britain's queen of swing is joined on stage by a trio of musicians - Grant Windsor (piano and musical director), Simon Little (bass) and Ben Reynolds (drums) - who collectively play big band versions of classic songs, as well as original tracks, and Clare says: I pick [the songs] myself, but Grant is the musical director and he gets involved, too.

"He persuaded me to do [Snow Patrol hit] Chasing Cars, and it has done really well in Hong Kong and South East Asia. It wouldn't have occurred to me to tackle something like that as sometimes when jazz musicians do more poppy songs it can be hideous," she chuckles.

Nerves can be a test the best of us, and none more so than when the usually cool-as-a-cucumber Clare - whose ultimate musical hero is Ella Fitzgerald - performed on the 2011 BBC Proms at The Royal Albert Hall. She tells us: "I love performing Secret Love. I got to sing that at the Royal Albert Hall and it was the original Doris Day arrangement. It was absolutely magical. I nearly passed out with fear, but the video looks great. It was absolutely terrifying.

"I have the lyrical attention of a goldfish. I know 85% of a song, but never know which 85%!"

The recent success of women in music has not, Clare reveals, put more pressure on her shoulders, but she says: "I do believe in giving people who don't have a chance, a chance".

And this she did with a specially-formed community big band, which featured Olly Murs and Gregory Porter, for BBC's Children In Need.

"Our guys were rehearsing Troublemaker, not knowing the tune or the song, then they meet Olly and Troublemaker goes to number one - obviously because of us!" she laughs, and added: "I like helping people fit in, giving others a chance to do things, fit in and have a good time."

Of her much-loved Radio Two show she says: "I do genuinely have a passion and good knowledge. Just because I wasn't there [at the time] doesn't mean I don't care and hopefully the audience hear that."

She parted ways with Sony and now runs her own schedule, something she finds liberating. She's been swarn to secrecy over her upcoming plans, but is excited for her future - which appears to be glowing ever brighter.

Tickets are £16 from nordenfarm.org or by calling 01628 788997.

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