Not many people can say they’ve performed for the Queen on a cruise ship in the Caribbean. Starlet in the making Harriet Eaves can. The busy young jazz singer, who also toured with Manchester rock band James, is recording her second EP which is due to be released in May. We were lucky enough to grill her on her inspirations, her favourite London hangouts, and her plans for the future.
Thank you very much! I’ve been singing for about 15 years (from the age of about seven) but have only been doing jazz for the last three years. Before that I studied Opera and Flute at Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester. And before that I sang in children’s choirs and played in wind and concert bands with the fabulous Rochdale Music Service. Quite an eclectic musical education but I think that in a small way everything that I learnt at an early age has had an influence upon my jazz sound today!
How would you describe your music?
I would describe my music, in a nutshell, as ‘vintage inspired modern jazz’. But I love so many different styles of music that I try and cover all genres of music with my own jazzy twist. When performing I try and play a mixture of slow, smoky ballads and more up-tempo toe-tapping numbers to get people up and dancing!
Your international debut was in Trinidad and Tobago – how did that come about?
Well, while studying my A Levels at Chetham’s the opportunity arose to travel to Trinidad and Tobago as part of the Commonwealth Resounds organisation to provide musical entertainment at the bi-annual Commonwealth Conference. I was successful in my application and so travelled to the beautiful Caribbean Islands where I sang jazz on a cruise ship for the Governmental heads of over 30 countries including our own Queen! It was an incredible if not slightly surreal experience and an absolute pleasure to perform alongside some of the top young musicians in the world!
Do you have any musical inspirations – if so, who?
I have so many musical inspirations, but I think it was the wonderful Amy Winehouse who first inspired me to sing jazz. From then on I found Nina Simone, Billie Holiday, Julie London, Ella Fitzgerald, Etta James and then more recent female jazz singers like Diana Krall, Melody Gardot and Madeleine Peyroux. I adore them all and always enjoy comparing how they sing jazz standards like Black Coffee, Cry Me a River and I Loves You Porgy; all of which appeared on my first EP which was recorded last year.
What’s your proudest moment as an artist to date?
That’s a very tricky question! I think my proudest moment to date was singing as a backing singer and featured soloist for my dad’s favourite band James on their sell-out tour where I performed at the M.E.N. Arena (now Phones 4U Arena) in Manchester, for an audience of 23,000 people. The look of pride on his face afterwards was one I’ll never forget!
Your second EP, The One For Me, is coming out next month. Could you tell us about it?
The One For Me is an eclectic mix of original songs written by my fabulous pianist/musical director Nathan Jarvis, classic jazz standards and new jazzy arrangements of pop songs like you’ve never heard them before!
Where in London did you grow up?
I actually grew up in Rochdale, a town on the outskirts of Manchester, but knew from quite an early age that, as a performer, London was calling me and I’m so happy to be here now!
We love London, especially east London. What’s your favourite spot in east London?
I love wandering round Brick Lane, which reminds me so much of my home in Rusholme, Manchester’s great ‘Curry Mile’ where I lived whilst studying at Manchester University. And there are so many lovely vintage shops to explore with hidden treasures and I can’t resist hunting for a bargain!
What is your favourite thing about living in London?
I really like the contrast between the hustle and bustle of central London’s busy shopping streets and how you can then just turn a corner and find yourself in a lush leafy park. I’m also a big fan of people watching and in London there are so many colourful characters that there’s never a dull moment! As a northerner I had heard horror stories about deathly silent tube journeys but I have found that the people of London are incredibly friendly and helpful as I get lost on the underground all the time and have always managed to find some lovely person to help me on my way!
Where can people go to find out more about you?
They can visit my wonderful new website designed by Steve Dennison at www.harrieteaves.co.uk, follow me on twitter @harrieteaves and like my Facebook page Harriet Eaves Music for updates. My new EP, The One For Me, will be available for iTunes download from May! Hope you like it!