INTERVIEW: Beverley Beirne



Beverley Beirne


NOT too many Jazz artists pass my way…


so it is good to learn more about Beverley Beirne and covering the songs Too Shy and Cruel Summer. She talks about the album, Jazz Just Wants to Have Fun, and what it was like working on the record; what Yorkshire is like for a talented and busy musician – Beirne tells me about upcoming gigs.

I ask her how the music has developed since the early days and what we might expect from her live sets; if there are newer artists we need to keep an eye out for; how she spends her time outside of music – Beirne talks about covering Pop songs from the '70s and '80s on her new album.


Hi, Beverley. How are you? How has your week been?

Hi there. Great, thank you! Super-busy. I’m launching my new album, J.J.W.T.H.F., next week and things are hotting up. I’ve just spotted our music is on Amazon’s Hot New Releases too which is really great.

For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?

My name is Beverley Beirne. I’m a Jazz singer from Yorkshire and my new album, Jazz Just Wants to Have Fun, is a bit different. Not your usual Jazz standards but twelve '70s and '80s Pop tunes that I’ve played with and done Jazz arrangements for.


Give me a sense of the artists you experienced growing up. Which musicians stand in the mind?

It was very eclectic. My parents loved music but their tastes were very different. Dad liked Classical and Jazz and Mum liked Country, '70s and '80s we’d have Ravel’s Bolero, Tchaikovsky; Ella Fitzgerald and Erroll Garner - and, next, we’d have Glen Campbell and ABBA.

Talk to me about recording Too Shy/Cruel Summer. What led you to record the tracks?

These two tracks are part of my new album, Jazz Just Wants to Have Fun. I chose these tracks, like all of the tracks on the album, with a lot of joy to start with because they’re great tunes but they also had to transpose into a Jazz format. So, quite a lot of tinkering at the piano and partying to these tunes…

It seems like Jazz is a big part of your life. Is there something about the history and genre that captivates you?

The music was a part of my life because Dad was a big fan but I also loved all the old black-and-white movies and, of course, a lot of those Fred Astaire movies and Rodgers and Hammerstein films were the original source of the songs that we now call ‘Jazz standards’ in the Jazz world.


Might we get some more material later in the year?

The full Jazz Just Wants to Have Fun album comes out on Friday, 15th June, so that will be available for people to check out if they like the idea of this. But, I’m also recording another album which is a bit more full-on Jazz this summer and I have one in the can that I also recorded at the same time as .J.J.W.T.H.F. called Dream Dancer - so that’s one to look out for too.

Can we see you tour this year? What gigs do you have coming along?

I’m launching at Ronnie Scott’s on Thursday, 14th June and planning an autumn and spring tour this year. But, you can also see me at Ilkley Jazz Festival this year performing the project I’m recording in June, The Ilkley Suite

But, keep a look out for tour dates for J.J.W.T.H.F. on the website.


If we came and saw you play; what would the live show consist in terms of material and feel?

It depends what project I’m performing. J.J.W.T.H.F. is very upbeat and fun but it is Jazz with a definite Jazz vibe. The Ilkley Suite is an original- composed piece which is more improvisational Jazz and will include me using my voice as an instrument in wordless form.

Dream Dancer is a mixture of upbeat and mellow tunes; very atmospheric. But, whatever I perform, I love engaging with my audience: the audience is very important to me.

How do you think your material has progressed since the start? Is Yorkshire and its people/geography a source of influence for you?

I’ve definitely grown as an artist without a doubt. Some of that is time and just experience really. I’m a lot more experienced. But, yes, I do think your surroundings have an influence on you. It’s no secret that I love Yorkshire and my hometown of Ilkley, which is very beautiful - and I love the wildness of the moors and we definitely get ‘weather’ up here. It can make you a bit insular, sometimes, I’d say.

But, then again, the Yorkshire folk are some of the friendliest people on the planet so, as soon as you step outside your door, there’s always someone to say ‘hello’ to.


What do you hope to achieve in 2018?

More Jazz; more singing! Now we’re getting the new album out there, I want to head off and perform as much as I can wherever any good people will have us (and just really enjoy that). I love performing and I get a real kick out of it, so now’s the time to really do that with this great music we’ve created.

Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?

I have so many! Being in the studio for J.J.W.T.H.F. and Dream Dancer, which we recorded in one week, has to be up there as one of the musical highlights of my life. We recorded J.J.W.T.H.F. first and Jason Miles, an amazing N.Y. Grammy-winning producer, had come over to produce the albums for me. Me, Jason and the band were in Red Gables Studio, London and we were totally immersed in this music. Two days of J.J.W.T.H.F. and two days of Dream Dancer - with a couple of days listening back to J.J.W.T.H.F. 

The legend saxophonist Duncan Lamont is guesting on Dream Dancer for two of his songs I sing and he came in to play on them - and that was pretty special too. It was a totally magical week. Some great memories.


Which three albums mean the most to you, would you say?

There are way too many, but here are three I love that has been in my collection for some years…

Sketches of Spain - Miles Davis

So atmospheric and amazing musicianship.

Soulcall - Nnenna Freelon

I saw Nnenna at Ronnie’s many years ago and she’s a great artist.

Candyfloss & Medicine - Eddi Reader

Fantastic original music, great lyrics too - and Eddi is another great artist.

What advice would you give to new artists coming through?

Follow your heart and your own gut instinct. No matter what. Get out and perform as much as you can, as no amount of study can replace practical learning and experience. Saying that...always be prepared; practise and practise (and practise) so you’re really comfortable performing.


IN THIS PHOTO: Nnenna Freelon

Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

I love Nnenna Freelon. She’s a great singer. Also, Tierney Sutton and a young singer called Aubrey Logan (who is fantastic).


IN THIS PHOTO: Aubrey Logan

Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?

My unwinding often consists of a nice bottle of wine with my husband and listening to great music. But, I also really love reading, so I do read a lot of books. I like walking in the beautiful countryside too. I also love going to the pictures.

Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).

Any song! Hmm; let me think. Right now, I’d say Aubrey Logan’s song, U Can’t Touch This (MC Hammer); a Jazz cover from her new album, Impossible.

This resonates with me as my own new album is full of these kinds of tunes (that I’ve also done this kind of interpretation for). So, I really appreciate what she’s done with it. Fantastic artist.


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