Exclusive interview with Clare Teal
by Chloe McLaughlin
Clare Teal is one of the UK’s best jazz singers. From her humble beginnings in Kildwick Yorkshire, Clare has gone on to perform across the country, win British Jazz Singer of the Year four times and even presents her own Radio 2 Sunday night show. Now, Clare is preparing to swing back into the north with her new show Swing’s The Thing which will visit
Harrogate Theatre on 8th February. But what can we expect from her latest show?
I think when the country is a little uneasy, music and entertainment becomes even more necessary because people just want to have fun or use it for escapism
“It’s a new show with a big mini big band which started out as a mini big band but then got bigger but it’s not as big as a big band!” Clare laughs, “It’s a hybrid band that gives a flavour of what big bands are about – the noise and excitement – but the band are all amazing soloists in their own right so at any moment we can break the band down to a smaller band.”
And in terms of music?
“The sky is the limit as to where we go for material. There’s always a good dollop of the 30s and 40s swing style as I absolutely love swing music, and those songs written during that time were built to last, but we’re also influenced by all the music that we have heard as individuals. Jason Rebello on piano has worked with Sting for six years and worked all over the world, as have most the guys and girls in the band, so they bring all their influences in. It’s a celebration of popular music over the last 100 years.”
Clare believes the live music experience is different to anything else you can experience and so much more than playing a record but she also believes that live music is increasingly important.
“I think when the country is a little uneasy, when things are going on and people feel unsettled whether it might be political or whatever is going on, you look through history – during the First World War, the Second World War and in America during The Great Depression – music and entertainment becomes even more necessary because people just want to have fun or use it for escapism.”
And jazz, a genre Clare has loved since childhood, couldn’t be more perfect as a fun escape from the world as Clare explains it’s never the same and is ‘always uplifting’. My job is to share the music I love with the people who want to hear it.”
We’re used to seeing Clare with her big band, belting out the very best jazz numbers but I wondered if she’d ever cross over and maybe go on tour with a rock band instead?
“I’m always open! Never say never! I love all kinds of music and I’m never scared of a challenge put it that way!” Clare beams, “I’m a big believer of jump on in there.
It’s good to be scared, it’s good to put yourself into an unfamiliar situation, being terrified every now and then doesn’t harm you!”
Clare has an extensive touring schedule and I wondered how she looks after herself whilst on tour? “Myself and my other half, Muddy, [Amanda Field] we try and eat really healthily. Around this time of year I am drinking ginger tea and eating lots of fruit. And what about a new year’s resolution?
“I haven’t even thought about it!” She laughs, “In January I’m so shattered by the time we finish because we are right up to the wire. January for me is seeing friends again, cooking, eating food together, that whole social thing as we don’t see anyone during December as it’s really busy.”
Before finding success on the jazz scene, Clare worked in telesales selling advertising after university and admits it’s the thought of going back to a normal job that drives her. “This is the greatest job in the world and it’s such good fun and different every day. You never know what’s coming and you get to meet loads of people, so I take every day as it comes and I’m really grateful for it.”
Yorkshire is very much one of those places that everybody is proud to come from
However, despite her reluctance to go back to the world of selling advertising, Clare is grateful for what her time in sales taught her.
“I think you learn a lot and I think it’s good for you to do something like that to realise how hard it is. It just focuses you to do what you want to do although that said I learnt a lot doing sales. I learnt to talk to absolutely everybody, I learnt to handle rejection and I learnt to talk about money.”
I’m coming to the end of my time with Clare but I can’t let her go without asking her about her Yorkshire roots. Clare has lived down south for many years, so I wondered if she still felt the same sense of Yorkshire pride and whether she thought it was important to keep hold of her northern roots?
“I do! I’m never not from Yorkshire. I spent my formative years there and I left when I was 18 but I am really proud of where I come from and I don’t think it ever leaves you. Yorkshire is very much one of those places that everybody is proud to come from. It has such a strong identity and we get everywhere!”
If you’d like to watch Clare at Harrogate visit harrogatetheatre.co.uk.