Monday, 21 October 2013

Truth or Dare "unplugged"

This song is the title track from my first album. Now that I've got the new ukulele, I decided to make an "unplugged" acoustic version of it. Hope you like it.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

A beautiful new uke a lovely joint early birthday present from my Grandad, my husband Brian, and the people of Doncaster who threw coins into my case, I am now in possession of a rather beautiful new tenor ukulele. I have some exciting plans for the uke and I, which I will reveal when the time is right.
For now, let me just say a huge 'thank you' to my Grandad, to Brian, and to the passers-by in Doncaster today who all helped to bring this beautiful uke into my life. You rock.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Updated: Busking repertoire

It's been a few months now since I first busked on the streets of Doncaster. My red book full of songs is much heavier, and I know all sorts of chords on the ukulele these days. C#m7b5? No problem. In fact, a new era is about to begin. I've chosen a lovely new uke at Electro Music - a proper uke - and soon I'll be getting my hands on it. So, no more playing around with a laminated purple instrument.

Here's my updated list of busking repertoire:

Angel - Sarah McLachlan
Spooky - Dusty Springfield
I Get a Kick Out of You - Ella Fitzgerald
Blowing in the Wind - Bob Dylan
Mad World - Gary Jules
Let It Be - The Beatles
Hallelujah - John Cale
You're So Vain - Carly Simon
Strong Enough - Sheryl Crow
Wade in the Water - Eva Cassidy
Imagine - John Lennon
Rainy Night in Georgia - Randy Crawford
The Rose - Bette Midler
Amazing Grace - traditional
You're Still the One - Shania Twain
What Can I Do - The Corrs
Night and Day - Frank Sinatra
Streets of London - Ralph McTell
You've Got a Way - Shania Twain
Autumn Leaves - Eva Cassidy
Build Me Up Buttercup - Temptations
Come Away With Me - Norah Jones
Fields of Gold - Eva Cassidy
I Can't Make You Love Me - Bonnie Raitt
Warwick Avenue - Duffy
Save the Best For Last - Vanessa Williams
The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face - Roberta Flack

I'm also working on:
Black Horse and the Cherry Tree - KT Tunstall
Mercy - Duffy
Days - Kirsty MacColl

And the next ones on the slate are:
It's Too Late - Carole King
Across the Universe - Fiona Apple
Rescue Me - Fontella Bass
The Look of Love - Dusty Springfield
Stand By Me - Ben E. King
Come Fly With Me - Frank Sinatra
I'm So Excited - Pointer Sisters
Son of a Preacher Man - Dusty Springfield
The Letter - Eva Cassidy
Nothing Compares - Sinead O'Connor
Moon River - Audrey Hepburn
Both Sides Now - Joni Mitchell
Love and Affection - Joan Armatrading

Friday, 5 July 2013

The first successful busk

After getting hold of a small busking amp, I decided to have another go at busking yesterday.

It was dramatically different this time, because people could now hear me. Immediately people began to sit on benches, watching me. Children pulled at their parents' hands, begging them to stop and listen. The coins and the compliments flowed, along with the inevitable heckle or two. I don't mind them. I know my voice is okay, even though I'm a bit wet around the ears when it comes to playing the ukulele.

Tomorrow I brave the streets of Doncaster again, and we shall see what a busy day is like in this job.

Monday, 1 July 2013

The first busk

Did my first ever busking session today in Doncaster.

Setting up
Strumming and singing away

Things I learnt about busking:
  • Pretty much no-one can hear you if you aren't amplified.
  • Choose a pitch that is RIGHT next to where people walk past on the way to something.
  • Teenage boys are idiots (but I've known that one since I was a teenager myself).
  • Don't sing songs that are in the lower end of your register. People only pay attention when you hit the high notes.
  • If you have music or lyrics on a stand, they will blow away. Mine were in a display book and it kept falling off. Next time, I will take pegs with me.
Since no-one could hear me and almost no-one walked particularly near me, I didn't earn much.

Earnings from my first day of busking
Nevertheless, I'm eager to try again and apply some of what I've learnt to my next busking session. One lovely thing about the day was the chap who saw me later, and said he didn't have any change but he really enjoyed my singing. That was worth far more than a quid.

Friday, 28 June 2013

Licensed to be a wandering minstrel

So there you go, I am licensed to busk in Doncaster. You may come to know me as the girl in the purple hat, with the purple ukulele.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Busking repertoire

Here's my busking repertoire so far. It's a bit of a mixed bag but definitely my style, with a smattering of jazz, soul, and gospel in there amongst the rest.
  • I Get a Kick Out of You, by Frank Sinatra
  • Spooky, by Dusty Springfield
  • You're So Vain, by Carly Simon
  • Angel, by Sarah McLachlan
  • You're Still the One, by Shania Twain
  • Hallelujah, by John Cale
  • Streets of London, by Ralph McTell
  • Rainy Night in Georgia, by Randy Crawford
  • Amazing Grace, traditional
  • Strong Enough, by Sheryl Crow
  • Black Horse and the Cherry Tree, by KT Tunstall
  • Blowing in the Wind, by Bob Dylan
  • Imagine, by John Lennon
  • Wade in the Water, by Eva Cassidy

Naughty Hollie

Yes, naughty Hollie hasn't updated her blog in four months. You could be forgiven for thinking nothing has happened around here. Well, it's not true. Here's what's been going on:

The Morrells - a cocktail covers duo in Yorkshire

Brian and I have been rehearsing like mad, getting our act together for our piano and vocal covers duo which will soon be performing at hotels, restaurants, weddings and conferences around Yorkshire. There is some info about the duo here and we also have a new Facebook page. We only have 11 likes so far, so we'd love it if you could give us another lovely like!

As if you would let ink fall onto your piano!

I'm continuing to write new songs now and then, and although I usually hide new stuff until I feel it's completely "ready", this newest batch is on show even though it's still raw. Head on over for a listen and please do give your feedback. There's a place to add comments at the bottom of every page.

My new favourite instrument
I've tried for years to play guitar, without much success. My fingers won't physically stretch to make certain shapes, and I have particular trouble with bar chords. So when I saw this cute little ukulele in a charity shop during a recent trip to Scotland, I thought I'd try it out. It's much smaller than a guitar, so my fingers don't have to stretch as far. I was delighted to find that I learnt the chord shapes quickly and can even play a few bar chords on this little baby. So it's time to finally realise a dream of mine.
I need a sexy hat too

Now that I have found my perfect busking instrument, it's time to take it out onto the street. I know this won't be easy. They say that a busker's audience is the most honest audience of all. This will be a great way for me to test Joe Public's reaction to certain songs. I will entertain (and in some cases annoy) them, and in return they will teach me.

My local town of Doncaster operates a permit scheme for buskers, so I had to fill in an application form, send it in with two passport photos, and then I got invited for an audition. It's this Wednesday. If all goes well and I'm issued with my busker's permit, I may just go straight out onto the street and do my thing.

Wish me luck.

Monday, 25 February 2013

The new website has arrived!

A swanky new design and LOTS of new songs to listen to, including "works in progress" and new versions of old favourites.

I'm still tweaking the odd bit here and there, and have just added a comments system. Looking forward to hearing what you have to say.

Hollie Sheard Morrell - Singer, songwriter and composer from Doncaster

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Organising my head, never an easy task

Still hard at work on that new website design, and it's proving to be a big task. Each song, even if still in progress, has its very own page with lyrics, a music player, performer information, prizes won, and where applicable other versions of the song such as live renditions. I've come across a few old songs where I just don't want to showcase that dodgy recording that I made in 2008. So, some songs are even getting a new lease of life with a new recording or a new mix. The compositions part of the website is similar, with each piece on show along with keywords about genre, feel, and instruments, plus info on what cut-down versions are available for media use. It turns out I never finished the cut-downs, so I have more work to do on that. Another section is all about the new duo, so there'll be some piano/vocal renditions of a few cover songs on there.

All in all, building this site is helping me to get everything organised and pull everything together in one place, so it's a Very Good Thing.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

New website design (again)

I said to myself last time, "This is the last time."

"I'm never doing another new website design. This is it."

But unfortunately, while I still like the aesthetic design of my current website, I can't fit much information into such a simple format. And what with my compositions, my new cocktail duo, and my decision to include lyrics and other stuff for each song, I've got a lot more information these days.

So I'm working on another website design. Again. Here's a preview:

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Oh yes, I FIXED the studio

After two days of hard work the studio is fixed and back up and running.

It turned out to be a conflict between the sound card and the midi interface. Luckily we already had another MIDI interface lying around, otherwise I would never have tried swapping them, so would never have discovered the problem.

A side-effect of all this is that the studio is tidier, better organised, dust-free, no longer has unnecessary cables lying around, and the computer has had lots of little niggling problems sorted out during my search for an answer.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Oh dear, I broke the studio

well, the recording studio has wheezed its last breath, just when I need it now more than ever. Not sure what's wrong exactly, but when I open up Cubase I don't hear anything. I've been through the settings and connections with a fine tooth-comb, but can't find the problem. I think it's time to accept that the system is unstable, and needs replacing. I just hope I can salvage all my music sessions.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Songwriters' Talent Exchange

Just set up a new Facebook page which is doing spectacularly well. It's called Songwriters' Talent Exchange and it's for songwriters all around the world to get together and help each other to write and record better songs.

I came up with the idea when chatting with other entrants to the UK Songwriting Contest, many of whom said things like 'I've entered a song but I can't really sing so I don't think it'll do very well' or 'I sing but don't play any instruments so it doesn't sound very good' and it occurred to me that if songwriters help each other, we can all make better recordings of our songs. There's also an opportunity for co-writers to collaborate on writing songs.

It's early days but the page has gathered a lot of interest already and I hope that we can get a great community going.