Monday, 18 August 2014

Exciting contest results, upcoming launch, and 30-challenge update

UK Songwriting Contest 2014

I entered the UK Songwriting Contest this year with a lyrics-only entry. The song is called Sweeter Milk and is from my new album 'The Island', which will be released this September.

The first phase of the results were recently announced, and my song made it to the Semi-Finals so far. Only the top 20% of all contest entries make it to the Semi-Finals. Later in the year, it will continue to the following higher judging stages and there is a chance it may reach the Finals and might even be a Winner.
In the past I've made it to the Finalist stages and even been named a Runner-Up in the Jazz/Blues category in 2010. This year I have my fingers crossed for a win!

The song begins by detailing my personal struggles with Crohn’s Disease and dealing with debt. Then through the lyrics I remind myself that there are far worse problems in the world:

Feeling tired and so weak
I lie here in bed, and life is so bleak
I owe too much, I’m in breach
Everything I want seems out of reach
Somewhere East of England
There’s a girl runs fabric through her fingers
She works in the light, she works in the night
Then she lies on the floor, with five or six more

[Chorus:] I was born with gold in my hair
Breathing diamond dust for air
I was wrapped in cashmere and silk
Still I cried for sweeter milk
She and I were both born in November
The same year, but she won’t remember
She’s one child crying in her ear and two working on the floor
They’ll grow up just as poor
When obstacles seem overwhelming in size,
And other people look at me with pity in their eyes
All I need to do is think of that girl
And be thankful I was born into this world


Free Live Performance & Album Launch in Doncaster

My new album, including the above Semi-Finalist song ‘Sweeter Milk’ will be released this September, and to celebrate, there will be a free live performance with a full band. This will take place on Saturday 6th September at Doncaster Unitarian Church, Hall Gate, at 3pm. It's free entry and a soft drink and nibbles will be provided.

Expect sultry heartfelt vocals, thought-provoking lyrics, resonant electric piano, screaming blues guitar solos, and a melting-pot of ethnic percussion, drums, and acoustic bass. Genres include acoustic, blues, folk, jazz, and soul. This is not a religious event and all are welcome. Please check the website before travelling:

30 Challenges

Continuing with my 30-challenges-by-the-time-I-turn-30:

1. Build a new recording studio, with help from an online fundraising campaign - In Progress
This is now 19% funded and we will be able to add a big chunk to the fund in a month's time. This means that the computer for the recording studio is almost completed - just one small component left to buy - and then we can move on to things like mixing desk, audio interface, headphones, microphone, and software such as Cubase and East West virtual instruments. See the campaign here

2. Do an album launch gig to release my album "The Island" - In Progress

This is set for Saturday 6th September at Doncaster Unitarian Church on Hall Gate at 3pm. There's going to be a full band including myself on vocals and percussion, Brian Morrell on piano, Jonny Stott on guitar, and Craig Smith on a variety of instruments including drums, bass, and percussion.

We're really looking forward to this gig and will be pulling out all the stops to make it lots of fun for everyone attending. It's free entry and there will be a soft drink and nibbles provided.

Please check the website before travelling:

3. Attend a protest - DONE (see previous post)
4. Perform solo at an open mic night - DONE
I did this challenge not once but twice! The first time was on Wednesday 16th July at Cask Corner. I took my very heavy piano and accompanied myself singing two of my original songs from my album "The Island". It went okay, but I had a little trouble hearing myself. Then I went again the next week on the 23rd, this time with my ukulele. I performed a cover of Randy Crawford's Rainy Night in Georgia, and one of my own "The Island" from my album of the same name. The pub was pretty packed, but it went silent when I sang. I suppose that means they either loved or hated it!

5. Attend a class in radio production - DONE
This was something I saw at my local community radio station - a free introductory class to show people how things work at a radio station. I signed up online, and got an email asking me to come and have a chat. It turned out I probably won't be able to attend the class as it's several weeks in September, when my surgery is due. But because of my past experience and knowledge of music tech, they showed me how everything worked within half an hour, and before I knew what was happening, I had put together some ideas for a show and become a radio presenter! I did my first test show recently (listen here) and will need to do a few more until they think I'm ready to start broadcasting my show for real. So although I can't do the class, I think I've learned everything I would have done in the class, so I'm marking this challenge as done.

6. Spend a week without TV - DONE
This challenge was incredibly easy as my husband and I went on holiday to Scotland for a week in a self-catering apartment, and although the apartment had a TV, we just didn't feel like watching it. Instead we went on walks and enjoyed the beautiful scenery, visited the local Buddhist monastery a few times, nipped back down to England for a bit of shopping in Carlisle, read books, and played cards.

7. Read War & Peace - In Progress
This is a really long book, but I've managed a couple of chapters so far and I'm sure I'll manage it by the deadline.

8. Make a documentary - In Progress
I decided to do this documentary about the Buddhist monastery we visited in Scotland, so while we were there I recorded plenty of video. Now I need to add audio narration and compile it into a short documentary. This project will take a back seat for a while though, as I have plenty of other challenges to work on first.

9. Lose a stone in weight - In Progress
I'd already lost two stone when I set this challenge, and eventually I'd like to lose another two. For now though, I've just set the challenge of losing one more stone. So far, since I set the challenge I've lost half a stone, so there's another half to go.

10. Do a gig in an unusual place - DONE
At the weekend we went to visit Brian's Auntie Shirley, to fulfill a promise we made on her 80th birthday. We gave her a voucher promising to do a live performance just for her, and anyone she wanted to invite, in her living room. Her birthday was in November, so we waited until the summer for the nice weather, so her guests could mill around in the garden while we played from just inside the open French windows. It went very well, and we sold seven CDs which brought in a bit of cash towards the studio project (challenge 1).

11. Busk in my hometown (Pontefract) - To Do
Normally busking anywhere would be a challenge for most people, but I'm already a busker. So to make this challenge harder I chose my hometown of Pontefract, where I went to high school. They say no-one is appreciated in their home town!

Other possibilities for future challenges are:

Write a short story and attempt to get it published
Make a piece of visual art
Be a TV "extra" in something
Make a garment of clothing
Grow my own veg
Send a message in a bottle
Spend 12 hours doing nothing but writing songs (to get material for my next album)
Make a time capsule
Spend a night in a tent
Try a new class at the leisure centre
Make a music video

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