Multi award-winning vocalist and radio presenter Claire Martin is masterminding a three-day Celebration of Jazz Vocalists at Shoreham’s Ropetackle.
On Friday, January 24, she welcomes Norma Winstone; on Saturday, January 25, she welcomes Emma Smith; and on Sunday, January 26, she welcomes Ian Shaw. At some point, Claire will join all three on stage.
Partly the series is also a celebration of the survival of the Ropetackle. Claire is a keen supporter: “It is absolutely amazing the way everyone has rallied around.
“So I just wanted to put some jazz in there without having huge help from the Arts Council.”
Claire previously ran a January jazz festival at the venue, but the funding ran out: “So I wanted just to present three nights with three very different jazz singers and call it a vocal weekend.
“The jazz festival has probably gone. It became so difficult. We didn’t get the Arts Council funding for our fifth event. It took the wind out of our sails. We decided to rest it, but rather than have no jazz in January, this is my baby."
Instead she will see how the jazz weekend goes and then take it from there.
“I chose the three because I wanted a great range of singers. I wanted to showcase Norma, who is in her 70s and is a real legend and is so well respected. She must be celebrated because she is singing so well and as well as ever. I wanted to celebrate her and all her achievements.”
An up and coming star vocalist with a great following in London, Emma Smith will be next up, making her Ropetackle debut with Claire firmly championing her as she sings the Great American Songbook with her own soulful and bluesy delivery which is winning her fans all over the world.
Emma is making sure the jazz flame is burning brightly and is in good hands, Claire says.
“Emma I chose because I wanted to represent the young generation that has been inspired by Norma’s music.
“Emma is one of the greatest young talents I have heard for a long time. She is a natural musician. She is savvy and she is smart, and she has got star quality. She has just got it. She is fun and she respects the art form.”
Completing the series is Ian Shaw, a multi-award-winning singer, pianist, actor and stand-up comedian.
He is internationally acclaimed and two-times winner of the BBC Jazz Awards Best Vocalist.
Ian also presents a weekly radio show for Ronnie Scott’s and is one of the world’s finest male jazz vocalists with an extraordinary range and wonderful way with audiences, Claire says.
“He is guaranteed to have you eating out of the palm of his hand!
“I am great friends with Ian. I thought I had better have him along! He is the best male jazz singer in the country.
“Ian is dynamic. He is energetic. He is hugely funny. He is unique. He has got an amazing vocal range, and he picks songs where the arrangements are smart and clever.
“He is someone I have worked with for years and years.
“And so I will just see how it goes this year. If it goes well, we will be looking at doing it again.”
Tickets for the series are available from the Ropetackle.