New York star comes home to sing at International Upton Jazz Festival

Sally Night

Sally Night - Credit: Archant

She’s the darling of the New York jazz scene – with a pad in Upton-upon-Severn.

Sally Night

Sally Night - Credit: Archant

And that relentless energy, relentless optimism of the Big Apple, coupled with the laid-back vibe of long summers in France - which she also calls home - shines through in Sally Night’s music.

Critics call her a “remarkable talent” and an “effervescent live performer”, and she’ll be delivering her sweet, sassy, sultry swing vocals to next month’s Upton International Jazz Festival.

Sally has been immersed in music since she was small.

She started singing in church in Kemerton, near Bredon, where she grew up and trained classically, singing in musicals and with the D’Oyly Carte and National operas. But jazz was her first love.

“As a kid I listened to everything from classical music to opera, jazz, blues, pop, soul and funk,” says Sally who, when she’s not singing, has a passion for racing classic cars.

“But I listened to jazz often with my parents. They had beautiful voices, knew all the jazz standards and popular songs and sang them around the house and sometimes at local venues.”

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She studied music, art and design and business at college. And after a stint working for the British Consulate in South Africa, she moved to France to study French, and forged a successful career in magazine publishing.

But the music bug wouldn’t go away, and nine years ago she decided to pursue her passion once more, moving to New York.

Her four albums, produced to critical acclaim, feature new arrangements of songs by Cole Porter and Duke Ellington, George and Ira Gershwin, Irving Berlin and Louis Armstrong.

“They were my idols,” she says. “Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole, Rodgers & Hart, Sarah Vaughan . . .”

So how has the industry changed?

“I only started performing and recording jazz in 2007,” she says. “As an indie singer/songwriter it has pros and cons. It gives you the liberty to release and distribute your own recordings on your own label, but it’s harder than ever to get backing from record labels and distribution companies and radio stations and make money from your recordings.

“They need to be more proactive and helpful in nurturing and investing in new talent.”

Sally, who has an apartment in Upton-upon-Severn, says she expects a lot of herself on stage, describing her music as “a soulful quest to give joy” and transport her listeners to another place.

“Whatever I perform, record or compose, I try to reach the highest standard possible and at the same time respect and reflect the many greats who have gone before me,” she says.

“For me, music is a gift and a blessing and enables me to communicate and share my feelings with many people all over the world. I and all musicians have a huge responsibility to respect the compositions and melodies of others we perform.”

So what can we expect from Sally at Upton, where she’s appearing with the Craig Milverton Trio?

“We hope to give the festival audience a joyful and refreshing overview of swing, jazz and blues,” she says. “And share our passion for a selection of old, loved songs as well as new original songs.

“I’d like to thank the organisers for bringing me home to share my music with the many people who have been following and supporting me in my career.”

Alongside Sally on the start-studded festival bill are the likes of Remi Harris, George Huxley, John Shillito and Sammy Rimington in a programme which starts with European and gypsy jazz and runs through swing and boogie woogie, trad, hot club and New Orleans.

Expect a dedicated dance section, Mardi Gras-style parades through the streets, up-and-coming talent in the Best of Young Jazz marquee, a food and beer festival and festival village with bars, music venues, trade stands and camping.

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The International Upton Jazz Festival takes place from June 27-29 in Upton-upon-Severn. Day tickets cost from £25, weekend tickets from £70. Until May 31, discounted early bird tickets are available.

Visit www.sallynight.com, www.uptonjazz.co.uk or call 01684 593254.

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