Jazz musician plans Piano Divas album

Picture by Mark Ludbrook

By the time most of you read this, jazz musician Wendy Kirkland will know whether or not she has been successful in crowd funding her first album Piano Divas.

For the last year she and her band, which includes her guitarist husband Pat Sprakes, have been gigging the show all over the country and one question they kept being asked was ‘Is there a CD?’.

“We always had to say ‘no’ so we realised it was time we did something about it, but we don’t have very deep pockets unfortunately and as unsigned artists it was always going to be difficult to make it happen – so we decided to turn to Kickstarter.

They were asking people to back us to the tune of £3,000 and raised nearly £600 in the first couple of weeks. The deadline for hitting the target was November 30.

Wendy, 48, describes the show and the album as like a tribute act to the likes of Diana Krall, Nina Simone, Eliane Elias and Blossom Dearie but it is much more than that as it features the singing and piano of a woman who has been likened to Krall herself.

Wendy, who is Chesterfield born and bred, began taking piano lessons aged eight. She was so promising she won a scholarship to have all her lessons paid for by Derbyshire Music and with their help achieved all her classical grades.

“It really did help me learn more than I might have done so I have always been grateful for that,” she said.

By the time she was a teenager Wendy was getting interested in jazz having read her Dad’s books on the likes of Dave Brubeck and when she eventually made the switch from classical she never looked back.

Not believing she would be able to make a living from music she studied mechanical engineering and got herself a job in computing and thought she would just continue to play for fun.

Eventually, though, the music started to take over and for the last 15 years Wendy has been a regular on the UK jazz scene playing at festivals and clubs all over the country.

She plays piano and Hammond organ and sings whilst accompanying herself. She also works as a session player.

Four years ago Wendy became the driving force behind the Chesterfield Jazz Club, which she launched with her husband.

“There was a folk club in the town but nothing for lovers of jazz and we thought it was an untapped market which needed filling so we decided to do something about it with the aim of bringing some of the best of the country’s players to the town.

“So far it has been great and more and more people are getting to know about the monthly sessions and we regularly have an audience of 50 or more.

“So long as I can continue to play and entertain alongside other great musicians I am happy,” she said.

The Chesterfield Jazz Club meets at Club Chesterfield, Chester Street, on the third Thursday of the month with doors at 8pm and music at 8.30pm. On December 15 you can Swing Into Christmas with Gary Grace. Go to chesterfield jazz.com for more information.

To find out more about Wendy go to http://www.wendykirkland.com.

You can watch her performing here: