DOORSTEP INTERVIEW: Anna Reay | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Welcome to Doorstep Interview, where we find out more about the amazing bands and artists that we have right here in the North East. Whickham-born songstress Anna Reay showcases her stunning voice and superb songwriting with a special romantic candle-lit gig at Sage Gateshead on Valentine’s Day, she tells us more…

Tell us a bit about yourself. Who are you, where are you from?
I’m a Whickham girl through and through and love coming home anytime I can as I go on tour a lot. I have been singing professionally for over 12 years playing all over from international luxury cruise ships to national theatre gigs and a mix of different European venues so I feel very fortunate that something I love to do has enabled me to see a bit of the world too. I have recently finished a tour across Italy which is where the inspiration came for a one-off Valentine’s Day show, ‘One Enchanted Evening’, at Sage Gateshead.

What inspired you to first start making music?
I was very interested in music from an early age and was always singing so when I turned 15, my parents paid for me to have professional singing lessons. I also started playing the piano around the same time. I think naturally you play around with different sounds from music that has influenced you until you find something that sits well and suits you.

Who would you say are your biggest influences?
My favourite instrument is the human voice and what it can do musically. So my biggest influences are people like Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone, Katherine Jenkins – all pretty varied but basically anyone who uses their voice as an instrument is inspirational to me and influences how I use my voice depending on what style of music I am performing.

How would you describe your sound?
It is difficult to describe as we cover so many genres. Collectively, we have worked with the likes of Dionne Warwick, Hugh Masekela and Jonathon Butler, Peat Bog Faeries, Holly Johnson, The Drifters, The Supremes and Matt Monroe so everyone’s influences and styles are thrown in there.

Our music is a mix of laid back live lounge-style with guitar, vocals and lots of interesting harmonies as well as upbeat soulful tracks so it really is difficult to pin point it as one sound.

Where do you see yourselves fitting into the local music scene?
We have been writing our own material for a while and are about to go into the studio to record our first album of original material so it would be great to be able to appeal to the wider local gig-goers too as a band with our own sound rather than just be seen as playing other people’s songs.

We often do local pubs in and around Newcastle as a duo (the guitarist Deon and I) so have enjoyed a welcome reception from many already trialling out some of our new songs.

Tell us a bit about your live performances. What can we expect from a gig by you?
Being a true Geordie lass, I like to have a bit of relaxed friendly banter and engage with the audience which makes them feel included in the night and by doing that, they also make us feel very relaxed. Good music, a wide range of styles to appeal to everyone, and we always ensure people have fun.

Can you tell us what gigs you have planned in the region in the near future?
The big one is the Valentine’s Day gig at Sage Gateshead in February. It was influenced from my recent tour around Italy and the romance and the music of the place.

We have actually organised a bit of a competition with Newcastle Marriott Gosforth Park hotel that if anyone wanted to propose on stage, they could win a night’s stay for two with dinner so I really hope that happens – it is a leap year too so no excuses!

What do you think has been your biggest achievement so far as a band?
It’s hard to pin down one thing but I think just going for big auditions thinking we would never get them, and being booked and whisked off straight away on ships and venues around the world when in your early 20’s was scary. I’m grateful though as it threw me in at the deep end and started my career in music. I think individually the lads in the band touring with some of the greats is a big achievement for them and I feel honoured to be working with them all too.

Have there been any major challenges so far in your musical career?
My biggest challenge personally was overcoming shyness to be more confident on stage. I knew there was an inner diva waiting to pounce – she just needed a bit of encouragement!

What else have you got planned for the future?
With the success of shows such as Great Ladies of Song that we did in 2013 and now One Enchanted Evening, I would love to take them to other theatres in the UK. But first, we will be in the studio recording our ‘originals’ album and then look to showcase this locally and do a bit of a launch, so the future feels very exciting for us.

Anna Reay’s One Enchanted Evening takes place on Sunday 14th February at Sage Gateshead. Click here for tickets

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