FFO: Jenni Winter | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Following a hugely successful tour of Mother’s Ruin, a cabaret about motherhood and gin, Jenni Winter will be dazzling audiences with her latest show, La Mère, at The Old Coal Yard (as part of Newcastle Fringe Festival) on Thursday 27th and Friday 28th July. In this musical cabaret about motherhood and wild swimming, you can expect original songs, sharp wit, and fancy fingerwork on the piano.

Here, Jenni tells us what inspired her music…

My influences come from a range of musical styles and composers. 

Kander and Ebb
I’m heavily influenced by composers Kander and Ebb, who wrote musicals including Cabaret, Kiss of the Spider Woman, and Chicago.  I love their jazzy, dark yet theatrical style and I think their songs are quite sexy! When I wrote the opening number to La Mère I wanted it to be less of a big show-stopping number, and more like Wilkommen from Cabaret. I’m very inspired by the pared-back sound of the band in the Kit Kat Club in the show Cabaret, (in contrast to the big orchestrations of the songs that don’t come live from the Kit Kat club- the non-diegetic songs that are part of the overall soundtrack) and really love how heavily the piano is featured. In my previous writing, for Mother’s Ruin and Your Voice: Your Future: North East at Live Theatre,  I used lots of piano, augmented chords, and singing in my own accent, to try and create a Kander and Ebb feel.

Irving Berlin
I grew up watching old Hollywood musicals, and I fell in love with the movies of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. I loved everything about them- the dancing, the glamour, the plot lines, the comedy- but mostly of course, the music. One composer who wrote for Astaire and Rogers, and who is a big influence of mine, is Irving Berlin, who wrote the music for my favourite film, Top Hat. I love the tempos of his ragtime style songs, such as Puttin On The Ritz,  Blue Skies and the Top Hat song No Strings, which just make you want to get up and dance, as well as his love songs from Top Hat, Cheek to Cheek and Let’s Face the Music and Dance, which have beautiful, sweeping melodies, and are real classics, having been written in 1935 yet is still covered and performed today. I love the way the songs don’t always follow a classic structure yet the dance numbers have toe-tapping, unforgettable melodies, and the love songs have heartbreaking lyrics and romantic orchestrations.  Many Irving Berlin songs have become part of the Classic American Song Book as they are so timeless. The song, Let Yourself Go in La Mère, is heavily influenced by the late, great Berlin.

Billy Preston
I absolutely love piano-heavy pop and rock and roll songs, especially with a honky tonk feel, such as songs by Ray Charles, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. The songs Katie From Number 80 from Mother’s Ruin, and Helène from La Mère are heavily influenced by the style of Billy Preston, who played the piano for the Beatles, and in particular, his playing on the album Let It Be. I love the way his piano adds so much depth and weight to the ballads on this album, and how his playing is just so insightful, taking a song from being a pretty brilliant pop song in the first place, to something that just soars above anything you’ve ever heard! His playing manages to be uplifting, moving and heartbreaking all at once, making you want to sing along at top volume one minute, and cry your eyes out the next.


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