The powerhouse vocals of Imelda May will be joining the line-up for the Bristol International Jazz and Blues Festival, closing the Festival on 9th March with her gutsy blues and rock ‘n’ roll.
The instantly recognisable look of May with her single Teddy girl curl, and her rockabilly-meets-blues sound have propelled May onto the stage with international superstars including Bruce Springsteen, Wanda Jackson, Eric Clapton, Chuck Berry and too many more to list. Catching
her as she releases her 4th studio album, Bristol gets to hear the one woman tornado who has swept up some of the world’s best male vocalists in her path.
Imelda began singing in clubs when she was 16 years old, occasionally barred from her own shows at Dublin’s Bruxelles club for being underage. “I was getting tips from the best musicians in Dublin.
One of them said, “Your voice is great, but it needs to roughen.” It was around this time, when driving a tearful Imelda to a gig, that her father asked her “Is your heart broken? Excellent. Now you can sing the blues”.
Remembered by Imelda as a turning point in her life, from then on her voice developed into the sultry, rich and unique tone you hear today.
By 2006 she was itching to go solo, and formed her own band. “We started out a bit jazzier, but it needed balls and roughing up which it got.” Her debut album, “Love Tattoo” was soon released and started to get noticed. Catching the attention of Jools Holland in 2008 she supported him on tour which led to him requesting her to appear on Later. In 2009, Imelda knocked Bruce Springsteen off No. 1 to become the first female Irish artist to top the Irish album charts since Mary Black 20 years ago.
The rest, as they say is history but with the release of her fourth album in spring 2014, May will once again be challenging the pole position and as always, guaranteeing audiences a rockabilly good time. Highlights of the 2014 Festival include world famous funksters Pee Wee Ellis & Fred Wesley Funk All-Stars, godfathers of World Music Osibisa, Joseph “Zigaboo” Modeliste, Bristol’s own jazz superstars Get the Blessing, Andy Sheppard, Iain Ballamy, Alan Barnes & Howard Alden Quintet, New Orleans musicians Lillian Boutté and Django à lá Creole and former Steely Dan guitarist Elliot Randall. All this plus a free foyer programme across the weekend, from lunchtime and into the small hours.
And what better way to bring the second Bristol International Jazz & Blues Festival to a close than local superstars Get the Blessing followed by one of Imelda May’s roof raising sets?