GETTING TO KNOW YOU: HELENA PAUL
Sunday March 3 | 8:30pm | £10
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An old friend and supporter, singer Helena Paul is making a welcome return to the Club after some years based in mainland Europe. She is a charismatic vocalist with a lovely warm vocal tone and impressive technique whose career has spanned dance, soul, pop and more recently jazz and blues. Working regularly in Spain and Germany as well as London Helena’s powerful voice has been a feature of numerous high profile bands, both in the UK and on the Continent including the likes of Wet Wet Wet and Captain Hollywood. Established as both songwriter and performer Helena describes herself as “a specialist in Jazz, Soul and Blues.” Highly experienced Helena’s sparkling, high energy, singing has been heard across Europe from duos to major Big Bands. Helena will be celebrating her birthday tonight so expect plenty of lively music, surprise guests and much fun. Also featured on the gig tonight will be one of the UK’s iconic jazz musicians, guitarist Jim Mullen, with a rhythm section of Jason Wright-piano, Francis Hylton-bass and Frank Tontoh-drums. A rare visit to the Club from Helena and well worth catching.
When was your last gig at the 606, and can you fill us in on your history with the venue?
I was last at the Six in Sept 2007, but I have been gigging there since the early 90s. I also did my farewell gig at the 6 as I was leaving for Germany in 1995 and have always tried to get everyone together intermittently whenever I travel back to the UK for work.
We hear you've been living in Spain. Tell us about what you've been up to musically since you've been away and what your life is like there. How does the Spanish music scene compare with that of the UK?
I have been away from London for 18 years. I lived first for 8 years in Germany where I had a hugely successful music career. I became a published songwriter for Warner Chappell in Hamburg as well as building a huge name for myself on the jazz scene there. I ran several of my own bands concurrently covering different genres of music ranging from jazz to soul and even house / dance floor music. I also toured with many famous acts in Germany (Xavier Naidoo, Sascha, Laith Al Dene, Edo Zanki... names that no-one in London is really aware of, but majorly popular in Germany) as well as recorded with many of the top dance floor labels including producers from The Back Street Boys, Milli Vanilli, Sweet Box etc etc.... During this time I began vocal coaching too and this has also increased my popularity, having students in Germany still, in Spain and in the UK, travelling doing workshops etc.
I decided that I wanted to move on as I had friends in Southern Spain but this has never stopped my returning to Germany to tour which I do at least once a year. So I relocated to the Malaga area and began again effectively from the bottom to promote myself and reach out to the music scene there. After one year of being there I did a huge tour of Granada with some of the top jazz musicians ... Julio Perez on drums, Vince Benedetti on piano (wrote for Dianna Krall) Kiku Aguado, guitarist and one of the founders of the big band in Granada... Many other prominent players from the Andalucia area, too many to name drop right here :-) I now occasionally tour with these guys and also with more covering festivals in the Malaga area as well as making special appearances at prestigious hotels (there are not so many venues in the area where I live) Marbella Club Hotel and the Puente Romano give me a regular spot with my jazz trio when Im resident there for the season. etc etc.
I also record a lot doing sessions as well as still writing with several independents in Germany and also in Spain. I recently recorded a prominent Italian client's collection of songs that he had penned over his life time (hes now in his 70s) and that was a challenge, all in Italian! I then flew to Milan for the release of the CD. Two years ago I toured Sweden with a band from Germany whom I work with.
Regarding the comparison to the UK, I can quite honestly say that it is difficult to do so. I toured in Mallorca last June with my German trio and there was a healthy feel for jazz and live music. I must admit Marbella isnt the most cultural of scenes when you are looking for culture outside of sun & sea.... but Im lucky that I can travel and still am invited in to some great scenes around Europe. Germany is great too, they love live music and support it greatly but everywhere in Europe is hit by recession so we all struggle on for our art.
You've had success with pop and dance music working with Wet, Wet, Wet, Phil Collins and Captain Hollywood. More recently however, your focus has been on jazz, blues and soul. As a singer, I would imagine that each genre has its own requirements and challenges. What are the differences in your approach to these various types of music?
I have always sung jazz - sadly it is just that no-one knew me for this really as I was not given a huge platform in the early 90s in London, having had success in other genres. I love melody, harmony and also rhythm.... I love the excitement of live performance but also the perfection of the recording. I understand the need for commercialism in our industry (as we all have to earn money) but at the end of the day, to be totally self indulgent and to extend a vibe or a feeling outwards in front of a willing and encouraging listening audience is probably the best it will ever get for any musician, regardless of style. Even if you only have one face turned towards you showing appreciation of what you are performing, be it with a smile or a tear, you have evoked a reaction from your song. It is enough to know are reaching out and communicating with the international language that everyone can understand, music.
Complete this thought: “I can’t live without…”
my dog Bobby McFerrin and my cats, BB King and Max and of course, music ;-)
...and: “I’d really love to meet…”
should that be the man of my dreams or someone famous who can influence and finance my career? Hmmmm.... Everyone you meet in life creates the path that I call destiny. I just want to keep living my life and following my path. It will always include music which is the cheapest therapist Ive ever met!
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