Salt and Light #17


I’ll be setting sail to the Isle of Wight for a concert on Saturday 3rd September and performing a solo show with guitar at the beautiful thatched 18th century church, St Agnes in West Wight. The church lies beneath Tennyson Down in the beautiful Freshwater Bay, a mile away from Farringford where Tennyson lived for 40 years and wrote his famous poem ‘Maud.’ Tennyson’s poems have inspired me more than once, with the setting of the ‘Lady of Shalott’ to music, and ‘Crossing the Bar’.

My close friend, poet, and harp therapist Clare Roslington will be opening the evening playing original compositions on harp. Clare recently moved to Freshwater from Malvern, and I’m Godmother to her young twins, Michael and Grace. I’m delighted to be reuniting with her and performing together for the first time! Thanks to Vic King of Vaguely Sunny Agency for organising this concert. Tickets for the concert are £12 each and can be booked in advance with link below or by phoning 01983-730930.


Tickets are selling fast for the opening night of the new music venue in Ludlow, Rascals at the Mascall Centre! We are busy making the stage, and I’m rehearsing a whole new repertoire of songs with the James Hunt Quartet. Linda and Dave Clarke, owners of Greek Taverna, Athena are preparing a menu of the finest canapés, sourced from Athens to serve on arrival with fizz! We hosted a lunch with the BBC at their restaurant Athena. Listen to Kate Justice wax lyrical about the food, and hear interviews live from the music room with Linda, Dave and I. Linda has kindly provided me with a glitzy dress to wear for the evening from her award winning shop Promesse, so please glam up and wear your best dresses and suits! It’s sure to be a night to remember!


Date for the diary! On Friday August 19th we have another show booked at Rascals at the Mascall Centre! Senegalese Kora player will be appearing in Ludlow, with his amazing trio. Kadialy is a musician and singer-songwriter inspired by the West African Griot repertoire. Born into the great line of Kouyate Griot in Southern Senegal, Kadialy’s mesmerising kora playing and singing style has been described by Time Out Magazine as ‘hauntingly beautiful.’ I have performed with Kadialy on several occasions in London and Worcestershire. His music is simply spellbinding. Tickets will soon be on sale! Please email me if you would like to reserve a ticket or call 01584 875023.


It was a stunning evening at Crumplebury, performing in the Grand Hall, overlooking a beautiful wildflower meadow! Alistair McGowan was funnier than ever, with new stand-up material, and well-rehearsed from his UK tour. I enjoyed singing songs with Martin Riley and Ben Walsh, from both albums ‘Song be My Soul’ and ‘Shining Pathway’, including the Judy Collins country hit ‘Someday Soon’ and my latest song ‘Bright Field’ to finish. It was a full room, and everyone was smartly dressed in black tie. Huge thanks to Sound 55, Linda at Promesse for the elegant dress, and Colin Toogood for the photos! Also to the wonderful team at Crumplebury, Chris Griffin and all the friends and family who supported us.

Here’s a review by a member of the audience, Andy Cole:

“What a fabulous place. I haven’t laughed so much in ages. Alistair was hilarious. It really worked to have the piano pieces with the comedy. The backdrop with the perfect English countryside scene through the window, watching the sunset, birds and bats and the hay dancing in the breeze, was a perfect accompaniment to your lovely songs.”

We were overjoyed to be featured in June’s edition of Herefordshire Living in the lead up to the show. Subscribe and read the full article here.

June Jubilee and other shows!

It was lovely to meet so many people over the jubilee weekend with 3 gigs in 4 days – at SENSE in Tenbury, The Angel Wine Bar in Ludlow and a garden party at the house of Providence! I also enjoyed singing for LOVE Music, an arts based community project for those suffering with Alzhiemers in Bromsgrove Methodist Church. Last weekend I sang at the Lion Ballroom in Leominster for their pop up restaurant, and Mike Longmore’s stage for Ludlow Fringe. I had many new sign ups to this newsletter, so to those who have just joined the mailing list … welcome! Thanks for keeping in touch, and do let me know if you have any questions, thoughts, inspiration or feedback! I’d love to hear from you.


I’m thrilled to be hosting my first songwriting retreat of the year this August (August 3rd, 4th, and 5th) in conjunction with Birmingham University! In partnership with Emily Wingfield, senior lecturer in English Literature and expert on Mary Queen of Scots, we will be offering 8 participants a three day songwriting retreat at the Mascall Centre, in Ludlow. It is a pilot study that we intend to take into women’s prisons, comparing the experiences of modern day women and royal women who were imprisoned throughout history, and the creative pursuits that were undertaken to find freedom and pass the time. If you are interested in taking part, please email me. The course is free of charge, for women only, and all levels of experience are welcome. It is a workshop that explores the art and craft of songwriting, and facilitates a safe, supportive space for creativity where people can share ideas. There will be an opportunity to perform songs and poems written during the workshop on the last evening, and enjoy an authentic Greek buffet at Athena Taverna. The course will also include a visit to Ludlow Castle.

Emily explains the wider objective of this project:

“This project seeks to explore and make public the work that Mary Queen of Scots did under house arrest and further encourage and evaluate the use of art and heritage in women’s prisons as a therapeutic model of justice intervention.

Mary wrote a significant body of artful and lyric poetry and embroidered multiple pieces of textile art. Much of this creative work was completed while she was imprisoned in England, and through all of it Mary reflected on her shifting fortunes and changing identities.

Working alongside prison practitioner and renowned singer-songwriter, Deborah Rose, we will explore with women currently in the criminal justice system a selection of Mary’s poetry and textiles and also a series of songs (from a variety of musical genres) inspired by her life and work. The women with whom we work with will be invited to respond to Mary and her art with their own creative ideas.”

This is a moving song called ‘Fotheringay‘ written by Sandy Denny – a tribute to Mary Queen of Scots who was executed for treason at Fotheringay Castle in 1587.

REFLECTIONS: The Flaneur and the Flaneuse

I have recently been introduced to the phrase ‘flaneur’ by my neighbour. I’ve often been questioned when drinking coffee alone or walking by myself in the town or by the river in the evenings as to why I’m not accompanied. I’ve always enjoyed my own company, and I find walking alone is often a good time to pray, or notice how nature looks differently at night. I recently saw a heron by the river in the dark, and it looked even more majestic and ghost like in the half light. It’s always a joy to see a hedgehog appear, or a murder of crows, or a starling murmuration when no one else is around. I was delighted during the local Ludlow Fringe Festival to see a few young woman new to the town occupying the coffee houses, reading books, and writing journals. Aha I thought, a fellow flaneuse! This article is so interesting. I’ve often toured abroad with just my guitar, enjoying the freedom and independence of solitary travel. It restores my spirit and fuels my creativity. When I pass my local Indian restaurant, they often ask me why I’m walking alone – or in fact eating alone if I occasionally book a table for one. Next time I’ll tell them…I’m a flaneuse!

Read this fascinating article here about the Flaneur and the Flaneuse; the culture of women who wander cities alone. It explores “the freedom for a woman to choose who she wants to be when she steps out of her front door.” It says, “Flaneuse are due credit, historically and presently as an independent and inspirational force in their own right.”


I was beyond shocked to learn the news that my dear friend Pat West passed away a few weeks ago, very suddenly. I was privileged to play with Pat on a number of occasions. His musicianship was astounding, with an ability to play any stringed instrument, in any genre. We opened for Swedish opera singer, Peter Joback at St James Theatre in London, and did a 10-date tour with American songwriter Jimmy Webb. He was one of the kindest, most sensitive musicians I’d played with. I was reunited with my second cousin who lives in Richmond, London because of Pat. He took a yoga lesson with her by chance and it came to light that he was performing with me on a tour that same week – so she came to Cadogan Hall, in Chelsea and watched us play. He was due to play in London with me in January, but he was away with his wife and two children on holidays. He kindly gave me other guitarists’ numbers to help me find an accompanist. My heart is heavy writing this. Pat appeared at times too sensitive for this world. I often saw that look in his eye. My thoughts and prayers go out to all his family. Here is the fundraising link for Pat’s memorial service and celebration and to help his children into the future.

Left to right: BJ Cole, Deborah Rose, Mari Randle and Pat West at Cadogan Hall, London.


THE AUTHORITY GAP by Mary Ann Sieghart

I went to Hay Festival, in Hay-on-Wye twice this year, and the second time I was handed a free ticket to see Mary Ann Seighart, former columnist of The Times talk about her new controversial book ‘The Authority Gap: Why women are still taken less seriously than men, and what we can do about it.’ It combines an absorbing review of the contemporary evidence on the systematic undervaluing of women that still exists in 21st century society. It’s a brilliant manifesto explaining why women are still often underestimated, patronised or dismissed in the workplace and in family life. As Bernadine Evaristo, said: “Just in case anyone still thinks the patriarchy is a figment of feminist imagination, this book will prove otherwise.” There is much to be learned from this book, for men and women, including some very practical and hopeful tips on creating a more equal world. This is a fantastic summary of the talk.

It was very timely this week that a gentleman stopped me in the street to apologise for not supporting me in a conversation at a recent dinner party about systemic sexism being a collective phenomena. He said he held the same views as me, but kept quiet. He regretted not speaking up and showing alliance, and I felt touched that he took the time and was humble enough to say so. It made me feel very positive about speaking out on the things that I feel deeply about.

This was a wonderful concert at Brimingham Symphony Hall. Lea Salonga was my childhood inspiration, and it wasn’t until a few years ago that I knew her name – I only knew her as “The Voice of Miss Saigon.” Amazingly, when I saw her sing three years ago on my birthday, my friend and pianist Martin Riley was accompanying her. Martin was asked personally to do the tour again by Lea. What a tribute to Martin’s playing. This show was a lot more dazzling, with stage lights and costume changes, Disney, and show songs. The Dream Again Tour! It’s definitely a time to Dream Again!

Wishing you a beautiful July as Joni Mitchell said “with the new moon in Cancer.”

With love,