Yorkshire Coast Gigs - A Community Interest Company

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Edwina Hayes

Edwina Hayes moved to the Yorkshire Coast as a teenager and is a still a regular & favourite on the Festival scene.  Dividing her time between the UK and USA, she counts Nashville as her 'second home'.  She has released three albums to date and has had songs featured on Hollywood film soundtracks and has supported a number of major artists on tour.  Here she talks to Samuel Barrington for Yorkshire Coast Gigs.

You have always performed on the Yorkshire Coast, as well as lots of festivals and gigs around the country and abroad. Where has been your favourite place that you have performed at so far in your career?

Gosh, it's hard to select just one place that is a favourite, I really do enjoy playing at so many places. Big or small, every venue has its own charm; but off the top of my head Bury Met is a lovely gig to play, and also I very much enjoy playing at the Old Courthouse in Thirsk. It was very lovely to play at the Royal Albert Hall also, that one stands out as a highlight being such a wonderful venue, but if pushed, I would have to say I don't have a preference, I love all the places I play.

Do you prefer small intimate gigs, wedding performances, or the bigger festival type gigs? 

I very much enjoy doing concert style gigs, where I play my own songs and the audience sit and listen. As a performer it doesn't get much better than that to me. It doesn't matter if it's a small folk club or a large concert hall, it is wonderful to play and sing and chat for an evening to an attentive audience. I am asked to play weddings quite a lot also, and they are lovely as well. There's no greater honour than being invited to sing at someone's special day and it's really lovely to do that.

Your cover of 'Feels Like Home' featured in Hollywood film 'My Sister's Keeper' starring Cameron Diaz. That is a huge achievement. Tell us the story about how it all came about.

I'm still not entirely sure to be honest. I had made my second album. 'Pour Me A Drink', and had made it all myself, with no promotion or anything, so to get an email from Warner Brothers asking if they could use the Randy Newman cover that I'd included on the CD was a great honour, yes.  Not so much an honour as a songwriter as it was one of the three covers I put on the album, but a real honour all the same!  I found out later that the director, Nick Cassavettes, had himself requested the song be in the film after hearing it somewhere, but to this day I don't know where he heard it!

You spend time in Nashville I hear, and that you are much loved over there too. Do tell us what you get up to over there, It all sounds very exciting, especially as for most of us it is a place we only hear about in films/TV.

I do spend time in Nashville, I lived there for a year or two so it feels very much like a second home.  I have been going to Nashville now for 13 years and have some wonderful friends there.  I go most years for a month or so, to spend time with my friends there, have a bit of a holiday, and I also do some road-tripping too, up to New York or over to Texas.  I love it over there, it's a very friendly and musical city with a small-town feel, so being a Northerner I feel at home there, as the warmth of the people and the atmosphere are very much like the warmth you find in Yorkshire and Lancashire.

Tell us about your biggest influences?  I often hear your references to Bob Dylan but I am sure there are many more.

Oooh, yes, I love Bob Dylan! My biggest influences are my friends and peers, I would say.  Most of the music I listen to is by friends of mine and musicians that I know.  I love David Ward Maclean, Paul Liddell, Spekki Chris, Carissa Broadwater, Ali O'Keeffe, to name but a few.  As far as well known artists go, I like Van the Man, Carole King and Kate Rusby very much.

You are an accomplished songwriter and performer whose songs have appeared on hugely successful releases.  What advice would you give to other songwriters and performers who are trying to make a career out of their music? Have you got some Edwina Hayes 'Top Tips' for them?

My top tip for any aspiring singer/songwriters would be play, play and play some more!  Open mic nights and folk club singers' nights are where I started off and they are invaluable in helping an artist work up new songs and develop as a performer, and also you meet such lovely and inspiring fellow performers.  Everything I do now all came from playing a song or two once a week at a local open mic night. I can't recommend them highly enough!

Is it true that Michael Parkinson lists you as one of his favourite artists.  How did you hear about this and how did it make you feel? 

Michael Parkinson had a radio show on a Sunday afternoon on BBC Radio Two a few years ago, and he played my songs quite a lot!  It was a real surprise and a great honour, especially as he is more of a jazz fan than a folk fan on the whole.  I have been twice to perform at a pub he co-owns with his son in Maidenhead, and both gigs were very lovely indeed. Being a Yorkshireman, he chatted to my Mum quite a bit at the first gig I did there, about Bridlington and fish and chips.  He used to go to Brid as a boy, he told her, and loves it!

You released your third album 'Good Things Happen Over Coffee' in 2011.  Which has been your personal favourite album that you have made and why? Can we expect a fourth album at any time? 

I don't have a personal favourite album really, I am very proud of 'Pour Me A Drink' and 'Good Things Happen Over Coffee,' as I produced them myself, and had some of my favourite artist friends contribute musically on some of the songs.  The first album I made, 'Out On My Own', which is now out of print, was pretty much all made by the record company and producers.  I didn't get any say in it at all and subsequently, while it's a pleasant enough album, it has none of my personality in it at all.  I didn't even get to play guitar on it!  Madness when I think back!  I was too shy to speak up, and ended up with a CD that wasn't me at all!  To me 'Pour Me A Drink' is my first album, as it reflects what I do and have always done, which is play and sing guitar.

I'm well on the way with my next album too!  It will hopefully be ready before the end of the year.  I'm having to find time to make it in between all the gigs I'm doing, which is a nice problem to have really!  I'm not sure what it will be called yet, so far it has a working title of 'I love Bob Dylan and I'd Like To Be Thinner'!

Find Edwina on Facebook and at www.edwinahayes.com