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Singer and songwriter Cherise Adams-Burnett, 24,
is one of the most exciting emerging talents in British
jazz. With performances at the BBC Proms in 2017
and the Kennedy Centre in Washington DC under
her belt, in April she was named Vocalist of the Year
at the Jazz FM Awards. Catch her performing live at
Boisdale of Belgravia from 19-22 August
How would you describe your music?
In the music I write, I’m trying to mesh
traditional jazz with something a bit
new and different. I’d say it’s an
experiment, bringing together all of my
influences, from the classical music
I played growing up to artists including
Laura Mvula and Joni Mitchell, as
well as the classic music-hall jazz of
the 1930s and 1940s, such as Hoagy
Carmichael. But I love singing the
standards too. I find a sense of joy
in all of it.
Cherise Adams-Burnett
has recently recorded
her debut EP
What’s your favourite jazz standard
to sing live?
‘Skylark’, by Hoagy Carmichael. It’s
about a bird that goes in search of love,
and I’ve written a song called ‘Felicity’
that’s a sort-of answer to it, about what
happens when you do find love. I’ve
just recorded it for my new EP, in fact.
What can we expect from a Cherise
Adams-Burnett live show?
Eclecticism and storytelling. At
Boisdale of Mayfair it’s just me and
a pianist – we just sit by the piano and
see where it goes. At Boisdale of
Belgravia it’s with a band and the
pianist Alex Webb, who I’ve known for
several years. We love playing together.
How did you get started in music?
I was 16 when I decided to be a singer,
when I started attending a music
development programme called
Tomorrow’s Warriors, which gives
young aspiring musicians the tools to
become jazz musicians. I grew up
playing classical music – I played the
viola and the flute, and also sang with
gospel choirs.
What did it mean to win Vocalist of the
Year at the Jazz FM Awards?
It’s amazing to get the recognition. But
now I’ve got to build on it – it doesn’t
mean you’re entitled to any success,
really. I’m self-managed – no agent, no
representation. I just work hard at
everything myself.
Which current musician do you most
I’m loving Solange right now. There’s
a lot of conviction and honesty in
her art.
Name three key albums that have
influenced you.
Rapture by Anita Baker, which is a
favourite of my mum’s and we’d listen
to it at home. Songs in the Key of Life
by Stevie Wonder; everything just
clicks into place with Stevie Wonder
– what more do you need to say? And
Ella and Louis by Ella Fitzgerald and
Louis Armstrong. That was the very
first album I was ever told to learn
when I was studying jazz. They’re just
the essence of the jazz voice – they
defined what jazz is.
What talent would you love to have?
To be able to split my voice into two
notes at once!
What’s the ideal drink to enjoy with
a Cherise Adams-Burnett show?
Ooooh, I have no idea! Whatever floats
your boat. Maybe something fruity?
What’s your idea of perfect happiness?
I always say that all you need in life is
good music and good people!

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