Kathleen Willison

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Biography of Kathleen Willison

Kathleen Willison is one of a new generation of exciting young singers. From a musical family, she started playing the violin at the age of 4. It soon became apparent that she was a natural at both the violin and singing and pursued both instruments along with the piano until the end of her schooling, although she never took singing lessons. Instead at 13, she joined the ranks of the National Youth Jazz Orchestra and sang with both their first and second bands for 7 years. At the age of 18 she applied to the Royal Academy of Music and was accepted as one of only two vocalists on the jazz course, run by Graham Collier. 1999 saw Kathleen selected by the RAM to go to Santiago, Spain for the annual IASJ conference.

In 2000, she graduated with a Bmus in jazz vocal performance and is now pursuing a varied career. Kathleen has performed with Tim Whitehead at the Teignmouth Jazz Festival (2002), the London Jazz Festival (2003), the Purcell Room, the Music and the Mind Festival (2003), the CBSO Centre, the Royal Northern College of Music, the York Late Music Festival (2004), Swanage Jazz Festival (2005), Bury St. Edmund's Music Festival (2005) and regularly at the 606 Jazz Club and at various jazz clubs across the UK. She toured the length and breadth of the country with Tim Whitehead and Colin Riley's Homemade Orchestra on a major 22-date Arts Council of England supported tour (Spring 2004). She has also performed at the prestigious Pizza Express Jazz Club with the Homemade Orchestra, PIzza on the Park with esteemed pianist Geoff Eales, Ronnie Scott's Club with her own band KO and a number of times at the Jazz Café ˇs both a lead and backing vocalist.

Most recently Kathleen performed with Tim and Gwilym at the Potsdam Festival, Germany and Pizza on the Park.

Kathleen is featured on Latin/ jazz group AZUL's debut album Beautiful People and on Colin Riley and Tim Whitehead's album Inside Covers (Homemade Label). She has recorded commercially for Blazin' Squad (Eastwest Records), various jingles for Candle Music, and for the feature films THE MUMMY RETURNS and LARA CROFT TOMBRAIDER: THE CRADLE OF LIFE (Sinfonia of London Professional Chorus).

Kathleen is the jazz singing tutor at the Royal Academy of Music and has run jazz masterclasses for classical singers at RAM alongside jazz singer/ pianist Dominic Alldis, featuring guest tutors Ian Shaw and Anita Wardell.

It is rare to come across a singer whose musicianship matches her singing qualities. It was my birthday gig at the 606 Club and I invited Kathleen to jam with the band. She sang the standard repertoire with an assuredness and poise that belied the fact that she'd just graduated from the Royal Academy of Music. Since then we've worked together on the "Let Her Rave" commission for the Teignmouth Jazz Festival and she has become a key member of both my sextet and quintet. She's as happy being another horn weaving her way through challenging arrangements as she is breathing a reflective stillness into "You Go To My Head", my favourite track on this album (CLOSE TO YOU).

In 2003 she joined composer Colin Riley and myself in the Homemade Orchestra and amazed us all with her ability to successfully interpret a diffuse array of contemporary classical and jazz song arrangements for the recent Inside Covers album. She devoured the challenges of moving from Fraser Trainer's reappraisal of Human League's Love Action through Lennon/McCartney's Paperback Writer to breakneck unison horn lines in Just In Time (as on this recording) with her customary deadly accuracy and commitment.

It's all in evidence on this trio recording with the young and extraordinarily gifted Gwilym Simcock on piano .Who could ask for anything more?? Tim Whitehead

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