Episode 28 – My interview with Carol Grimes
Last November I had the absolute pleasure and privilege to interview my dear friend and vocal powerhouse, Carol Grimes.
In this interview we explore her decades spanning career paying particular attention to her broad range of singing styles and genres. The following which I took from the Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club website in London, gives you a bit more of an inkling of her stature as a singer and the deep respect she commands as a vocalist, especially in the UK music scene.
Carol Grimes is one of the finest singers in British music. Her deeply personal project, ‘The Singer’s Tale’, is an autobiographical show combining theatre, music and a grooving band! The show weaves its stories, sometimes shady, mad and bad, but with music and song at their heart. Street Busker to Ronnie Scotts, from Notting Hill to Nashville and Memphis to San Francisco from Hackney to Texas and Eastern Europe but always returning to London. This raw, in your face, sublime performer takes you with her on a musical journey through her extraordinary life.
CAROL GRIMES A much-loved performer infusing folk, blues and jazz, came to the notice of the public when she joined the band Delivery in 1969 and recorded one album before departing for a solo career. Her debut solo album, Warm Blood (1974), was recorded with members of Area Code 615 and the Average White Band. She recorded her second album in Memphis, Tennessee, with the Brecker Brothers, Donald “Duck” Dunn, and The Memphis Horns. She founded the band Eyes Wide Open in 1984. Her career expanded into teaching and working in musical theatre. In the 1990s, she worked with the choir The Shout. As you can see below, in Carol’s own words, she has been, and continues to be so much more:
“My name is Carol Grimes. I have been singing for my supper since the late 1960s. I began as a young, nervous Busker and fell in love with singing. Over time I became a Singer-Songwriter, Performance Poet, Voice Movement Therapist and Musical Director, founding the Sing for Joy Choirs in London, for people with neurological and other conditions and directed them for many years. I have recorded in the UK, USA, Sweden, The Isle of Jura and Poland. I became angry, seeing injustice, poverty and cruelty all around me and became an activist. The first Musician to step up for Rock against Racism, Sexism, Reclaim the night, singing for the striking Miners, the fire service, the Brunswick Women and refugee centres. In my life, I performed both in the UK and Internationally with my own Music with wonderful musicians and for Contemporary composers such as Orlando Gough, who directed The Shout, a contemporary opera, theatre company touring internationally with them for 12 years. From Japan to South Africa Canada and the USA and beyond, including performing at the Albert Hall in the Proms as a soloist – Blimey! I had my first book ‘The Singers Tale,’ published in 2018 and many songs and poems published, recorded and performed over the years. I love writing as much as I love music. For more information, click on my Blog. The Singers Tale https://wordpress.com/posts/carolgrimes.com also on Amazon Carol Grimes The Singers Tale, where there are some lovely reviews. Thank you.”
‘Your Blues’ From the Album Eyes Wide Open by Carol Grimes 1986
Listen/buy it here:
- Alto Saxophone, Baritone Saxophone, Piccolo Flute – Simon Clark*
- Backing Vocals – Didi Hopkins, Dyan Birch, Hanna Wilson, Johnny Meringues, Josefina Cupido
- Congas, Percussion – Neville Murray
- Double Bass – Mario Castronari
- Drums, Percussion – Mike Bradley (2)
- Electric Bass – Andy Herbert
- Flute – Angele Veltmeyer*
- Guitar, Backing Vocals – Maciek Hrybowicz*
- Horns – The Kick Horns
- Keyboards, Backing Vocals – Steve Lodder
- Producer – Alastair Gavin (tracks: 2 to 11), Maciek Hrybowicz* (tracks: 1)
- Soprano Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone – Tim Sanders
- Trombone – Paul Nieman
- Trumpet, Flugelhorn – Roddy Lorimer
- Vocals, Percussion – Carol Grimes
‘Home Made Ruin’ Album Fools Meeting by Delivery lyrics by Carol Grimes London 1970
- Bass – Richard Sinclair (tracks: 13)
- Bass, Double Bass [String Bass] – Roy Babbington (tracks: 1 to 12)
- Coordinator [Release Co-ordination] – Steven Feigenbaum
- Design [Cd Package & Design] – Bill Ellsworth
- Drums – Pip Pyle
- Engineer – Roger Quested (tracks: 1 to 10), Vic Keary (tracks: 13)
- Guitar – Phil Miller
- Liner Notes – Michael King (9)
- Painting [Paintings] – Larry Smart
- Photography By – Ged Grimmel
- Piano – Steve Miller (3)
- Reissue Producer, Research – Mike King*
- Remastered By – Mike King*, Roland Rainer
- Soprano Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone – Lol Coxhill (tracks: 1 to 8, 10)
- Violin – Roddy Skeaping* (tracks: 2)
- Vocals, Percussion – Carol Grimes (tracks: 1 to 3, 5 to 10, 12)
‘High Hill Country Rain’ Album Warm Blood – Carol Grimes Nashville 1974
- Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar – Ron Cornelius
- Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Banjo – Mack Gayden*
- Alto Saxophone, Baritone Saxophone – Roger Ball
- Arranged By – Bob Wilson
- Arranged By [Brass] – Roger Ball
- Bass – Tommy Codbill*
- Drums – Kenny Buttrey
- Piano, Organ, Vibraphone – Bob Wilson
- Tenor Saxophone – Malcome Duncan*
- Trumpet – Henry Lowther
- Vocals – Carol Grimes
‘Uphill Peace Of Mind’ Album Carol Grimes Memphis 1976
extra love to Frederick Knight <3 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frederick_Knight_(singer)
‘Alexandria Dance’ Album Eyes Wide Open (see credits above) by Carol Grimes London 1986
https://open.spotify.com/album/5PhHvtOFzWPXtdA67Spyzo inspiration from a dream and Umm Kulthum <3 https://open.spotify.com/album/4fr12i7Bw7CC6fvGA6bnkn?si=hMYuVuvMQ7qKQhJymI2cRA
‘Lush Life’ by Billy Strayhorn from Album Alive At Ronnie Scotts Carol Grimes and Janette Mason London 1994
Wandering saxophone player Alan Barnes
‘Blues For Louis’ from the album Mother by Carol Grimes London 2003
- Cello – Stan Adler (2)
- Design, Photography By – Karen Douglas (2)
- Double Bass – Steve Watts (2)
- Drums, Percussion – Mark Fletcher (4)
- Engineer, Photography By – Joe Leach
- Guitar, Vocals, Photography By – Greg Wain
- Management – Graham Hillman
- Mastered By – Bernie Wright (2)
- Organ, Electric Piano, Vocals, Arranged By, Producer – Ian Shaw (2)
- Percussion, Vocals – Josefina Cupido
- Saxophone – Elton Dean
- Trombone – Annie Whitehead
- Trumpet – Harry Beckett
- Vocals, Photography By – Carol Grimes
‘Why Do You Sing?’ from the CD Tall Stories by The Shout composed by Orlando GOUGH / Richard CHEW. London 2019
the gospel singer she’s improvising with is Wayne Ellington http://wayneellington.co.uk/#:~:text=Wayne%20is%20the%20founder%20of,Gospel%20Choir%20of%20the%20Year.
Taken from Orlando Gough’s website
The Shout was (very often) Kayte Harding, Adey Grummet, Angela Elliot, Louise Sofield, Rebecca Askew, Hazel Holder, Melanie Pappenheim, Carol Grimes, Louise Schumacher, Jeremy Avis, Martin George, Manickam Yogeswaran, Matt Coombes, Greg Wain, Mike Henry, Jonathan Williams and Jeremy Birchall; and sometimes in its life included Richard Chew, Andrew Burden, Michael Dore, Jonathan Glew, Jonathan Burden, Wills Morgan, Daniela Clynes, Wayne Ellington, Adrian Hutton, Nanna Brincker, Cheryl Pickering, Ian Shaw, and (surprisingly) the percussionist Giles Perring.
The Vortex Foundation Big Band
David Mossman The Vortex
As part of the London Jazz Festival in 2002, the Vortex Foundation Big Band’s first gig at the Vortex Jazz Club in London’s Stoke Newington was a sell out. The inspiration for this all-female big band (featuring Annie Whitehead, Carol Grimes and Deirdre Cartwright amongst others) came from the Vortex’s driving force of over 20 years, David Mossman, whose enthusiasm had overcome all obstacles to make The Vortex a successful and integral part of London’s music scene. This album was recorded live at the band’s first gig, when nobody was sure of the club’s future. It has fortunately now found new premises in Dalston but still needs to raise funds to aid its transfer. This CD is intended as both a fundraising project for this worthy cause but also as a tribute to the unforgettable atmosphere of the Vortex in its original home, which provided nearly 3 generations of jazz musicians a platform to publicly develop their art.
released June 21, 2004
Annie Whitehead: trombone and MD
Gail Brand: trombone
Issie Barratt: baritone sax
Diane McLoughlin: alto & soprano saxes
Barbara Snow: trumpet and flugelhorn
Deirdre Cartwright: electric guitar
Andrea Vicari: piano and keyboards
Alison Rayner: double bass and electric guitar
Josephina Cupido: drums and percussion
Carol Grimes: vocals
Some resources for ‘All Women’ Big Bands
‘I Was Cool’ written by Oscar Brown Jr. Performed live by Carol Grimes
Recorded Live at Lauderdale House Highgate London with London Jazz Festival Carol Grimes Singing the blues to celebrate Oscar. 26 November 2009 at Lauderdale House.
With Jennifer Maidman
(Bass, & guitars ),
Dorian Ford (piano)
& Phil Harper (percussion)
Celebrating the Life of Oscar Brown Jnr 1926-2005 – singer/ songwriter/ poet/ lyricist/ activist. ’Sublime words, expressive voice, big heart and an immense mind…what a guy. This is an evening dedicated to the memory of a man who has inspired me for more years than I can remember’ Carol Grimes, a truly unique artist, sets the scene. Oscar Brown Jnr wrote the lyrics for Miles Davis’ All Blues; Nat Adderley’s Work Song and collaborated with Max Roach on his We Insist! Freedom Now suite. ’Colour, a colour…the blues is more than a colour….’Camden New Journal
Music celebrating the Black freedom movement in the US featured strongly in a tribute paid by jazz singer Carol Grimes to Oscar Brown Jr at Lauderdale House, Highgate, on Thursday. Notable among her strong backing group was Tufnell Park pianist Dorian Ford.
“He was a black activist communist and he wrote so many of the song lyrics we now take for granted,” she said opening her set.
“He’s one of the few men I fell in love with that I never met. Now, of course, it’s quite trendy to believe in some of things he did.
But, back in the 1960s and 1970s when American society was segregated, it took bravery to be a black political activist.” Oscar Brown’s career in music began after Mahalia Jackson recorded one of his songs in the late 1950s.
His first major endeavour was the “We Insist – Freedom Now” collaboration with drummer Max Roach. Shortly afterwards, his first solo album, Sin and Soul, sought to tackle the experiences of African-Americans.
He gained immediate fame as an innovative songwriter by penning lyrics to existing jazz numbers, setting words to Nat Adderley’s Work Song and to the Miles Davis composition All Blues, both given powerful renderings by Carol Grimes.
Other numbers to receive her rocking treatment included Humdrum Blues, Excuse Me for Living, Somebody Buy Me a Drink and Brother Where Are You?
Carol Grimes has been singing for more than 40 years. Despite her hectic schedule, she still finds time to lead a weekly Kentish Town community choir for people with Parkinson’s disease and similar conditions, their friends and carers.
“An evening singing with Carol is more therapeutic than all the anti-depressant pills put together,” said Nina Temple who instigated the choir after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s at the young age of 44.
Although the choir doesn’t have any vacancies at present, Carol Grimes is helping to set up a second Sing for Joy choir at the National Neurological Hospital, Queen’s Square, and Bloomsbury.
‘Mad Old Bat’
Michael Kemp played with the page in my book describing the scene on Deptford High Street .. edited it into a short monologue and thus came Mad old Bat…..
‘Scars’ written by Fran Landesman from the Album Mother performed by Carol Grimes London 2003
More words about Mother, one of my favorite albums of Carol’s.
“Carol Grimes, very much the vocalist’s vocalist, has recorded an album that features an impressive list of works by songwriters past and present Tom Waits, Nick Cave, Sandy Denny, John Lennon, Randy Newman, Fran Landesman, Shane McGowan, Ron Sexsmith, Joni Mitchell and two songs jointly written by Carol and Ian Shaw. This is an extraordinary album, beautifully arranged and performed, that defies genres and categories, effortlessly employing a diversity of musical elements – jazz, folk-blues, English chanson – to accompany Carol’s perfect interpretations of these songs.”