The Notes Between with Lara Eidi and Sarah Gillespie

21st December 2023

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Welcome to the next episode of our podcast series’ The Notes Between’ with Lara Eidi. Conversations exploring everything behind and about the world of songwriting! Our theme music ‘Tide is from Lara Eidi herself available here

In this episode, Lara talks to songwriter Sarah Gillespie Available on Spotify Apple and Anchor

Sarah Gillespie is a British American singer songwriter and writer based in London. She has four albums, known for combining poetic lyrics with folk, blues and elements of jazz. Her debut collection of poetry, Queen Ithaca Blues, was published by Albion Beatnik Press. Gillespie's fourth album, Wishbones, was arranged and co-produced by Mercury nominated pianist and composer Kit Downes. Her band features Kit Downes - organ and piano, James Maddren - drums, Ruth Goller - bass, Chris Montague - guitar and special guest Laura Jurd - trumpet. Wishbones was launched at the Southbank Centre's Purcell Room on October 29, 2018. During the lockdown of 2020, Gillespie launched her Create Now Academy delivering mentoring programs and workshops for women songwriters.

Sarah Gillespie was born in London to an American mother and British father. She grew up in Norfolk, interspersed with numerous trips to Minnesota where she listened to Bessie Smith, Bob Dylan, Cole Porter and early blues and jazz. From the age of four, Gillespie composed songs on piano, and then at 13 began playing guitar. At 18, she moved to the US, busking in the streets and playing gigs. On returning to London, she gained a first class degree in Film and Literature and an MA in Politics and Philosophy from Goldsmiths, University of London.

Gillespie composes her material on the guitar. She cites her main influences as Tom Waits,Cole Porter, Bob Dylan early blues and jazz, poets T. S. Eliot and James Tate and the 1950s Beat Poetry movement. Her style has been described as 'mixing folk, jazz and blues' with an emphasis on the lyrical content and delivery. The Guardian's jazz critic John Fordham writes  "Gillespie, who joins Bob Dylan's lyrical bite and languid delivery to the forthrightness of Joni Mitchell, with a little rap-like percussiveness thrown in, is an original."[[4]]( Shore of London's Metro points to "her Beat-like verbal collages ('Cinnamon ginseng bootleg bourbon Calvados Berlin') and beautifully controlled associative word strings, all delivered with her distinctive vocal mixture of dark romanticism and punkish attitude".

Gillespie's compositions, Houdini of the Heart and Cinematic Nectar have been described as "blistering and beautiful" and "original, hard-edged".

Lara Eidi: An award -winning self made artist born in Athens to Lebanese Canadian parents. Multi-instrumentalist, storyteller, singer, composer and also a freelance music journalist, workshop leader and educator…the list of Lara’s skills is long, as has been her music career.

Lara discovered music at an early age – playing the piano and singing – and started performing from the age of 11 with the Greek National Opera Productions. She earned a Masters in Jazz Voice Studies with distinction from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London and completed a Degree in English Literature at the University of St Andrews. She has performed in some of the most renowned London venues – from St Martins in the Field to the Barbican, as well as Pizza Express Dean Street and the London Jazz Festival, Beirut International Festival, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, to name but a few – but also internationally, from her hometown of Athens to the Beirut International Festival. On stage, Lara doesn’t only sing but also plays the piano, the guitar and leads entire bands. Whilst collaborating with some of London’s acclaimed musicians across the jazz and folk scenes, she has self-released two EPs (‘Little People‘ and ‘Tell It Like It Is’) and, during the pandemic, launched and founded her own teaching platform, “Phonica Music Coaching”, through which she shares the important message of healing through music. This is also the essence of her music. All this wealth of experience converges into her album ‘Sun’, which incorporates Lara’s many talents as composer, musicians, singer and arranger, through stories of hope and empowerment.

The liner notes to ‘Sun’ were written by the Award winning jazz artist, writer, Recording Academy Voting member and our very own Women In Jazz Media Chief Fiona Ross. She writes: ”Music is an omnipotent tool. It has the potential to strengthen and empower. To bring light where there is dark. To calm the mind and soothe the soul. But these almost magical moments of connectivity can only be realised if placed in the right hands. Lara Eidi. Is those hands”.’ “Lara Eidi is an artist that thrives on being different, with a voice that’s clearly a gift “( Sandy Brown Jazz)

She’s collaborated with some of London’s finest musicians across the jazz and folk scenes, often switching roles between standing upstage as a versatile and engaging singer, to leading an entire band whilst sitting at the piano and singing.   Recently supported by Hawkwood College and the Francis W Reckitt Arts Trust, and about to release her biggest album to date ‘ Sun’, Lara’s talents and gifts saw her launching her own podcast series focused on songwriting with special guests- “The Notes Between” is supported by Women in Jazz Media.  This came shortly after she took up freelance music journalism during the pandemic, becoming a writer for Women in Jazz Media, London Jazz News, BackseatMafia .  Finally, her passion for music as a life choice has led her to become an in-demand educator, offering workshops at leading music institutions as well as community spaces in Europe. As if that wasn’t enough she launched and founded her own teaching platform “ Phonica Music Coaching “ during the pandemic, leading music sessions across the globe to people who needed an alternative method of healing; after all, it was music that led Lara to engage time and time again, and at the heart of her creativity is a need to make her personal experiences relatable to all, through her music.

Now residing between Athens and London, and a new album underway, “Sun” has already gained critical global acclaim from award winning journalists and she was just nominated for songwriter of the year by the renowned Orpheus Global Music Awards.

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