'That's the clearest singing voice I've heard in here', was a comment overheard during Edwina Hayes's Old Ship Inn gig, 6th February. A discerning Warthog audience was treated to numbers that Edwina had written herself mixed with classic covers. Along the way she referenced artists collaborated with or opened for, including Ralph McTell, Boo Hewerdine and Bobby Wood (who has played with Elvis and written for Crystal Gayle and Leanne Rhymes among others).
Described as gentle folk Americana, vocalist and guitar player Hayes sat somewhere between Joni Mitchell and Suzanne Vega. Self-penned songs were mostly about unrequited love or, as she put it, 'fancying people who don't fancy you back!' Hence, titles like, Leave A Light On For You, Nobody's coming Round and Tell Me So. Pour Me A Drink, was in honour of her Dad, a likeable rogue who, now in Argentina, has been well travelled, hard drinking, and had several wives. In Open The Show For You, she dreamt of supporting Bob Dylan.
Between tracks Hayes entertained with a range of conversational anecdotes about her Mother's Bridlington chip shop, travels around America, and men longed for from afar. This included Richard Thompson whose songs also featured. Hayes delivered fine renditions of, From Galway to Graceland, and, Waltzing's For Dreamers. Add to this Donovan's Catch The Wind, Leonard Cohen's Famous Blue Raincoat, Don McLean's Vincent and perhaps the most upbeat, Joe South's Games People Play, it really was a complete musical feast.
Nottingham Evening Post
On the 25th of February Edwina Hayes returned for her fifth appearance at The Old Courthouse. It was a measure of Edwina's popularity that the gig had sold out well in advance.
Support acts can be hit and miss. Often they play to half interested crowds who are only there to see the main act. Tonight's support act was a definite hit. Stevie Mould is a 15 year old singer-songwriter from Driffield, and this was her first gig.
As a solo performer there wasn't the 'safety in numbers' you would get from appearing with a band. Stevie took all this in her stride, performing with a professionalism and talent far beyond her years. Between belting out covers such as Sam Cooke's Wonderful World and Kenny Roger's The Gambler, Stevie performed two of her own songs, Shining and See Me. At the end of her set Stevie wasn't able to leave the stage before performing an encore.
I've seen a lot of professional acts over the years who didn't have the talent and delivery of Stevie. If this is the point she is starting her singing career from then she has a bright future ahead of her.
Edwina's set is largely autobiographical. She weaves influences from her life into her set, both in terms of the song choices and the banter between.
Edwina Hayes is originally from Preston, living in East Yorkshire, with her heart firmly in Nashville. She brings together Americana, English folk and the rich northern singer-songwriter tradition to create a sound that is truly her own.
Her set included covers of Donovan, Thompson and Hank Williams One of the highlights of the night for me was a beautiful cover of Kate Rusby's Sleepless Sailor. Edwina also played a selection of her own songs such as Won Me Over and I Won't Say Your Name, showcasing her talents as an accomplished songwriter.
The evening ended with Stevie and Edwina performing a duet of To Make You Feel My Love, finishing another high quality evening of top notch music at The Old Courthouse.
Her third and arguably finest-so-far collection of utterly bewitching tunes, the aptly-titled 'Good Things Happen over Coffee' sees Yorkshire-based singer-songwriter Edwina pander to precisely what she knows best: lovelorn songs suffused with sublime melodies and heartbreaking vocal performances. Acting as an eagerly anticipated follow-up to 'Pour Me a Drink', her latest record features eleven tracks, all of which are as beautifully and thoughtfully crafted as each other.
Compassionately nursing an affecting strain of melancholy, 'Nobody's Coming Around' opens affairs, a lovely tune which features York's Andy Stones on guitar. Indeed, the entirety of the album is peppered with special guest appearances from the hugely talented likes of Mark Wynn, Holly Taymar, Carl Hetherington, Bobby Wood and Ali O'Keeffe. What's more, a clutch of Edwina's songwriting credits have been shared with various musical luminaries, one of whom is musical workhorse Boo Hewerdine.
An intoxicating cover of Leonard Cohen's 'Famous Blue Raincoat' effortlessly lends an air of nostalgia to proceedings, before 'Tell Me So' seduces a truly divine interpretation of John Prine's 'Speed of The Sound of Loneliness' into existence. Propelled by a chord progression which is as bold as it is beautiful, the song intimately explores the complex intricacies of love's trials and tribulations like few other songs. Interestingly, Edwina once met John's ex-wife about whom the song was written. Both of them were working in Nashville at the time.
'What Happens Now' proffers the ultimate reciprocal question. Concerned with the point at which a friendship harnesses the exhilarating potential to become much more than that, Edwina tenderly wonders if it's best to speak up about one's feelings and risk making a fool of oneself, or if it's wiser to stay quiet and risk being unhappy. It's a tough call; thankfully, the finger-picked tune is exquisite. 'Long Highway', co-written with David Martin, then steps up the pace, conjuring visions of a Kerouac-touting freebird lapping up the quiet byways of America.
Making for compulsive listening, 'Baught And Sold' triumphs as being the most arresting cut, its haunting marriage of perfectly pitched vocals and delicately strummed chords conspiring to produce one of the most sublime songs that Edwina's ever recorded. Achingly sad, yet buoyed by hope, it demands another spin as soon as the final note fades.
'Bend in The Road', meanwhile, pits a more upbeat tune into the fray, with Edwina optimistically hankering after a silver lining in every cloud. A short yet sensationally sweet ode to looking on the bright side of life, it squares up to 'Love Unknown' in fine style.
'Go Crazy' (complemented by a wonderful turn on Fender Rhodes from Bobby Wood) and 'I Can't Stop Loving You' (enlivened by a Countrified dobro melody courtesy of Andy Stones) soulfully bring the album to a lilting climax, leaving the entranced listener clamouring - without remorse - for more.
One of the saddest yet most memorable tracks in Eddy's superlative-laced back catalogue, 'I Can't Stop Loving You' encapsulates the smorgasbord of feelings inspired by a loved one leaving, Holly Taymar's soft backing vocals adding supplementary stabs of emotion to a tune that fittingly crowns what can only be described as a perfect cache of highly emotive, acoustic-based songs to savour.
Michael Parkinson described Edwina Hayes as "A very talented young lady," her recent performance at Mr Bens in Leeds reiterated her standing as one of the finest female singer-songwriters this country has produced for many a long year.
The deep red lighting and low ceiling, gave the evening a warmth that intensified with the rich claret voice of Edwina. The quote that "opposites attract" was on show as many of her songs are sad and melancholic, but are sung by an out-going and effervescent singer. It is easy to see how her delivery of songs won her acclaim and recognition in Nashville from her US contemparies, and surely no-one has covered Don McLean's "Vincent" with more panache.
After the success of her 2008 album "Pour me a drink," and the recent news that her cover of Randy Newman's "Feels Like Home," is to be included in this years film 'My Sister's Keeper' starring Cameron Diaz, Alec Baldwin and Joan Cussack, Edwina's world-wide fan-base are eagerly awaiting the release of her next album later this year, as this 'very talented young lady' continues to enthral and captivate all who hear or see her.
Leeds Music Promotions
POUR ME A DRINK - Edwina Hayes (Twirly Music TWIRL01CD)
Although Edwina's a well-regarded singer-songwriter with a wealth of experience (and travel!) under her belt, this is - amazingly - only her second solo record. Although it's markedly different from the first it's still very recognisably Edwina's own - and not just in the literal sense that her singing voice is so breathtakingly distinctive.
While, interestingly, her debut CD didn't quite reflect its title (Out On My Own), at any rate in terms of its expert and slick production (courtesy of Clive Gregson and John Wood), Pour Me A Drink is an altogether more intimate collection that places the focus even more squarely on Edwina herself, her voice and guitar (no other musicians appear, excepting Jake McKeague on dobro or guitar on the album's bookend-cuts). This minimalist gambit pays off handsomely, allowing for maximum concentration on the songs themselves via Edwina's fabulously expressive delivery and her thoroughly musical and delicately judged fingerpicking (no boring s/s strumminess here).
She really puts everything into communicating the message of a song: that's only to be expected in the case of her own compositions (even so, not all singer-songwriters are able to convey their own meaning as effectively!), but Edwina also brings something quite special to a cover version that you feel you're understanding its nuances of meaning for the first time - quite a gift that! (Just hear what she does with Richard Thompson's Waltzing's For Dreamers and Randy Newman's Feels Like Home. and she even makes playful capital out of the hoary old Froggie Went A-Courting!) Of the self-penned songs, standouts must embrace the yearning melancholy of Leave A Light On For You, the urgent, desperate Run (co-written with Carissa Broadwater, who also contributes harmony vocals), and the exquisite closer Irish Waltz. And the classic-sounding title track (a co-write with Clive Gregson), is the absolute epitome of resigned-heartbreak-lonesome. Albeit writ from personal experience, each song is both a masterpiece of introspection and an outward projection of encouragement and hope.
In conclusion: well, Out On My Own was pretty good, and a well-produced calling-card for a way-more-than-promising singer-songwriter; but, placed alongside Pour Me A Drink, there's almost no contest, for it's the latter that, simply stunning in its immediacy (and so closely approximating the pindrop atmosphere of her live appearances) truly convinces as the real-deal Edwina.
With her beautiful, heartfelt singing, excellent songs and effusive personality, Edwina Hayes was always one of the artists most likely to make it from the London acoustic scene in the early noughties.
After playing frequently in London, around the UK and in Nashville, Edwina was eventually signed by Warner Brothers with whom she released her debut album Out On My Own in 2004. Although OOMO contains some excellent songs, the intimacy of the Edwina Hayes live experience was rather lost with the slick arrangements provided by a band of well-known session musicians.
Much truer to Edwina's live solo sound is her new second LP Pour Me A Drink which features just her guitar and vocals with the only other musicians present being Jake McKeague on acoustic lead on two songs and Carissa Broadwater on backing vocals on one. Pour Me A Drink is an excellent album with the sparse arrangements bringing Edwina's superb, moving singing and bright finger-picking guitar style to the fore. Also impressive are the strong melodies and structures to the songs, many featuring bridges in a style somewhere between folk and quality country music.
Edwina's main lyrical theme is love, often of the unrequited kind. Among the best songs of the heart on Pour Me A Drink are Season Of Love, Run and Leave A Light On For You. Moving on to other subject matter, the title track is another instantly memorable highpoint with its tale of a life of regrets.
All of the songs on PMAD are written or co-written by Edwina apart from covers of tunes by Richard Thompson (Waltzing's For Dreamers) and Randy Newman (Feels Like Home) as well as the traditional Froggie Went A Courting. These covers fit seamlessly on this stark yet warm LP on which Edwina's beautiful voice will undoubtedly get the most accolades though her guitar playing and considerable compositional craft should not be overlooked.
Without the weight (in both senses of the word) of a major record company behind her, Edwina Hayes has produced a superior album, which is closer to her true live sound than her debut LP. Pour Me A Drink is recommended to anyone who likes quality singer-songwriters though if you get the chance, try to also see Edwina live where her warm-hearted and often humorous banter adds a further dimension to an already excellent performance.
There are many un-mined treasures studding the UK's live circuit and surely Yorkshire-based vocalist, Edwina Hayes, shines brightly among them. Possessed of a softly crystalline voice and a gentle country-folk sensibility, she's built up an enviable reputation both as a solo and one third of Hummingbird.
Her 2004 debut album, Out On My Own, produced by Clive Gregson, was a slickly polished affair and displayed a musical debt to hero-cum-mentor, Nanci Griffith. Four years on, Pour Me A Drink takes a more home spun approach, reflecting her live performance with a stripped down vocal and acoustic guitar sound. So often the "one-girl-and-an-acoustic guitar" formula descends rapidly in to strum-strum-strum monotony; not here, though. Such is the quality of Hayes's voice and delivery that the listener is immediately drawn into the song, while her delicate finger picking provides an engaging bed for the vocals.
The eleven tracks presented here are mostly self-penned and have been carefully honed on the road, while three covers are thrown in for good measure. Standout tracks include the haunting "Run" and "Season Of Love", which typify the sweet melancholy with which Hayes's songs are shot through. The dissolute title track is a live favourite and for good reason. Here it loses none of its ability to move. Even her version of Richard Thompson's "Waltzing's For Dreamers" stands head-held-high when compared with the original-high praise indeed.
Rock n Reel
Edwina Hayes interview:
Did you grow up in an artistic family ? When did you know you were made for singing?
"I grew up in house that was always full of music. My Mum would play Ray Charles, John Denver, Dolly Parton, Rita Coolidge, Kris Kristofferson, Simon and Garfunkel, Barbara Streisand and all kinds of music that I still love to this day. My Grandad was a boogie woogie piano player in Liverpool in the 1940's and like me he played by ear, so I think music is definitely in my blood!"
You live both in England and the United-States. Where do you feel better?
"I love living in both places. To me they are very similar as I have great friends and pretty much do the same things (play gigs, hang out with friends etc...) whether Im in America or in the UK."
Is it easier to live as a folk singer in Nashville than in England?
"I think life is a lot easier for a musician to live in Nashville than it is in England yes. It's easier to get by on tips and gigs, things are more laid back and the coffee is better!"
This second LP is very acoustic. How did your first one sound?
"My first LP was fully produced with session players and a full band. It's a lovely album but as one of my best friends put it, it's a shame there isn't a bit more of me in it! The first LP did me a lot of favours, being on a major label it opened a lot of doors for me, but was not the album that it should have, and so easily could have been. To me, this second LP is the first Edwina Hayes album."
You made some openings for Jools Holland. He is very famous in Great Britain! What did you feel, then?
"I loved opening all the shows for Jools Holland. I did 26 shows, and the crew and band were all fantastic and a lot of fun. I was very nervous at first at the sheer size of the venues as they were so big, but I soon got used to them and loved every single minute!"
Did you meet Sam Brown who has been his backing vocalist for a long time?
"I did meet Sam, she is an amazing lady and a truly amazing singer, one of the true great singers of all time in my opinion. Sam was always very kind and friendly to me which I really appreciated at some of the big venues, when I would be quaking with nerves backstage all by myself! She's an absolutely lovely lady."
I read you like Carole King. So do I!!!! Can you explain what do you like in her singing or personality?
"I first heard Carole King's Tapestry LP when I was 18 years old in college. Hearing it inspired me to learn some of the songs from it on the acoustic guitar and I began playing them for friends, which started me off on the path to being an acoustic singer/songwriter myself. Tapestry remains one of my favourite albums, the songwriting and Carole's voice really resonated with me and I can't Thank her enough for that beautiful album!"
Who created this beautiful jacket for your new record?
"The cover of my new record was painted by the lovely and talented Helen Batty, an artist from York. She is amazing and you can see more of her artwork here: www.myspace.com/helenpenny "
For how long have you been a professional singer?
"The definition of a professional singer is someone who makes a living from singing alone and until recent years, Ive always had to have a part time job on the side! So I suppose Ive been doing it semi-professionally for 12 years and professionally for the last 2!"
How do you imagine your future as an artist?
"I imagine it will continue pretty much the same, with hopefully more and more gigs, in more places, to more and more people for many years to come!"
Do you write all of your songs all by yourself?
"I like to write songs by myself and also with friends and other songwriters."
Do you make some covers in your gigs?
"I do! I love to sing covers, before I ever wrote a song I would sing covers and still very much enjoy singing them!"
If you could make 3 wishes for this year 2008?
Ooo - lets see, well I would wish for:
1. To have a coffee with Bob Dylan and maybe write a song with him
2. To be thinner
3. To have a song in a movie!"
Agnes In The Sky
A marked departure from her debut album, Edwina's follow-up to Out On My Own sees her presenting a far more intimate collection of songs. For the most part it's just her and her acoustic guitar.
Save for appearances from Carissa Broadwater and guitarist Jake McKeague, guest musicians this time around are few and far between, yet Pour Me A Drink triumphs so defiantly because there's quite simply nothing to distract the listener from the breathtaking range of Edwina's voice. The gently finger-picked and strummed melodies are appropriately fragile, lending a rare strain of melancholy to her songs that make them devastatingly moving. Honesty is always the best policy, and Edwina evidently realizes as much. Her lovelorn lyrics cut straight to the bone, with the exquisite Run - co-written with Carissa Broadwater - opening proceedings.
The aching and longing that pervades Leave A Light on For You has been captured perfectly, while Edwina's cover of Richard Thompson's Waltzing's For Dreamers proves just how skilled she is at interpreting other people's songs. Indeed, Edwina made the conscious decision to include a couple of covers on Pour Me A Drink in order to make the release better reflect her live shows: she often slips songs, by all manner of Country and Folk singers into her sets. A corking rendition of the traditional Froggie Went A Courting also makes its presence felt.
Season Of Love, Call Me and the title track itself are further examples of emotion-packed songwriting at its finest. Heartbreakingly introspective yet emotionally uplifting, Edwina crafts songs that never fail to touch a nerve.
Having written songs inspired by personal experience from time spent living in the United States and the UK, she allows her voice to breathe life into her lyrics with a maddening passion, knowing when to adjust the pace and mood of her graceful melodies accordingly.
Pretty Lady is something of a surprise, subtly edging into Acoustic-Pop territory through being so catchy, yet it's the final track, her sublime Irish Waltz, that's the icing on the cake. Given that Edwina's previously lived in Nashville, Americana music has naturally had a huge impact on the type of songs she pens. Fortunately, this results in Edwina's music being a winsomely original blend of genres, anchored as always by her distinctive voice that could have the likes of Alison Krauss and Kate Rusby weeping into their mics were they to hear it.
Released on her own label, Twirly Music, Pour Me A Drink is destined to attract new fans aplenty.
Edwina Hayes' second album, Pour Me A Drink, finds her eschewing the highly produced sound of her debut release for a delightfully intimate, acoustic offering. The decision to record a stripped-back sound pays dividends on Hayes' exquisite self-penned material, allowing plenty of room for Hayes' gentle guitar picking and unrelentingly beautiful voice. The gentle melancholy of Hayes' mellow folk-pop couldn't sound better.
Songs like "Run" and "I Won't Say Your Name" positively ache with the weight of longing and sorrow, though Hayes' sublime vocals ensure that it's a bittersweet affair throughout, with the unerring comfort of her sweet tones. The title track is a delicious bluesy saunter that wears its world-weary heart well and truly on its sleeve, with a refrain that almost sighs with resignation: "Pour me a drink / light me a cigarette / help me forget / the things that I've done."
In a nice touch, the last pages of the CD booklet are scattered with the names of an assortment of Hayes' favourite artists, ranging from the likes of Van Morrison and Nanci Griffith to those who are still paying their dues in folk clubs up and down the country. Hayes also nods towards the influence of others with the inclusion of a couple of covers: Randy Newman's "Feels Like Home" and a heartbreaking interpretation of Richard Thompson's "Waltzing's For Dreamers." A somewhat playful rendition of the traditional song, "Froggie Went A Courting," also appears.
For those already familiar with Hayes' winsome writing talents and seductive vocals, Pour Me A Drink provides the opportunity to fall in love all over again; for those discovering Hayes for the first time, it will surely be a case of love at first sight.
Acoustic singer songwriter, Edwina Hayes who attended Newman College talks about her new album, her top tips for students and how she is balancing her time between the UK and America.
Originally a student from All Hallows High School, during the last three years, Edwina has toured in the UK three times with Nanci Griffith, appeared at Glastonbury, opened 26 shows for Jools Holland, played twice with Van Morrison and performed two concerts for Michael Parkinson. Her profile and acquaintances in the Music Industry are enviable to say the least, so how did the A Level student progress into such an accomplished songwriter.
"Although I am no longer in the area, I have so many great memories of Preston, It's where I grew up so they are mainly memories of school and my time at Newman. I received the grades to study at Chester University and shortly after, my mum retired and bought a Fish and Chip Shop in Bridlington, East Yorkshire but I still visit all my friends and family in the area." .
At Newman, College Edwina studied A Levels in English Literature, History, French and General Studies, she progressed onto a degree in English Literature & Drama. Whilst at Newman, Edwina developed a love for Music and started to play the guitar and perform folk music. During her time at University, she also went on to writing songs herself which built up gradually to the career she has today.
"My top tip for any aspiring singer/songwriters is to play in front of people as much as possible. For me, open mic nights were invaluable in giving me the confidence to develop as a performer. Play wherever and whenever you can!"
Edwina's new album, 'pour me a drink' is on sale and she is currently enjoying her tour dates. Most recently, she was featured on Radio 2 which has always been an ambition.
"It was great to be on Radio 2, one of my earliest memories is of being in the car and my mum having Terry Wogan on!"
"I am currently working on corralling my endless gigs into two touring periods, Spring and Autumn, so I can free up eight months or so of the year to live over in America."
"There have been so many highlights of my career so far so it's really tough to pin point them. Really it's the small things that mean the most to me, such as Nanci Griffith coming on stage to sing with me, Van Morrison chatting to me when he is famously not fond of talking to anybody. Also things like driving across America with my guitar on the back seat."
"My second album is very acoustic and reflective of what I do at my gigs. I am actually very grateful to new media like MySpace for allowing me to spread my music worldwide, it's really a great resource for independent artists. So the plan really is to become even more established, and play, play and play some more! (oh and to meet Bob Dylan)"
It's not every day you get to see a world-class singer-songwriter perform in Driffield. Similarly, it's rare for the singer-songwriter in question to actually live in town.
But then Edwina Hayes, despite her profile and enviable acquaintances in the music industry, is thoroughly modest and down-to-earth. She doesn't seem the type of person to expect front-page headlines even when they're due. Hence her latest low-key performance at Driffield Folk Club.
Having lived in cities as far-flung as London and Nashville, Edwina presently calls Driffield home. And, almost a year to the day since she last took to the Folk Club's humble stage, she returned to play a mixture of songs from her debut album, Out On My Own, and her brand-new release, Pour Me A Drink.
'It's a poor marketing strategy, but I've only got four copies of my new album for sale,' she guffawed, acknowledging the merchandise desk at the back of the venue. As self-deprecating as ever, Edwina perpetually peppers her shows with anecdotes aplenty, all of which provide an insight into the inspiration for her Country-rooted songs. Interestingly, her latest release also features a handful of covers songs, included because she strove to produce an album that reflected the nature of her live shows, given that she regularly performs songs by the likes of Gillian Welch and Nanci Griffith.
Gliding onto the stage with her Tanglewood acoustic guitar, she opened with the intimate Leave A Light On For You, clearly glad to be playing in front of so many friends and family. Blessed with a rich, full-bodied voice that perfectly captures the mood of her soul-stirring melodies, she went on to play Run and Call Me, before revealing that the title track from her latest album - Pour Me A Drink - had been partially inspired by her dad.
Delighted to have finally released her second album, Edwina said she'd love it if somebody covered one of her songs, before she plunged into a bewitching rendition of Randy Newman's Feels Like Home.
Having worked and toured with a whole host of prodigiously talented people (Boo Hewerdine, Sandi Thom and Jools Holland to name a few), she manages to remain grounded and focused, having released Pour Me A Drink on her own Twirly Music label. And while her music is undeniably anchored in the Contemporary Country genre, its flavour's blended with doses of Folk and Americana at its finest. Paying tribute to one of her biggest influences in Richard Thompson, Edwina played a sublime version of his Waltzing's For Dreamers, confiding that she - like Thompson - can't get enough of writing sad songs concerned with unrequited love. Still, it's when she's singing her own self-penned tunes that her talents really shine to blinding degrees, with the short-but-sweet Bend In The Road and Open The Show proving to be set highlights, as catchy and captivating as they are.
Wearing her heart on her sleeve, Edwina consistently crafts lilting ballads that encapsulate the idiosyncrasies of the human condition, and everybody's desire to be desired.
When you can count Michael Parkinson and Bob Harris amongst your fans, it's safe to say that you must be doing something right. Having had her songs featured on radio shows presented by such aforementioned luminaries, it's clear that Edwina Hayes is a supremely talented singer-songwriter to be reckoned with. On record, she's incredible; in person, she's unbelievable.
And to think, she lives in Driffield!
Now just imagine if we had an Arts Centre to call our own, where she could play to her heart's content...
Driffield hits right note with Edwina Hayes.
A DRIFFIELD musician whose career is going at full speed ahead has praised her home town's commitment to live music.
Solo acoustic musician, Edwina Hayes, has recently embarked on her first headline tour and is looking forward to playing a Driffield venue in March. The singer-songwriter, who returned to Driffield several years ago after spending time in London and abroad, is impressed with the increasing number of pubs and other venues which are putting on live music events. "I have travelled all over but came back here three years ago. It's nice to play in Driffield because I only have to walk down the road," she said. "I am glad there is more music here now and places to play. It is really good that people are keeping live music going, because otherwise people like me would have nowhere to play."
Edwina started her most recent tour, promoting her new album Pour Me a Drink due to be released next month, at the beginning of the year and said her new material has been going down very well with audiences. She is also playing several dates supporting Nashville songwriter Gretchen Peters. Edwina said she likes to be able to bring the songs she writes to people without using a record label as a middleman, favouring inter-net networking sites, such as MySpace and Facebook, and playing lots of gigs to reach fans. In her opinion, it is possible, and even preferable, to enter the music industry without a recording contract dictating how things should be done - she prefers to do things in her own way. "You don't need to put yourself at the mercy of a record company. The plays I had on the radio had nothing to do with a record company," she said. "Artists such as myself are learning that you don't need a record deal any more. They tend to make a song into something completely different to what you are."
Edwina describes Pour Me a Drink as "the album I really wanted to make with a guitar and my voice." She added: "When someone buys my album I want them to hear what they've heard at my gigs. It's very simple." Once the tour is over, Edwina plans to spend time writing material for her next album and splitting her time between hereand other parts of the world, such as Nashville. She said: "This is my first headline tour and after this I plan to spend a few months working on new songs and that kind of thing. I was living in Nashville for a while and will probably go back, if I can afford it."
The self-taught singer-songwriter first picked up a guitar at school and continued to play when her family moved from Preston in Lancashire to Bridlington in 1994. She cut her teeth playing cover songs at Bridlington Folk Club in the mid-1990s until she moved to London in 1999 and started performing her own songs at open mic nights.
Edwina's tour is taking her to scores of venues up and down the country between now and April, including The Junction in York on February 24, The Tiger's Lair in Hull on February 27, Driffield Folk Club at the Blue Bell on Riverhead on March 1 and The Processed Pea in Etton on April 1.
The Driffield Post
Leading Ladies 5: Edwina Hayes
What were you like at school?
"I was quite sensible and clever at school! I went to a lovely school full of inspiring teachers and feel very lucky to have had such a great start in life. I was a prefect and also did public speaking and was forever performing in school plays and concerts."
What would you tell your 18-year-old self if you could go back in time?
"I would advise my 18-year-old self not to start smoking, and to buy some property!"
Are you multi-lingual?
"I speak a little conversational Spanish but I haven't written a song in any other language. I actually am not too keen on songs in English that suddenly break into a verse in another language. I love traditional songs from around the world but I like songs to be the same language all the way through please."
Do you have a tattoo?
"I don't have a tattoo, but have always fancied one."
What's the worst job you've ever worked and what was so bad about it?
"The worst job I've ever worked was as a pizza chef in Cairns, during a year's working holiday in Australia when I was nineteen. It was a 24-hour place and was a tiny shop, with three staff per day doing an eight hour shift each. The thing that made it awful was that the tiny kitchen was infested with cockroaches and as the manager was used to employing a string of backpackers on a temporary basis, he would pop in several times a day to make sure you were working hard! I did the 8am to 4pm shift and so had to prepare all the ingredients during the morning, which involved using a huge and terrifying metal machine to slice all the veg for the pizza toppings, and also preparing mountains of pizza dough. It was horrendous and I was thrilled to get a job working in a souvenir shop shortly after starting, so I didn't have to work there for too long!"
What's your favourite quote?
"I'd rather have nothing than settle for less" (Warren Beatty to Dustin Hoffman in the film 'Ishtar'). 'Ishtar' is my favourite film and was one of about twelve videos available to rent from the Spar across the road when I was fifteen. I think I rented it out about 57 times while pretending to revise for my GCSEs, and I recently found it again on Amazon. It's still the funniest thing I've ever seen! Apparently it was desperately unpopular and a huge box office flop, which kind of makes me love it even more!"
What's the biggest problem facing the world today?
"I think the biggest problem facing the world today is the same problem that was facing it yesterday and that is mankind and our capacity to create and destroy, divide and conquer. It's not really our fault though, as we are simply evolution in action and what will be will be. But there is so much suffering in the world that it's sometimes quite staggering to comprehend. I don't know how we can address this as our society is dominated and regulated by power, corruption and greed. The only thing one can do is to be the best person they can possibly be and hope for the best."
What's your biggest fear?
"I don't really have one big fear that I can think of but the thought of anything happening to my family and friends is probably the scariest thing I can imagine."
Would you rather see a ghost or simply have a piece of toast and watch the evening news?
"Toast please. With just butter!"
If you had to pick one song from your repertoire to represent your entire body of work, which one would you choose and why?
"I would probably say I Want Your Love as I'm a big fan of love songs, in particular the theme of unrequited love. My favourite songs to listen to and sing by other artists are love songs, and I think that I Want Your Love reflects that."
What's your favourite song to cover and why?
"My favourite song to cover is Feels Like Home by Randy Newman because it's such a beautiful song and such a joy to sing. Also, I like playing it to people who haven't heard it before as I think that everyone should hear Randy Newman's songs, as they're so fantastic."
Do you have an instrument you'd still like to learn? What's stopping you?
"I would love to learn to play the piano. I would love to be able to compose songs on a keyboard and have always fancied the idea of being a piano player in a lovely piano lounge, Billy Joel style. I don't know what's stopping me, where's the Yellow Pages? I'm booking a lesson today!"
What's been the best moment of your career so far?
"The best moments of my career so far, for me, have been what my friend Sam Semple would call the "small victories". Moments that have not necessarily been important career wise, but which meant the world to me. They include Jools Holland signing the back of my guitar at one of the shows I did with him and Nanci Griffith sneaking out onstage to sing backing vocals with me at one of the gigs I did supporting her, Fab stuff!"
Which artist would you most like to work with?
"Bob Dylan, I would love to write a song with him, or just play some music with him. Actually a chat and a coffee with him would be fine, I basically would just like to be his new best friend."
What have you done today to make you feel proud?
"Today I hosted a songwriting workshop with nine teenagers. They all started writing new songs which we will finish in a second session next week. It was really inspiring and wonderful to have a hand in helping young musicians."
What kind of person would have sex to your music?
"Goodness, I have no idea! Although they'd obviously be a person with excellent taste in music!"
Tick tock, tick tock. What you waiting, what you waiting for?
"I am waiting for true love and a call from Bob Dylan asking me to be the opening act on his Never Ending Tour. Ha!"
Only a few days previous she'd been supporting country star Nanci Griffith, yet Edwina Hayes was as down-to-earth as ever when she made a most welcome return to Driffield Folk Club on Saturday night. Mixing material from her debut album, Out On My Own, along with some fantastic cover songs, Edwina's enchanting charms immediately had the Folk Club crowd engaged, not least because of the many witty anecdotes about her life - both on personal terms and concerned with her life on the road - that she enthusiastically recounted. Despite currently being part of a trio called Hummingbird, Edwina is also renowned as a solo singer-songwriter, and tonight's show saw her take to the stage immaculately dressed in black with just her beloved Tanglewood acoustic guitar for company. From the off, her relaxed confidence shone through, whether singing her own songs in her own inimitable style, or breathing new life into old classics which included Randy Newman's 'Feels Like Home' and John Prine's 'Sound of The Speed of Loneliness.'
It's long been Edwina's wish to open for Bob Dylan, who is often regarded as the founding father of the Folk music movement. Although she might not have opened for Bob (yet), she has supported plenty of big-names stars in the past few years such as Van Morrison, Daniel Beddingfield and Sandi Thom.
One glance at Edwina's gig calendar for the rest of 2007 goes to show that she regularly plays the length of breadth of England, making this relatively rare appearance in Driffield all the more special. Having supported Nanci Griffith in Milton Keynes and London earlier in the week, Edwina gushed that it made a refreshing change to be able to literally just drive 'down the road' in her trusted Micra to play, living as she now does in Driffield.
Because she spends so much time on the road, driving to and from gigs, it seemed inevitable that some of her songs have themes of travelling at their soulful heart. For the most part though, her songs are love songs, brought to life by way of her undeniably angelic voice and exceptional melodies, either expertly finger-picked or strummed on her guitar. Many such love songs, she revealed, have been born out of some quite embarrassing scenarios involving a multitude of crushes that she's had on men in the past, one or two of whom she met when she lived in Nashville for a two year period. During this time Stateside she coincidentally met the ex-partner of songwriter John Prine while she was working in a restaurant in the city, a story that provided another fascinating insight into Edwina's extraordinary life. Another anecdote involving one of her musical heroes in Richard Thompson was shared, too. Edwina met Richard at Cropredy Music Festival, where she plucked up the courage to go and speak to him. All went well until she admitted to him that she often hoovered whilst listening to one of his songs: a fact that he seemed bemused by. As a result, Edwina self-deprecatingly re-iterated the belief that it's often best to never meet your heroes: It's not that they'll let you down; it's that you'll let yourself down!
The majority of Edwina's songs are mid-paced wonders, yet her anthemic Closer To Home cunningly borders on Pop territory given its catchy chorus, whilst still being firmly rooted in Folk and Country territory. Even my faster songs tend to be downtempo, she lamented with a laugh at one point. Regardless of the pace or tone of her songs, every last one that she performed was nothing short of stunning. Other highlights from her own back catalogue included the spellbinding Won Me Over, I Can't Believe and Want You To Stay, the latter song of which comes complete with the great lyric, And here I am, with my heart on the line, I'd rather look a fool than never have tried.
Come her encore, in the form of Don McLean's 1972 hit Vincent, I had to admit that - when all had been said and sung - it had been the best night out I'd had in Driffield for years.
For more information about Edwina and forthcoming gigs, visit www.edwinahayes.com.
Hi Edwina, how are things?
"Hi Steve, really well thank you!"
What have you been up to lately, and how has 2005 been in general?
"Lately I've been writing and recording some new songs and now I'm getting ready to go on tour with Jools Holland. It's been a great year so far, with lots of new and wonderful experiences such as touring the UK for the first time with some great artists, and promoting my album. It's all been great fun and really interesting and exciting!"
Earlier in the year you released your fantastic debut album Out On My Own. How have you reacted to the widespread acclaim that the release has received?
"I'm really happy that people like my record and have been thrilled by how many people have bought it, especially at gigs. Also Michael Parkinson and Bob Harris have been playing songs from it on their Radio 2 shows, which has been wonderful."
You have performed with many very well known singer-songwriters such as Van Morrison, Jools Holland, and Daniel Bedingfield. Do you have any favourite moments from any of the shows that you have done with such stars?
"All of it has been amazing and all the artists have treated me so well, but I think as Jools was the first person to have me as an opening act for a big show, I will always remember stepping out onto his big stage for the first time and how magical that was! A couple of other highlights that spring to mind are Van Morrison shaking my hand after I opened the show for him, Nanci Griffith being so warm and gracious and Jools signing the back of my guitar!"
Having been born in Dublin and raised in Lancashire, you now live in Yorkshire. Has any special reason brought you over to this part of the UK?
"Yes, my Mum bought a chip shop and cafe in Bridlington in 1994 which all of us helped to run for 3 years! I had just returned from a year working in Australia and it was all great fun!"
Can you remember the first time that you picked up a guitar or sang? Has singing and playing guitar come naturally over the years or have you found you have to work really hard at both?
"I played the guitar a little bit at school in assemblies which is where I learnt a few basic chords but I really started singing and playing from the heart at college when I first heard music by Carole King, Janis Ian, Crosby Stills Nash & Young and Van Morrison and Bob Dylan. I went to college in Chester and there was an American exchange student down the hall from me called Kathleen who used to teach me songs and let me borrow her guitar."
You have worked with Shane Lynch on his debut album. Would this be the same Shane Lynch who used to sing in Boyzone and who is now a part-time rally driver?
"Yes I believe so, although I didn't know he was a part-time rally driver! I met Shane in Belfast when we were both guests on a popular Irish chat show called The Kelly Show. He heard me singing and invited me to do a duet with him on his forthcoming solo album."
Returning to your Out On My Own album, do you have a favourite song on there that you enjoy performing more than any other?
"Actually I do, I really like the fourth song called I Can't Believe and lately I've been enjoying singing that one the most at my gigs."
As well as playing big venues, you also regularly perform intimate gigs in smaller venues such as at acoustic evenings. Are nerves ever still a problem?
"Oooh yes, I always get nervous before a gig, but luckily I only ever start feeling them about half an hour before I go on stage. The last ten minutes before going on are the worst, I can't seem to speak or make sense of anything, it's a very strange thing!"
Have you written many new songs since the release of your album, and are there any more releases in the pipeline any time soon or will we have a long wait for a fresh single or album?
"Yes, I have been writing some new songs over the last few months and I have several songs that I didn't put on Out On My Own that I will put on my second record. I don't know when I will make a second one as I am going to continue to promote this one at least til next Spring, but there will be another one at some point!"
What do you think of the current acoustic scene in the UK and the wider world at large?
"I love the current acoustic scene here in the UK. It's a scene that has always been here and always will be here and I'm thrilled to see some people crossing over from it onto mainsteam radio and CD. I am familiar also with the acoustic scene in Nashville which is very similar to London.
There are so many great artists out there doing their thing just because they love it and it's a great shame that so much of it goes unheard by the masses. I'm very proud to be a part of it and will always go to open-mics and singer's nights for as long as I live! It annoys me when people knock the open -mic circuit as to me it is an invaluable resource for singer songwriters and I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing today without them."
Oh, and are you still waiting for that dream call from Bob Dylan in which he begs you to go on tour with him?
"Oh yes! And when it comes I won't be coming back!"
Ambitious: Edwina Hayes
Open mic nights get their fair amount of stick, but in a UK music scene otherwise ruled by Simons (Fuller and Cowell), the acoustic circuit is the last bastion of democracy.
Anyone with a guitar and a dream can turn up and once their name is on the list, it's up to them to convert their floor spot into a big break.
One star to rise through such ranks is Edwina Hayes, who returns to the Halfmoon this Sunday with fellow singer-songwriter Sam Semple, replacing Hayes' friend Ivor Game who was to play.
"Funnily enough," she recalls, "Ivor was at the first acoustic gig I ever walked into in London, at the Playpen in Earls Court. It was November 1999 and I took my guitar along hoping I could do a couple of songs. "When I went back the following week, he was headlining and I ended up going every week for a year."
Another Playpen baby of the period was KT Tunstall, earning a not-to-be-sniffed-at Â£30 a spot. "But her stuff was a lot more ballady in those days," says Hayes, "not quite as rocky as she is now."
Hayes' material could never be classed as rocky - her voice on debut album Out on My Own as sweet as honey in your tea and her music, folk-tinged ballads with a shot of Jack Daniels country attitude. Dublin-born and Preston raised, she has divided the last six years between London and Nashville, working the acoustic scene in both cities.
"I first went over there in 2000, but it was never to be a big country music star," she says of Tennessee. "I fell in love with the place and its musical community. There's a real coffee shop culture, similar to the London circuit, but it's a lot easier to work a few shifts and write at the same time."
It was out in the States that Hayes first met her longtime idol Nancy Griffiths, with whom she has just toured for a second time. Jools Holland, Van Morrison, Loudon Wainwright III and Daniel Beddingfield are other acts she has supported over the past year.
What of her future ambitions? "I want to make a second album," says the 33-year-old. "The first one got a lot of support from Bob Harris and Michael Parkinson, but it didn't make the Radio 2 playlist. A big break would be brilliant, of course, but I'm going to keep doing this forever."
In the meantime, her song, I Want Your Love, has featured on the best- selling compilation Acoustic Love, alongside Daniel Powter, Dido and the ubiquitous James Blunt. "I was thrilled to be included on it," says Hayes, "especially because my song was two tracks away from Bob Dylan.
"My greatest ambition would be opening for Bob Dylan, writing a song with him, basically being his best friend! But if I got run over by a bus tomorrow, at least I could say I was on the same CD as him."
Edwina Hayes is a singer-songwriter in every sense of the word. Her delicate melodies and heartfelt lyrics have won her collaborations with the industry's best and co-operation from the many of the greats; she has supported the likes of Nancy Griffith, Loudon Wainwright III and Van Morrison.
Born in Dublin and raised in Lancashire, Edwina eventually broke though on the London acoustic circuit and released her debut album Out On My Own last February.
We caught up with her at Cropredy...
So Edwina, your set sounded great, is this your first festival? "Yes it is, but it was it really, really lovely! I was so nervous five minutes beforehand, but the sound was great and I really enjoyed it."
You seemed to get a great reception from the audience... "They were really nice! They were so warm, and all the staff were great as well."
Let's talk a little about your influences, you seem to be a singer-songwriter in the purist sense yet your songs seem to have their roots in American folk...
"It's funny you say that" Well really when I picked up the guitar and started picking out songs to learn, the ones I chose were Carole King, Joni Michell, Bob Dylan and then Nancy Griffith and when I discovered Nancy Griffith I think that Americana twist came in, so yeah I think I'm a bit of both! I really like to sing a mixture of English folk and American singer-songwriters.
I'm also very influenced by my peers. I spent two years living in Nashville and picked up a lot from a girl named Mindy Smith, one of my friends, and also a girl called Kate York, they're great!
And over here in England, Tom Baxter is emerging from the London acoustic scene. So I really am influenced by my peers and the old greats, nothing in-between!
My social life really is going to my friends' gigs and my CD collection is mainly CDs by my friends, their demos! And I've got Bob Dylan, Van Morrison and all my favourites.
I love Gillian Welch as well, she's another recent influence and I've written a couple of songs that are along that kind of line, I think she's fantastic. "
So you grew up in Lancashire, did you start out by playing the acoustic scene in the North-West?
"No I didn't, it was really the local circuit in Yorkshire - my mum moved to Yorkshire in 1994, so I started going to Bridlington folk club and the local folk clubs round there, but I've never been a major act on the northern folk circuits as I moved to London and hit the acoustic scene.
I did a lot of 'under the radar' stuff for years and never went looking for a deal, but by chance I got a writing deal from Warner/Chappell because one of my songs ended up on their desk...
That was a fluke! A guy was coming around scouting and he passed on my live CD and two years later I got a call. I then took on a manager, so I now had a manager and a writing deal and between the two of them they knocked on Warner Bros upstairs and got me a very small record deal.
They just gave money for the album, no advance, so it's real small potatoes; I'm going round doing all this promotion with no money, but I don't care! The lovely thing is that I got loads of people to work with me to make the album, like Clive Gregson, and John Wood [has produced Nick Drake]. We even got one of Clive's old mates Dennis Locorriere [sings with Dr Hook] funnily enough when I started writing I used to listen to the Dr Hook album when I was getting ready to go out... "
How did you feel when you were told that you would be working with these well-respected industry figures?
"A bit awestruck actually. The first week in the studio I hardly spoke, I was very timid. Then I thought that I'd better get on with it, although we were only in the studio for three weeks so it was a really daunting prospect. If they suggested something and I wasn't keen on it I thought 'Well okay - they know what they're doing' but by the second week I found the courage to speak my mind."
So, your album Out On My Own came out in February - how is that doing?
"Well, Ive been getting support from Bob Harris, he's been playing me even though I'm not on the Radio 2 playlist, which is quite nice as getting on there is ever so hard! And the latest person to champion me is Michael Parkinson; he's being playing Eyes of a Stranger for about eight weeks now on his early morning show. He's also likes the No Idea, the song that I am bringing out as a single."
Everything seems to look very promising...
"Everything is looking good. I think it's going to be very slow with the record, I'm not going to be an overnight success, but I just think that it's great that singer-songwriters are emerging again. There really are so many good people that are never going to get heard and they're just awesome!"
Edwina's new single, No Idea will be out at the end of August. She has a many forthcoming promotional gigs and will be supporting Jools Holland in October.