I have been singing for my supper since the late 1960s, singing regularly in the streets of London, and South coast seaside towns, first as a Bottler for Paris Nat, a well-known Busker at the time. I formed my first band; THE RACE, working mainly in the London area with one or two visits to the Continent to play at Clubs and Blues/Folk Festivals. Recording with them began my life as a Singer-Songwriter, recording artist and Performance Poet. My second Band was called Delivery, and with them I first played at Ronnie Scotts which became a lifetime favourite of mine, playing there recently in 2022. With Delivery, and then subsequent work, I began travelling frequently, to the USA, South Africa, all over Europe and Scandinavia.
Below, is a poetry performance.
During the early 1970s, I became an activist. At first, in my local community in North Kensington, being the first Musician to step up for Rock against Racism and Sexism. I sang for Reclaim the night, the striking Miners, Troops out and the Brunswick Women, local community fundraising.
After the birth of my second child in 1987, I began working with a group of young people in Poplar near where I lived in East London, adding sessions as a voice tutor at The City Literary institute, various Universities and internationally. In the late 1990s, I trained as a Voice Movement Therapist. During the 1980/90s I worked a lot with young people through the Prince’s Trust and others, around the UK including Somerset House in London.
As Musical Director for choirs, I helped found the Sing for Joy Choirs in London, for people with neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s and Multiple Sclerosis. The First Choir in Kentish Town Health Centre, London and the National Hospital for neurology in Bloomsbury. The Choirs performed regularly in London, in Hospitals, Southwark Cathedral, Westminster Hall, St. Pancras Station, The Stoke Newington Town Hall and TUC Congress Hall. The BBC made a documentary about the Choirs. See below.
I have recorded my own music in the UK, USA, Sweden, The Isle of Jura, Romney Marsh and Poland. Performing in the UK and Internationally with my own Music and Contemporary composers such as Orlando Gough, who directed The Shout, a 16 piece Choir/ Theatre company, winning several awards for its work, in The USA, Germany and other places, touring internationally for 12 years. The USA, Japan, including performing at The Festival Hall and Queen Elizabeth Hall, The National Portrait Gallery, on the River Thames and Embankment, and The Albert Hall in The Proms as a soloist, recorded live for the BBC. The singers, from very varied backgrounds – gospel, jazz, blues, contemporary classical, opera, and early music – and include several accomplished improvisers. It has been called a ‘vocal big band’, a ‘club choir’, a ‘vocal Stomp’, a ‘dangerous choir’, a ‘choir of Babel’ and a ‘choral phenomenon’.
See below link 1 The Shout
Romney Marsh below 2
In 2004 I took part in The Channel 4 series Soul Britannia, together with a wonderful band and singers, Madeline Bell and Linda Lewis, recording a concert live at The Barbican, then touring the UK. In 2015. A documentary was filmed by The Welcome Trust in London and Folkestone. During the 2020s I travelled both as a Performer and Voice facilitator in The USA Canada and South Africa.
Below – is a documentary. Click in the centre.
Writing has been a long-time passion and I have had several articles published around my work with young people and local communities and the Parkinsons choirs My memoir, The Singers Tale, was published in 2017. I performed my show, The singer’s Tale at The Edinburgh Festival and other places. I love writing as much as I love Music.
For more information and full discography see the website. Click on my Blog. Thank you. www.carolgrimes.com
https://vimeo.com/329525489 A poetry performance. London 2019
Proms 20, 21, 24, 25, 26
Royal Albert Hall, London SW7
After the first performance of a new work, composers sometimes have to wait years for a second. A few hours after the first realisation of his choral piece We Turned on the Light in an afternoon Prom (20) given by the BBC Scottish Symphony under Martyn Brabbins last Saturday, Orlando Gough heard it again that evening with the BBC Symphony under David Robertson. It went down a storm on both occasions.
Setting a new, ecologically correct text by Caryl Churchill reminding us how our over-consumption of the earth’s resources is landing us in big trouble, Gough’s work is scored for large chorus and full orchestra – forces he handles with immense flair and panache. As with the orchestra, the main body of singers changed between the two performances – youth choirs from all over the UK sang the first; the BBC Symphony Chorus and Huddersfield Choral Society the second. But, in both renditions, a lot of the punch of this explosive piece came from Gough’s own diversely constituted choir, the Shout – whose members come from backgrounds taking in gospel, jazz and blues, as well as contemporary classical, opera and early music – and from more informally assembled participants operating under the name of the Rabble.
These two Proms celebrated the singing voice. Getting the afternoon event off to a flying start was an atmospheric opener by Gough called, aptly, Open, which featured the mesmerising vocalism of Carol Grimes and Manickam Yogeswaran, among others, ricocheting around the Albert Hall at all levels and from every direction.
Vortex Club, London John Fordham Tuesday, September 3, 2002
The Vortex Club in north London, an establishment at which the alfresco nature of the decor has generally reflected an indifference to showbiz superficialities in music, has had a summer lick of paint. Carol Grimes, the forthright and defiantly independent jazz, blues and world music singer, has not had a summer lick of paint; nevertheless, she emits the same fierce glow that has been her trademark for 30 years. She played the relaunched venue at the weekend, having assembled an oddly balanced but fitfully luminous band in endorsement of the club’s return to health.
Grimes appeared with some familiar sidekicks in percussionist Josefina Cupido, trombonist Annie Whitehead and multi-instrumentalist Ian Maidman. It was an accomplished, impromptu ensemble hauled together for a limited purpose, but Maidman acts as several musicians (pianist, guitarist and bassist), so for the most part the set-up served Grimes well.
Grimes likes humane songwriters with an ear for life’s rawness and ironies, and she made Joni Mitchell’s Two Grey Rooms vibrate with a haunted nostalgia. The singer’s jubilant earthiness came out on
Wild Women Are Wonderful (co-written with keyboardist Janette Mason), her raw R&B edge given extra buoyancy by Whitehead’s improvised counterpoint on trombone. Whitehead’s playing, as Robert Wyatt has pointed out, makes her sound uncannily like a singer herself, with the trombone’s plummy sonorities and emphatic weightiness transformed into an airy, dreamy sound in her hands. She sounded like a softer edition of the Crusaders’ Wayne Henderson as Grimes roared, scatted and squawked on Women Are Wonderful, and became fluently sax-like on Randy Newman’s Baltimore. An old Grimes song, the Kurt Weill-like Alexandria Dance, wound up with the singer ascending into yodelling extemporisations over Cupido’s whispering hand-drumming. It was the kind of informal, no-frills, suck-it-and-see show from classy performers for which the Vortex has become so loved – and it is heartening to note that the club goes back to a full seven-night programme from October.
Carol Grimes CABARET Sunday 7 March CAFÉ PRAGUE
Welcome spring with Cafe Prague hostess Barb Jungr accompanied by Adrian York. Barb will be delighted to present British blues singer Carol Grimes and her band – a Komedia premiere! Carol is one of Britain’s top-drawer singers with a breathtaking performance history – most recently composer Orlando Goff’s The Shout. With a new CD for the first time in ten years, Carol is in new and outstanding form.
7.30pm – £8.50/£6.50 Cafe Prague @Komedia 09 March 2004
Is there a better way of spending a Sunday evening, than trying to forget the fact that in twelve hours’ time, the working week begins again? Clearly, most of the over 40’s in Brighton thought not.
Cafe Prague is Komedia’s regular mêlée of musical acts hosted by Barb Jungr.
As hostess and singer she is probably an acquired taste – larger than life but not quite as funny – but clearly had a following in the audience. With her overwrought-chanteuse voice and wild gesticulations, she livened us up with enjoyably confident and stylishly delivered New Orleans blues, Cole Porter, and several Dylan songs, very ably accompanied by Adrian York whose barrel-house blues style was only slightly marred by the miked-up underwater muddiness of a rather inadequate upright piano.
The second half was given over to Carol Grimes and band. With a voice that was delicate and agile, precise yet powerful, and with the band delivering a consistently tight and cooking blend of country-tinged jazz (bass, drums, guitar and the excellent Stan Adler on cello) she led us from Randy Newman and Joni Mitchell to an exhilaratingly bluesy version of the Pogues USA and a stunning Tom Waits encore (New Coat of Paint).
Komedia is one of Brighton’s best venues, but I always think they try to pack too many people into the upstairs cabaret bar. All the apologetic tapping on shoulders and shuffling of chairs whenever you need to get up for a drink or a pee is very irritating – but otherwise a chilled and uplifting way of taking the pain out of Sunday evening.
Foundation Big Band Vortex, London John Fordham
Friday September 19, 2003 The Guardian
You often find musicians trying, in myriad small ways, to change the world at the Vortex. But these highly skilled players are always fully committed to having a ball doing it. This combination of good causes and good fun, in the club’s liberal-bohemian ambience, is what makes the place special. On this occasion, the 11-piece, all-female Foundation Big Band was launching the Vortex’s latest campaign: to raise £250,000 to fit out its new premises in east London.
Since it came to life during the London jazz festival last year, the Foundation Band has grown from tentative beginnings into a charismatic bravura. The band has been touring lately, and the members’ growing mutual sensitivity to one another’s strengths and idiosyncrasies were evident from this show.
Though there were plenty of punchy solos – notably from the notional musical director, trombonist Annie Whitehead – the variety and richness of the compositions provided the biggest surprises. On this showing, the band is building a distinctive repertoire of its own, with connections to quite unexpected big-band jazz landmarks such as Oliver Nelson’s glossy sophistication and Don Ellis’s left-field funk.
This liberation wasn’t apparent, at first, from Kim Burton’s tautly interlocking but faintly static Latin opener Pigeon Post. But Diane McLoughlin’s New Day was an ebullient tussle of glowing melody lines, with Andrea Vicari injecting a vivid postbop piano solo over Josefina Cupido’s snare-drum crackle.
The pianist then added understated, Bill Evans-like chording under McLoughlin’s soaring alto solo, which vibrated with echoes of the late Cannonball Adderley.
Carol Grimes’s restrained power and Whitehead’s warm lyricism intertwined on the ethereal Now the Hour, with Grimes boldly veering into a kind of north African-inflected scat at the close. The eccentric Don Ellis element came from baritonist Izzy Barrett’s Showtime, with its trombone solo of exuberant percussiveness from Gail Brand and a vivid, bluesy guitar break from Deirdre Cartwright. Much more than a right-on gesture, this is a new British big band with a future.