Carron Dawn Wright is a jazz singer/songwriter who has recently launched her very first EP, You Promised, recorded in response to her popularity around the London jazz scene.
At the young age of 5, Carron started sing and performing in musicals. She names one of her Primary School teachers, as the person who pushed her forward towards big and better things. “During a music class we were all singing and Mrs. Pentith suggested I auditioned for the Christmas play,” she tells me.
The itch for acting was starting to develop and while 7 year-old Carron kept pursuing her studies, she also enrolled in acting and dancing classes. Her family also lent a hand. “I used to watch old musical movies with my mum and my grandfather taught me to do ballroom dancing. When I finished my GSCEs I decided that I wanted to sing and perform in musicals.” In an effort to keep herself grounded, she also got involved in the family business.
It was when she turned 18 that she took a major step towards a potential acting career. “I moved to Blackpool to study musical theatre, and I completely fell in love with theatre – I still go to the theatre as often as I can.” Jazz, she adds, came later; when she moved to London in 2002. “I had always listened to it when I was a child but when I moved to Barnes where the famous Bull’s Head is located I would go whenever I could,” she says. After getting herself a day job to support her dream of becoming a musical theatre actress, Carron started writing her own songs and confesses that jazz started overcoming her passion for musicals. “I started to listen to different genres, particularly Nina Simone, Billy Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald. I mixed musical theatre with jazz and started to develop my own songs.”
Stopping doing musicals wasn’t an easy decision to make – Carron knew she wanted to perform under her own name when she went to a live performance by her friend Chris Fletcher. “I was listening to them and I knew that I wanted to write my own music and perform as me on stage rather than a character.” Her songs were very dear to her heart and they were deemed private, but it was that very performance that changed her outlook on songwriting. “They were private and about my emotions and at the time I didn’t want to share them. I found the song writing experience challenging because you start to question certain lines and words.”
Upon being asked on how she composes her songs, Carron shares that it came naturally – it isn’t rare to wake up with a tune in her head and head to the kitchen to record it, no matter what time of day or night it is. After recording it, Carron carefully considers how “to connect with the lyrics and the music and let the emotion come out. My acting days taught me that and for me it’s not about acting it’s about how you react to a line or an emotion that brings out what is needed.”
Carron is a self-confessed music lover, constantly listening to music on “walks into town, shopping or travelling”, and always has her guitar with her. “I think that any song can bring out an emotion or a reaction that you don’t expect”, she says. ELO’s hit Mr. Blue Sky has the ability to take her back to her childhood years, as her father used to play their albums. “But it has been theatrical and jazz artists that have inspired me to create the music on my album,” she says.
You Promised is a compilation of different moments in her life that changed her or forced her to make a decision, she says. Break-ups and promises are underlying themes – the title track, January’s Cold, she tells me is about “a relationship breaking down. It was a very difficult song to write but I drew from past experiences and found myself crying rather a lot during the process which led to December Comes, about making a promise that you will wait for someone to come home and you are missing them.” At the end of the day, though, it “was a promise to myself when I chose to leave musicals and follow a new passion.” The song Smile, on the other hand, is a different kind of promise, and a commitment to friendship. “[It's] a promise to my best friends Gemma and Helen who I may not see every day but I am always here for them.” James Noon was the mind behind the arrangements and production of the album. “[He] understands my little descriptions when I say certain things.” The duo are about to start work on a new album, which is to be released next year.
This year has been a busy one for her – apart from working on her new album, Carron has several live performances ahead of her over the UK and maybe even Europe come Autumn. “We have had some really great feedback for the EP and it has made the whole band and myself very happy. There are a couple of other things that are happening but I want to keep them under wraps for now but at the moment I am enjoying performing and very excited to be part of the music scene.”
Lastly, I ask Carron for advice to all aspiring musicians eager to get into the jazz scene. “I would say follow your dreams but stay true to yourself. If you find something that inspires you go with it but remember it is hard work and your determination will pay off. I discovered that it was live music and songwriting for me and when you discover your passion, you’ll just know that it is right!”
Carron Dawn Wright’s debut EP, You Promised, is now available on iTunes.