Who or what inspired you to take up singing and pursue a career in music?
My dad, a steelworker, played in the local brass band in Flint, North Wales. I can’t remember my life before music. Mum played piano so lessons with Miss Werner were another given. Singing didn’t come until I was twelve or thirteen. Sunday school, Scouts, then a pop band at fifteen. Dad drove me around the pubs and working men’s clubs with the electric piano he’d saved up for.
Who or what have been the most important influences on your musical life and career?
Apart from my father, a brilliant piano player called Johnny Miller. Johnny was the first pianist I sang with. He was part of the early eighties comedy/cabaret scene. Much later, the US jazz singer, Mark Murphy, Ronnie Scott himself, and singer Claire Martin, whose professionalism I admired. She pushed me into playing ‘jazz’ piano too – an area I wasn’t hugely confident in. Musicians Joni Mitchell, Cedar Walton and Bowie are huge influences.
What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?
Keeping truthful, musically inspiring to others – and allowing my music to be a prism, through which I can view and be viewed without pretense or artifice.
Which performance/recordings are you most proud of?
I think my last two records have been the most satisfying and focussed. I always feel I’ve done my best at my Ronnie Scott’s shows. Singing ‘Somewhere’ ( from West Side Story) at the Jazz For Labour concert at The Barbican – with young genius pianist, Jamie Safir – felt right.
Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why?
I love Ronnie Scott’s. The audience are so primed for you to be your best and I love The Purcell Room too. I’m playing there in December with Claire Martin. It’s a concert hall – but intimate too.
Who are your favourite musicians?
My trio: pianist, Barry Green; bassist, Mick Hutton; drummer, Dave Ohm. I admire singer, Kurt Elling ( we’re working together early 2019 in NYC) I also love Bill Evans, Miles, Wayne Shorter, Jacquline Du Pré, Jaco Pastorius…
What is your most memorable concert experience?
‘100 Years Of British Song’ which I wrote, performed and directed at Queen Elizabeth Hall. It celebrated songwriting. Julian Clary sang ‘Space Oddity’.
As a musician, what is your definition of success?
To inspire, upset, amuse, collaborate, define, create, comfort, be playful, disciplined – and leave an audience feeling something – anything, they may not have felt before.
What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?
Listen to everything. Sharpen your scissors. Be truthful and mean it.
Where would you like to be in 10 years’ time?
Folkestone, London and San Francisco.
What is your present state of mind?
Hopeful for greater empathy, equality, inclusion and excited to be touring ‘Shine Sister Shine’, my new double album!
Ian Shaw’s brand-new album, ‘Shine Sister Shine’, was released on 29th June 2018 on the Jazz Village label. Inspired by many of the extraordinary women he has encountered both during his sparkling musical career and through his dedicated humanitarian work with refugees, ‘Shine Sister Shine’ is Shaw’s personal and timely tribute to women the world over and their remarkable resilience and strength.