MUSIC PREVIEW: Teenage singers to grace The Black Swan’s Annexe

ACOUSTIC NIGHT: Kirton-born pop singer-songwriter Phoebe Ophelia is on the bill for a night of music at The Black Swan's Annexe venue in New Road, Spalding, on Friday, April 7, at 8.30pm.  Photo supplied.
ACOUSTIC NIGHT: Kirton-born pop singer-songwriter Phoebe Ophelia is on the bill for a night of music at The Black Swan's Annexe venue in New Road, Spalding, on Friday, April 7, at 8.30pm. Photo supplied.
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ACOUSTIC NIGHT: Tommy Loose’s “Everybody’s Afraid” tour, with guests Phoebe Ophelia and Alisha Vickers, The Annexe, The Black Swan, New Road, Spalding, Friday, April 7, 8.30pm.

An emerging singer-songwriter from Kirton and a duo regularly seen on the Yorkshire music scene are coming to Spalding next week.

Phoebe Ophelia (18) and Alisha Vickers (19) are both supporting Surfleet Seas End singer-guitarist Tommy Loose at The Annexe inside The Black Swan, New Road, on Friday, April 7, at 8.30pm.

Having started singing lessons aged six, Phoebe developed her music experience at Thomas Middlecott Academy, Kirton, before moving to Boston High School where she came under the guidance of music teacher Samantha Leake.

Phoebe said: “I started singing lessons in Boston with a lady called Elizabeth Sommerfield who has basically shaped me and pushed me to be the vocalist I am today.

“When I started Thomas Middlecott Academy, aged 11, I joined the school choir and performed in every school concert I could.

EVERYBODY'S AFRAID TOUR: Rotherham-based singer Alisha Vickers with guitarist Josh Ellinor.  Photo by Frank Roper Photography.

EVERYBODY'S AFRAID TOUR: Rotherham-based singer Alisha Vickers with guitarist Josh Ellinor. Photo by Frank Roper Photography.

“Thomas Middlecott Academy really helped me in the early stages of my career.

“My first ever gig outside of school was at Brennan’s Bar in Spalding when I was 12 and, a year later, I played at The Black Swan alongside Kamikaze Hotshot and Verax.

“I then moved to Boston High School Sixth Form and really felt myself starting to progress as a vocalist and a songwriter.

“My music teacher, Samantha Leake, was particularly helpful in pushing me to write music and she encouraged me to go to London and pursue my dream of becoming a professional musician.”

I haven’t performed at the same gigs as Tommy Loose or Alisha Vickers before so I’m looking forward to seeing them both perform.

Phoebe Ophelia (18), of Kirton and The British & Irish Modern Music Institute, London

To improve her chances of success, Phoebe joined the Boston Youth Jazz Orchestra for two years and toured Barcelona before performing as a vocalist at the Royal Albert Hall in London.

She said: “I’m now living in London while studying for a degree in vocals at the British and Irish Modern Music Institute.

“I’ve been heavily influenced by artists such as Adele, Paloma Faith, Ed Sheeran, The Dixie Chicks and Sir Elton John, all of whom have been a massive influence on the way I write lyrics.

“I would say my genre is as a pop singer-songwriter and pop and when I received a message from Gary Trueman asking if I’d be interested in performing at The Black Swan, I immediately said ‘yes’.

“I already knew Gary from a few years earlier when he was performing at The Vista and I’d also met Tommy Loose briefly a few times as well, gigging at a few of the same venues.

“But I haven’t performed at the same gigs as Tommy or Alisha Vickers before so I’m looking forward to seeing them both perform.”

Phoebe may be familiar to people who attended FramFest last June where she performed alongside Sniffs, The Ultraviolet, Amazing Armaliloes, Vigilantes, Status Quote and Phatt Knappii.

She said: “I have played at FramFest for the last three years and it’s an amazing local festival.

“Last year’s event was a particularly memorable one for me as I performed as part of a girl group called ‘Voice It’.

“It was a beautiful day and we started to sing ‘Let the Sun Shine’ (by Labrinth) only for the skies to open up and the rain to come pouring down .

“Even though it was really ironic, my ultimate ambition is to have my music heard and related to by thousands, maybe even millions of people.

“However, right now my goal is to release an EP (extended play) and start gigging around London more.”

Alisha, from Rotherham in South Yorkshire, has made her name on the Leeds and Sheffield music scenes where she is accompanied by guitarist Josh Ellinor.

She said: “I got a message from Gary Trueman, who I met at a gig in Barnsley, asking if I’d be interested in playing with Tommy Loose.

“I was really excited as I’d never played in Spalding before and I was keen to expand my music onto a different audience as I’m so used to playing in the Leeds or Sheffield areas.

“My music in Leeds has been going well and, at the moment, I’m working on getting a band together to create more opportunities for myself and Josh.”

Alisha herself, like Phoebe, broke into singing by joining a school choir, “at this point not realizing I could sing” she explained.

“It was my music teacher who first got me into music, giving me my first solo which was ‘Stand By Me’ by Ben E. King,” Alisha said.

“From this I then began singing lessons at 13 when my teacher really inspired me to take my music further.

“I was influenced by many teachers at Leeds College of Music where my ensemble teacher really inspired me to push myself, providing me with challenging songs to perform.

“The first song I was given was ‘Tragic Kingdom’ by No Doubt which took me ages to get right.

“Additionally, my singing teacher at university really helped me to experiment with my voice and find my own style.”

Alisha admitted to borrowing influences from artists such as Kate Bush, Lana Del Rey and Tori Amos, as well as experiment with different genres and artists to “craft her own sound”.

“When I started out by playing covers at open mic nights, it was with the intention of gaining more contacts, experience and confidence,” Alisha said.

“As opportunities arrived, both myself and Josh decided to push ourselves further by writing our own music and releasing our own arrangements of covers.

“My most memorable gig was in Barnsley supporting Hands Off Gretel.

“The audience was incredible and I got so much amazing feedback from that gig, including one review which said ‘Sometimes you only need songs to be really well-sung, with a simple guitar backing, and the audience will be mesmerised’.”

Alisha and Josh are working hard together to stand out from other musicians, with a shared love for vocal experimentation and a gravitation towards experimental pop “as we love to experiment with different harmony and melody lines”, the songstress said.

She added: “I’d love to tour around the world, promoting my own original material and making a living from music while meeting new people and seeing new places.

“It’ll be very exciting to see Tommy Loose and Phoebe Ophelia play, but it would be amazing to meet new people at the gig as well.

“So music fans in Spalding should come along as, together, we have so much original material that we’d love to share with them and, hopefully, our performances will provide them with a new musical experience.”