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Sarah Jane Morris with her long term musical collaborator Tony Rémy. Photograph by Sarah Leigh Lewis.

Sarah Jane Morris celebrates Sisterhood

This Saturday, to mark International Women’s Day, Hastings-based singer Sarah Jane Morris is launching a very special album with a concert at London’s Alexandra Palace. Erica Smith caught up with her to find out about the Sisterhood project which is coming to fruition after four years.

We are blessed to have some incredible women living and working in our town. Singer Sarah Jane Morris is one of these, proud to run her international career from her home in Hastings. This Sunday, at a poetry event in Christ Church Hall, I was privileged to hear her perform an unaccompanied rap version of the first track on her new album – a tribute to Bessie Smith. Afterwards, I met up with Sarah Jane to find out more about what drove her to write praise songs to twelve influential female singers.

The lockdown years were particularly challenging for musicians and performers, with all gigs cancelled and musical collaboration and recording studios suddenly out-of-bounds. Sarah Jane Morris and her partner, the artist Mark Pulsford, found themselves facing each other over a coffee table piled with books and decided to spend lockdown reading their way into the lives of their musical heroines.

The pile of musical biographies and autobiographies on Sarah and Mark’s coffee table was the starting point for The Sisterhood project.

Sarah Jane says, “We started to read every autobiography and biography we could get our hands on. I had an initial long-list of about 50 inspirational female singers, and that was slowly honed down to ten: Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, Miriam Makeba, Aretha Franklin, Janis Joplin, Joni Mitchell, Patti Smith, Rickie Lee Jones and Annie Lennox. Later, Kate Bush and Sinéad O’Connor were added to make a dozen.”

“I turned these amazing women’s life stories into lyrics and then worked with my long-time musical collaborator, Tony Rémy to write music in the genre of each of the twelve artists.”

Two singles from the album have already been released – the title track, a tribute to Aretha Franklin, and Jazz Side of the Road, Morris’ tribute to Rickie Lee Jones. The video features black-and-white photographs of road-side America taken by her brother Rod Morris.

The full album will be released on International Women’s Day on 8 March, followed by the debut performance on Saturday 9 March. The concert brings together a twelve-piece band of world-class musicians and a 40-voice masterclass choir. Two coachloads of fans are travelling up to Alexandra Palace from Hastings on Saturday afternoon.

Hear Sarah Jane across the airwaves

Listen out for interviews with Sarah Jane Morris this week on Resonance FM, BBC London and Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour. She will also feature on Ian McMillan’s The Verb on Radio 3 at 10pm this Friday.

You can buy tickets for the Alexandra Palace gig this Saturday by following this link. If you want the last spot on the coach, please email Fallen Angel to book it.

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Posted 21:57 Sunday, Mar 3, 2024 In: Music & Sound

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