WHAT IT FEELS LIKE TO …

The Herald Magazine - - CONTENTS - JILL BROWN, SINGER-SONG­WRITER Visit jill­brown­mu­sic.co.uk

IHAVE sung for as long as I can re­mem­ber – to my­self, to my pets and now in pub­lic. I was a shy child. Early re­port cards al­ways men­tioned that I must try to talk more, not an ac­cu­sa­tion lev­elled at me these days.

I come from a long line of mu­si­cians and ev­ery­one was ex­pected to “do a turn” at par­ties: I avoided this at all costs. A flautist from the age of nine, I didn’t rel­ish the prospect of play­ing in front of peo­ple, al­though I did like mak­ing up Christ­mas pro­grammes where my sis­ter and I were on the bill to­gether. Songs from the mu­si­cal South Pa­cific were par­tic­u­lar favourites. As well as mu­sic I have al­ways loved English and in sec­ondary school I de­cided I wanted to read the news. Jour­nal­ism was an ob­vi­ous choice but not per­haps tele­vi­sion jour­nal­ism. In this I sur­prised even my­self. I left Glas­gow Univer­sity with an MA in English lan­guage and lit­er­a­ture and got a job at STV fairly quickly. I took a copy of The Her­ald to the in­ter­view and pe­rused it while wait­ing, think­ing this would im­press them. Only later did I dis­cover I had newsprint smeared over my face the whole time, in­clud­ing dur­ing my tour around the news­room. Still, I got the job. I spent six years at STV, start­ing at the bot­tom and go­ing on to present and re­port for Scot­land To­day as well as the so­cial af­fairs, health and life­style se­ries Scot­tish Ac­tion. How­ever, I achieved my goal only to find I wasn’t happy. I was al­ways try­ing to be­have the way I thought a new­shound should. Tele­vi­sion is, of course, a vis­ual medium, and I be­came ob­sessed with my weight, my hair, all the wrong things.

All the same, de­cid­ing to leave STV wasn’t easy. I went to work for Deaf­blind Scot­land, han­dling the char­ity’s PR. Al­though I en­joyed it I knew I wasn’t there long term. So af­ter two years I set up my own PR con­sul­tancy, which I still run to­day, and this gave me the free­dom and flex­i­bil­ity to pur­sue my dream – be­com­ing a singer-song­writer.

Al­though I was writ­ing songs, I had lit­tle to say, which changed when my mar­riage broke down. Mu­si­cal ex­pres­sion came nat­u­rally and the melodies and lyrics re­ally be­gan. Since then it’s been an in­ter­est­ing jour­ney.

I sought out gigs in places I thought no­body else would want to play, like Bar­lin­nie Prison, where I re­hearsed and per­formed with the pris­on­ers for the first half and brought on my own

band for the sec­ond. I love play­ing in the jail and hope to go back soon.

The other week I played the King Tut’s stage at C2C, the country mu­sic fes­ti­val in the Clyde Au­di­to­rium. See­ing the huge US stars with their en­tourages was a sight to be­hold.

To­mor­row night I play a gig at King Tut’s at an event I cre­ated. Called Soul Food, you pay for your own ticket and buy an­other for some­one who can’t af­ford it. Three char­i­ties will dis­trib­ute tick­ets to the peo­ple they sup­port – St Rol­lox Com­mu­nity Out­reach, Glas­gow City Mis­sion and Glas­gow Women’s Aid.

PHO­TO­GRAPH: MARTIN SHIELDS

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