JESS GLYNNE CHART TOP­PER

Pop sen­sa­tion Jess Glynne ex­plains how be­ing a fam­ily girl helps her keep fame in per­spec­tive

The Jewish Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - BY PAUL LESTER

IN HER de­scrip­tion, Jess Glynne has ex­pe­ri­enced a “whirl­wind” of a year. Twelve months ago, she was still work­ing as part of the brand man­age­ment team for a com­pany deal­ing in the im­port­ing and ex­port­ing of al­co­hol. Then, last Au­gust, she handed in her no­tice, signed to the pres­ti­gious At­lantic la­bel and be­gan re­leas­ing records. Since Jan­uary, she has sung on two num­ber ones. She was the fea­tured artist with soul­ful vo­cals on the ex­u­ber­ant, in­fec­tious pop-dance track Rather Be by Clean Ban­dit — the fastest-sell­ing sin­gle of the year so far — and on Route 94’s My Love. Now she has a top 10 hit with her own de­but solo sin­gle, Right Here.

As a re­sult, and much to her de­light, she has be­come Twit­ter and Face­book friends with Lily Allen, Emeli Sandé and Sam Smith. And she has be­gun record­ing her first al­bum with some of the most gar­landed mu­sic pro­duc­ers of the day. What could top that? Well, for her grandma at least, Glynne be­ing in­ter­viewed by the JC. “It’s a big thing for my nan, me be­ing in the JC,” says the 24-year-old north Lon­doner. “I think she might cry.”

Fam­ily is very im­por­tant to Glynne. She still lives at home with her par­ents in Muswell Hill, where she likes to pop into the lo­cal Londis for a Tof­fee Crisp. In­deed, on the day she found out she was num­ber one with Rather Be, she was get­ting told off by her mum. “She was like, ‘Jess, tidy your room, the cleaner’s com­ing’!” Did she not re­mind her mum that she was a pop star now and didn’t need to? “I’d never say that, ever,” she replies, mor­ti­fied. “I’m re­ally not like that.”

Un­like that other north Lon­don Jewish girl with the pow­er­house vo­cals, Amy Wine­house, Glynne doesn’t seem re­motely tor­tured or trou­bled. Gar­ru­lous, yes. When asked what she thinks so ap­peals about her that peo­ple seem to rush to the shops ev­ery time she re­leases a record, she sug­gests: “I think peo­ple take a lik­ing to a voice or some­thing that makes them smile and feel good about them­selves.”

So she has the com­mon touch? “Well, I’m a very so­cia­ble per­son,” she con­sid­ers. She gets it from her dad. “He’s a re­ally pos­i­tive per­son, and he has al­ways drilled that into me and my sis­ter. I live by that. He loves talk­ing and he’s crazy. I’m quite like him.”

Her fa­ther owns a high­end es­tate agents in cen­tral Lon­don. Her mother used to work, co­in­ci­den­tally, for At­lantic, in artist and reper­toire, over­see­ing the devel­op­ment of groups in­clud­ing The Rolling Stones.

If her sur­name does not sound par­tic­u­larly Jewish, that’s be­cause her grand­fa­ther changed it from Gold­stein. Her ma­ter­nal grand­mother also in­sti­gated a fam­ily change of name.

“My nan re­fused to marry my grand­dad if he kept his name, which was Podol­ski,” she laughs. “She hated it. So she made him change it to In­gram, which was the name of a tooth­paste.”

Glynne was born in the Royal Free in Hamp­stead, grew up in Muswell Hill and at­tended cheder at Wood­side Park Syn­a­gogue un­til she started mis­be­hav­ing was taken out by her par­ents. “I was too much of a pain,” she re­calls.

These days, she cel­e­brates the main Jewish fes­ti­vals and regrets not hav­ing that many Jewish friends as a child, al­though she largely en­joyed her school­days at For­tismere, which was also at­tended by Ray and Dave Davies of The Kinks, Rod Ste­wart and, more re­cently, by BBC Sound of 2012 win­ner Michael Ki­wanuka and for­mer Blue Peter pre­sen­ter Joel De­fries, one of her best friends.

Not that the school ex­actly en­cour­aged her mu­si­cal abil­i­ties. At one tal­ent show, she per­formed a ver­sion of Mariah Carey’s Hero but she reg­u­larly failed to pass auditions and felt ig­nored by mu­sic teach­ers.

“I took a back seat be­cause I didn’t feel con­fi­dent. It was such a mu­si­cal school but they weren’t that in­ter­ested in me and didn’t give me that many op­por­tu­ni­ties, maybe be­cause I didn’t play an in­stru­ment. I au­di­tioned for loads of shows but I never seemed to get any.”

Glynne left school in 2008 after tak­ing her A-lev­els, but her sense of cau­tion fol­low­ing those re­jec­tions, plus an in­nate work ethic in­cul­cated by her par­ents, meant that she al­ways held down jobs, even while she pur­sued her dream of a mu­si­cal ca­reer.

“I wasn’t that aca­demic but I al­ways made sure I was earn­ing money. I never wanted to put all my eggs in one bas­ket. Even when I started do­ing mu­sic my par­ents were like, ‘You need to work, you can’t just live off mu­sic’. I al­ways knew that. So I worked un­til I knew I was go­ing to be fi­nan­cially okay.”

She was em­ployed in a hair­dresser, a bou­tique, even a fit­ness cen­tre. Then, after trav­el­ling around Asia, Aus­tralia and South Amer­ica with a friend, she found a job with a man­age­ment com­pany, where she picked up ev­ery­thing she needed to know about the mu­sic busi­ness — PR, tour­ing, con­tracts. But mainly she learned that she wanted to be the artist, not some­one work­ing for the artist. So she started writ­ing songs about her “life and ex­pe­ri­ences”, in­spired by US R&B mav­er­ick Lau­ryn Hill, and “got con­nected”, meet­ing pro­duc­ers and in­dus­try types.

She had a few “knock-backs”, as she puts it, but they just made her try harder. Even­tu­ally, she hooked up with the pro­duc­ers who would give her the right sound — clas­si­cally soul­ful but with a mod­ern ur­ban tinge — to match her songs. As she makes the tran­si­tion from fea­tured singer on other peo­ple’s tracks to solo artist, Glynne will em­bark on her first solo tour in the au­tumn. Will she be­have on the road?

“I’m a good girl and I have a very good Jewish fam­ily who brought me up very well,” she re­flects. After work­ing for an al­co­hol com­pany, get­ting drunk is the last thing on her mind. “That job put me off al­co­hol com­pletely. I used to have to go out a lot at night and I’d have to stand in places till 2am while do­ing pro­mo­tion. I’d see peo­ple so drunk and it’s so ugly. It’s not healthy, not at­trac­tive and not cool. I know ex­actly when to call it a day. My nan tells me to eat her fish balls and not drink al­co­hol. I’d rather have the fish balls.

Jess Glynne’s sin­gle ‘Right Here’ is out now; her tour opens in Sh­effield in Oc­to­ber

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