Star Staff: Lauren Kinsella

Award-winning performer and composer, and Jazzlines Fellow

Lauren Kinsella is a vocalist and composer based in London, and teaches on undergraduate jazz voice modules at Leeds College of Music. Kinsella has won several awards, has composed with musicians, actors and dancers, and performs regularly with five different groups.  In 2014 - 2015 she has been chosen as a Jazzlines Fellow supported by the Jerwood Foundation, alongside Chris Mapp and Yaz Ahmed.
What was your earliest musical experience?

I used to love going to a dance class when I was little. Towards the end of every class my teacher played a few songs (on tape!) that we could dance to and make up our own moves – this was probably my first taste of improvisation and I loved it. This is one of my earliest musical experiences – being able to move and respond to sound in my own way but with others.
Who/what motivated you to have a career in music?

When I was in school I had some amazing music and singing teachers that really helped me. I sang and performed a lot of classical music – Haydn, Handel, Britton in choirs and as a soloist. It was in school that I learned about vocal technique through this kind of repertoire. 
But, then I discovered jazz standards and Sarah Vaughan and that was that! I was so blown away by her voice as a complete instrument. While studying jazz, I had some wonderful teachers too who believed in me and gave me confidence in my ability. 
How did your career develop?

I was fortunate to study in places like Dublin, Switzerland, Sweden and London through various courses and some scholarships along the way. Just like most musicians, I met players who really had an influence on my playing and we developed together. My career has developed by playing gigs, by sitting in a room and making sense / nonsense of our instruments and what we think music / sound / improvisation means to us, by making albums and the recording process itself – all of these things I suppose.
What is the best thing to have happened in your career to date?

Hmm… lots of nice things really – there isn’t one defining moment. Winning the Kenny Wheeler Prize in 2013 made me smile. Playing in the Albert Hall the day that Seamus Heaney died last year and performing an improvisation based on his wonderful poem ‘Valediction’ – that was a special gig too, with Blue-Eyed Hawk. I am a Birmingham Jazzlines fellow this and next year which I am also excited about! 
How would you describe your biggest challenge in your role?

For me, the biggest challenge is the amount of roles that you need to be good at and how to juggle them all at the same time. Booking gigs, rehearsing, performing, composing, applying for funding, working with the media for reviews and critique on your work etc, teaching, giving workshops, practicing – the list is endless!
What attracted you to coming to work at LCoM?

I’m delighted to be part of the teaching staff at Leeds College of music. I love teaching and part of what attracted me to coming to work at LCoM was being able to teach students who really love jazz and improvisation at third level and who want to learn as much as they can while at college.
Who/what would be your dream to work with?

Lots of people… Joachim Rückert, Craig Taborn, Evan Parker.
What has been your greatest achievement?

Realising that sometimes it’s a challenge to take the road less traveled but it’s worth it. To be able to sing and perform for audiences interested in new music is a great gift.
Who is your greatest inspiration and why?

I have been fortunate to have some wonderful mentors along my musical path who have pushed me in the right direction and supported me when I needed it. My family and friends are also AMAZING and I’d definitely be lost without their love.
Where would you like to be in five years? 

Doing what I am doing now and still having fun; making albums with amazing musicians on different labels, getting the opportunity to tour and present work to new audiences, composing and improvising new material, teaching and building on my pedagogical skills and to keep on learning about my craft.
Read more about Lauren's work on her website.

Listen to her work, and collaborations here.

Some of her work is on YouTube too...


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"...sometimes it’s a challenge to take the road less traveled but it’s worth it. To be able to sing and perform for audiences interested in new music is a great gift."

Lauren Kinsella, Jazz Voice Tutor

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