As a child, growing up on a farm, with three older brothers, Purdy (AKA Rebecca Poole) admits she was given to escaping, with a lot of fanciful, romantic dreams.
“There was not much to do, other than avoid my brothers’ teasing,” she says, “I discovered song-writing when I was 11 years old, because I enjoyed writing poetry. I’ve always had a fascination with matters of the heart and my songs reflect that. I used to be shy about singing, and then, crazily, I joined a jazz band. It was a good learning curve for me; I found my voice.”
And what a voice! Purdy’s songs may tell tales of triumph in love and heartbreak, but her delivery is certainly not schmaltzy, saccharine wallow. Her vocals are deep, warm, and full of purpose. “I’ve not had much vocal coaching. It must be the red wine, whiskey and occasional cigars,” she jokes.
Check out her debut album, Diamond In The Dust. Produced by Grammy award-winning producer Andy Wright, online at www.purdymusic.co.uk. It was her vocal uniqueness that caught the imagination of boogie-woogie legend Jools Holland who invited her to tour as support, with the last date being at the Royal Albert Hall.
“It was nerve-wracking beforehand,” she says about the experience. “When I sing, I sing from the heart. When I walked on stage at the Royal Albert, my heart was floating to the rafters. It was a dream come true. I felt incredibly privileged. My dream has never been to be famous, it’s been to do what I love.”
When I ask about her stage name “Purdy” she explains: “When I was starting my career in singing, I met Alan McGee, manager of Oasis, for advice. He told me two things: ‘jazz is not cool’ and to change my name. I didn’t listen to his musical tastes, but I did change my name. I was inspired by Purdy, because my brothers were in a band, at the time, with the same name, and I chose the heroine’s name. Having that pseudonym has been a good friend; I have metaphorically hidden behind her. She allows me to reveal my heart on stage.”
Expect a number of Purdy’s original timeless compositions, along with some of the standards that have inspired her – made famous by those she calls ’the Golden Girls’ (the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Julie London and Peggy Lee).
Purdy performs on Wednesday, 4th July, at 606 Club, 90 Lots Road, Chelsea, SW10 0QD; 020 7352 5953 or www.606club.co.uk. She also one of the stars at Henley Festival, 11th-15th July, which Round & About is proud to sponsor. Visit www.henley-festival.co.uk