We caught up with the vivacious and supremely talented Georgina Jackson ahead of her performance at the Forge, Camden as part of the girls are Summer Sessions to chat about making people happy and eating carrots…
You were trained as a trumpeter and then moved over to singing, how did that come about?
I played trumpet from the age of 8 but when I was college, studying trumpet, they were putting on a kind of function for the chancellor and they wanted a band. Someone remembered that I sang and so I went along and did a few numbers. People said I should do more of it, and it just happened gradually like that really. It’s always difficult to believe that people like it though. When you spend so long going ‘I wonder if I can have a go at singing’ and it’s always a surprise when people buy tickets to hear you.
It’s no surprise to us. You grew up playing trumpet in big bands – how did you find that?
I was stood at the back doing the most un-woman like job of playing lead trumpet in the section. That’s the one with the high notes and that has always been a very very male dominated job. That was the most unfeminine role I could have chosen really. That was massively about testosterone and blowing and you have to have a great deal of confidence to do that because if you go wrong everyone can hear it. If you miss a note, it sticks out like a sore thumb. I’ve always been attracted to that kind of adrenaline I suppose.
It was unusual when I was 15 or 16 and a lot of people would say, ‘wow’ and worry, saying it doesn’t look right a girl doing that – because I blow my cheeks out. They would worry about whether it was physically OK for me to do that. But I don’t think I’ve come to much harm – I don’t have saggy cheeks.
Did you ever feel you had to prove yourself?
At certain times yes. I’d turn up for a gig and the bandleader wouldn’t know what to do and stick me on the end of the section. But then again I do think I have had a lot of attention from being a girl – a lot of people remember me for it, which is nice. So you do get more attention. I think there’s been the odd job I’ve not got, because of accommodation, booking rooms etc, but practical things of running bands – they don’t want girls in them, but it’s difficult to prove. People who fix a lot of shows have been known to say in private that booking women is a problem because they might get pregnant or their children might be ill etc. I’m not saying it’s all against women, but I think it’s not as even as in other professions. I think it’s what you make of it. All the men I have worked with have been absolutely brilliant.
What can we expect tonight at the Forge?
Lots – from early swing to taking 70’s tunes and jazzing them up I really want it to be entertaining evening. I like it to have all the emotions, sad, exciting a bit of elation a bit of nostalgia. I like to change the mood quite a lot – because at the end of the day our job is to entertain the people who have paid to come and watch. It’s about making them happy really. A lot of people think it’s really important to understand the music and the intricacies, well I don’t think so. I don’t want to go out to a restaurant and eat a meal and spend ages saying ‘gosh this chef is so clever he must have spent ages making these carrots’, do you know what I mean? But he does, but it’s the way it comes across it can be clever and rubbish or it can be clever and brilliant or it can be simple and rubbish or simple and brilliant.
I am so lucky, I get to sing beautiful songs with beautiful people and I am so fortunate. And the important thing is to not let the business side of it affect the music on stage. There, you’re making music and that’s a beautiful thing – or should be! So you can’t let the fact that you got stuck on the motorway or that you probably aren’t going to take home much money from it, get in the way of it because we are really privileged to be able to play lovely music and give people a good time. The best gig I’ve done recently was singing ‘When I fall in love’ to a couple’s 60th wedding anniversary. I know it sounds cheesy but stuff like that really does make it all worthwhile.
We highly recommend you catch Georgina at the Forge this evening, tickets and further info available here.