Award Winning Singer Song Writer

About Cheryl

cherylWhen Cheryl was 5 years old, her parents took her to The London Palladium to see Cinderella. The Director was looking for children from the audience to appear as part of the Pantomime. Cheryl flew to the queue, only to be told she wasn't the type of child they were looking for. 'Why?' she asked. 'Too chubby!' she heard the assistant mumble 'I promise I won't eat for a fortnight and I can sing, listen ' They giggled and let her through.

She remembers standing on the stage at The London Palladium, with the hot lights so bright that she could not see the audience, but she could sense them there; their excitement, their joy. She turned to look at Olivia Newton John, who was being changed side of stage for the Ballroom Scene.

'It was like the world had shifted into slow motion. I remember the absolute wonderment and can see the vision as clearly now as I did that day. Everyone was running around doing Olivia's hair, her dress, and she stood, calm and serene. Ronnie Corbett, Buttons, called her on and it seemed to me that she glided, as if on heavenly angel wheels. I could sense the chorus of in-taken breaths, I felt almost outside of myself, and in that moment, I knew what I had been put on the planet to do.'

But growing up on a council estate in a middle class area was fraught with limited expectations and stereotypes.

Her primary school teachers did not share her enthusiasm. Told she was not quite right to play Mary in the nativity, she threw herself into the role of donkey, making the most glorious head mask.

But Mary struggled with remembering her words, as did Joseph and the shepherd, and Cheryl would chip in, prompting them. The teacher called her to one side.' Oh no!' she thought, but the teacher asked her to recite the nativity script. She did and was the school's first donkey narrator. She remembers with affection how she was promoted overnight from the silent donkey to the linch pin.

'I learnt that hard work and being in the right place at the right time, meant that you should never give up hope of being noticed!' She joined the School Choir and undeterred, Cheryl would drag her parents off to Talent Contests on the Pier during Family Holidays, winning competitions at Holiday Camps.

In Junior School she had the opportunity of learning guitar but her parents couldn't afford to buy her an instrument. Her teacher lent her a guitar and her Mum saved the child benefit so that eventually she had her first set of strings.

At this time, she also concentrated on her writing, putting together poetry books and writing short stories which she would read to her family and friends. Then one dowdy Christmas, she snook upstairs to write a poem to cheer everyone up.

'I'm not sure what possessed me to do it, but I pulled my old guitar out from behind the wardrobe, dusted it off, and started strumming the rusty strings. A tune came in my head and I fitted my poem around the tune. I ran downstairs to sing it to the family who were in fits of laughter. The more they smiled, the longer the song got and I just made it up as I went along. This was the start of song writing for me.'

She carried on writing her own material and joined her first band at 13 singing backing vocals for some local lads. From this she was approached by a DJ who was putting a band together and was soon rehearsing. By 16 she was a gigging singer but still not brave enough to sing her self penned songs to anyone outside her circle.

She also joined an amateur dramatics society at her church, St. Mary's Players and took the lead role for Pantomimes and Musicals. At school, she solo sang in the choir and had starring roles as part of in- house and whole school productions.

At 19 whilst training as a Learning Disability Nurse, she wrote her first script and put together an age-appropriate production and continued to write songs, although gigging took a back seat until she qualified and was working as a Senior Sensory Research Nurse, moving to Glamorgan, South Wales.

She put an advert in a local Music Shop window and Bridgend based band Clouds Over Egypt contacted her for an audition. She joined the band as lead singer and started gigging to rave reviews across Cardiff and South Wales. The band stayed together for many years, with song writing team Jeff Beer and Cheryl working together even after the band split up, as a duo Blue China.

'Jeff and I were getting married and the band split up. We had been a shared enterprise so all the gear had been bought between us. Suddenly we had no PA and a string of gigs, so we cut our wedding budget to a minimum and used the money to invest in some great gear. Blue China toured the pub and club circuit for 3 years and then Jeff decided he didn't want to tour anymore.

By now Cheryl had completed a first degree in Behavioral Sciences at the Polytechnic of Wales where her dissertation; An Ethnography of Youth Culture in the Rhondda Valley' won her an Outstanding Achievement & Student of the Year Award, a post graduate in Careers Guidance & Education and a Masters Degree in Social Sciences specialising in Women's Studies. She worked for 4 years at Cardiff Careers whilst gigging part time.

From here, she secured a post with Mencap as a Community Development Manager, being short listed for a Gold Award and quickly became Director of the Welsh Initiative for Supported Employment where she set up an integrated Arts Gallery in Neath amongst many other community based projects.

'I remember being in my late 20's, coming out of a management and contract meeting with accountants securing large scale funding for the charity, and I thought to myself why am I able to do these amazing things for the project and yet I can't visualise myself as a full time singer/songwriter?'

During this time, a friend from Cheryl's musical past had opened a recording studio in London and invited her to come and record some of her songs. The mixing and additional tracks were recorded at the Big Noise in Cardiff with Greg Haver.

From this release things changed for Cheryl,. She was offered a publishing contract for Television and decided to use the money from this to set herself up full time in the music business. She took a sabbatical from her Directorship and set about putting together a festival tour.

Her first booking was at Pontardawe Festival via Meltdown performing her self penned songs with guitarist Andrew Roberts. She used this booking to approach other Welsh Festivals.

'I remember the Arts Development Officer for Porthcawl meeting me at the festival gate and introducing me to the Event Organiser. I managed to blag a spot on the main stage playing 4 songs to open the festival. When I came off, the organiser and the DJ were in deep and loud discussion. He wanted to know why the DJ was not talking to the audience. 'I can do that if you like?' I said and before I knew it I was presenting at the festival. The organiser invited me to stay and I said I would, as long as I could play before the main act when the site would be packed.'

This led to Cheryl touring and playing over 40 festivals over the next 2 Summers, many TV and Radio interviews and support slots with the people who had previously been in her record collection: Lonnie Donnegan, Van Morrison, Bob Geldfof, David Gray, Glen Tilbrook, Leo Sayer and many more.

Alongside this, Cheryl organised 2 Women's Voices Events at Clwb Ifor Bach where up and coming musicians, such as Amy Wadge, performed alongside signed acts, such as Pooka, organised safe transport and woman friendly rehearsals at her home studio, where Jeff still engineers for her to this day.

Things were flying, Cheryl toured furiously, her first album Just Another Judas was Album of the Month, her 2nd release Little Fish was an HMV Album of the month. She was a finalist for Welsh Woman of the Year for her contribution to Culture & Acoustic Artist of the Year, as well as finalist for The Welsh Music Awards.

As well as being a working singer/songwriter composing and recording for many different clients, she has toured Art Centres and Acoustic Venues throughout the UK and worked with street children in India. In addition she has been patron of a Women's Dance and Music Academy in Africa.

Said to be 'The thinking person's singer/songwriter' 'Her albums would not be out of place alongside your Alanis Morisette or Joni Mitchel.'