Vocalist, violinist, songwriter/composer and improviser Alice Zawadzki is a “distinctive and individual presence” on the creative music scene in London and beyond. Her music draws together influences from her early exposure to New Orleans soul and gospel, a classical training and an exploration of world and improvised music, with storytelling always at the heart of her performances and compositions.
Alice’s journey into jazz started at age twelve after hearing New Orleans vocalist Lillian Boutté, who was to later become her mentor and took her on tour as a backing vocalist by the time she was 15. Since then, she has played at most of the major venues and festivals in the UK, with her own band and as a collaborator in some of the UK’s brightest creative ensembles working in new & improvised music.
A recent graduate from the Royal Academy of Music where she gained an MA in jazz voice and composition, she also holds a BMus (hons) from the Royal Northern College of Music as a violinist. She has won scholarships from Musicians Benevolent Fund, The Hilda Collens Award and was granted the Emerging Artists Residency at Cove Park funded by the Scottish Arts Council and the Jerwood Foundation. During these years she studied with Norma Winstone, Nia Lynn, Pete Churchill, Steven Wilkie and many other inspiring and world class musicians and practitioners.
Alice’s debut album China Lane is released on Whirlwind Recordings (June 16th 2014) and features a who’s who of contemporary guiding lights from the European scene in guitarist Alex Roth, bassist Andreas Lang, Hammond organ from Kit Downes, and drummer Jon Scott. Guests include the unique and virtuosic cellist Shirley Smart, contributions from superb vocalists Emilia Mårtensson and Fini Bearman, and a sextet of string players on the title track; Eva Thorarinsdottir, Steven Proctor, Lucy Nolan, Tanah Stevens, Peggy Nolan and Rosemary Toll. It encompasses rich influences from ancient Sephardic songs about loss, exodus and prejudice, to her own modern fairy tales full of mischief, whimsy, obsession and magic, folk tales about young love inspired by Bartok and bewitching, intoxicated heavy night time beats. With the exception of some backing vocal overdubs, the entire album was recorded live in the same room by talented engineer Les Mommsen (and Ben Cottrell for the title track) allowing the spirit of friendship, spontaneity, and warmth into the recording.
Alice’s diverse background and striking ability to perform across genres while retaining her own intelligent and expressive musical style give her a unique accessibility. She contributes to several acclaimed bands, including The Moss Project featuring guitarist Moss Freed, bassist Ruth Goller, drummer Marek Dorcik and saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings; the group Nightjar performs songs written by saxophonist/electronicist Joe Wright, drummer James Maddren and bassist Jeff Spencer; and Sefiroth is a ten-piece electro-acoustic group that plays modern interpretations of ancient Sephardic songs. With award-winning pianist Dan Whieldon, Alice has been playing in a duo for almost a decade.
Her music has been played on radio including Jazz FM (Chris Philips’ Blueprint show) and BBC Radio 3 (Jez Nelson’s Jazz on 3 show), who made China Lane their album of the week. Her voice can also be heard on several film and television scores, including Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror and on Disney Nature’s major motion picture African Cats, where Alice sings the role of Sita the Cheetah, composed by Nicholas Hooper. When not performing, Alice has become a sought after vocal tutor, and has given vocal workshops and masterclasses for the Royal Northern College of Music, Aim Higher, the government scheme Gifted+Talented, Salford University, Engines Orchestra, and currently has a small number of private students as schedules permit. She delivers workshops and interactive performances for Live Music Now, who are passionate about the transformative and uplifting possibilities of bringing live music to people whose access is limited.