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Graduate hits the right note as drummer for all-female jazz band


Video: Cheltenham Festival performance, Scarlett interviewed at 28 minutes in, band starts at 30 minutes in.

A University of Wolverhampton graduate is hitting all the right notes by being selected as a drummer for a new all-female Jazz band run by the prestigious Birmingham Jazzlines programme.

Picture Caption: Scarlett second from left on drums with Rise-Up

Scarlett Churchill, 22 from West Bromwich, studied for a degree in Music and graduated in 2020. She is currently studying for a Master’s degree in Music in the University’s School of Performing Arts based at the University’s Walsall Campus.

Jazzlines is a unique programme of creative jazz music and Talent Development initiatives based within Performances Birmingham Limited (PBL), the charity that runs Town Hall and Symphony Hall (THSH).

It offers performance opportunities to emerging and established contemporary jazz musicians as part of a thriving, artistically excellent programme in venues across the city and commissions cutting-edge new work, providing support to ensure future performances and a legacy for new projects.

The programme is supported by the grant made to THSH by Arts Council England under the National Portfolio Organisation scheme.

Rise–Up is the brand new, free to access, all female jazz ensemble, a project designed to take a positive step towards achieving a 50/50 gender split in the jazz sector by engaging with talented female musicians at the crucial stage in their careers by offering them high-profile mentorship from world renowned jazz musicians, giving them access to rehearsal spaces in the iconic Symphony Hall and also providing them with a platform to showcase their musical and compositional talent through concerts and access to recording studios.

Following a successful recruitment process with a panel of experts including jazz artists Trish Clowes, Alica Gardener-Trejo and Yazz Ahmed seven exciting musicians from the region were selected.

Scarlett said: “I was accepted into the Jazzlines Rise-Up ensemble after auditioning in 2020.  It’s an all-female jazz ensemble and aims to unite like-minded women in music and allow us to perform together.

“The musicians are amazingly talented and it is a privilege to be able to drum for this project.

“Performing at such a prestigious venue like the Symphony Hall is a dream, and I am excited to see what else may come from being a part of this fantastic project.

“Before University I hadn't really played Jazz before, so I am now very glad that I joined the University Jazz ensemble as it has given me the confidence and experience that I needed to join the Rise-Up project.”

Richard Glover, Reader in Music in the University’s School of Performing Arts, said: “This is a wonderful opportunity for Scarlett and I’m thrilled that her talent has been supported by Jazzlines in this way.

“To a university like Wolverhampton which has a proud record of serving its communities going back over 180 years, the issues of Equality and Diversity are of paramount importance and we are supportive of any initiatives that promote women positively in the music industry.  Our degree courses are designed to equip students with a wide range of networking and entrepreneurial skills as well as developing their musical talent and hopefully this will open doors for Scarlett as she continues to progress in her career.”

The group was the first to rehearse in the new state-of-the-art performance facilities at Symphony Hall in early February ahead of opening to the public later this year. Current government guidelines allow for the group of musicians to rehearse and perform for broadcast or recording purposes.

The ensemble is supported by Ian Reaves and the PRS Foundation, the UK’s leading funder of new music and talent development.

Anyone interested in studying in the University’s School of Performing Arts should register for one of the University’s forthcoming Virtual Open Days.



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