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Susie Kimber, Vocalist

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Vocalist Susie Kimber

Bournemouth is full of great alternative indie and folk artists. Now, say hello to one vocalist who could easily be regarded as a local soul and jazz queen…

We first came across vocalist Susie Kimber in doing a write-up for a charity event last Christmas. With so many alternative indie bands like Marble Tides and folk-oriented artists such as Mikey Ball, her repertoire in soul and jazz really made her stand out. To the point where we included her in our list of must-see live music acts. Off the back of that, we grabbed a few minutes out of Susie’s busy schedule to discover where her journey started…

ARE YOU LOCAL TO THE BOURNEMOUTH AREA?

I am now — I live in Christchurch, but I moved down from Southeast London in 2014. I first came to Dorset many years ago, staying with a friend in Wimborne. And I just fell in love. The coast and the sea — it made a massive impression on me. So, I went back to London, had children and then I came down here because I thought it might be a better lifestyle for them. Growing up with the sea and the fresh air. Less stress and hustle-and-bustle than in London.

HOW DID YOU BEGIN AS A VOCALIST?

I have come to music a lot later than I ever thought I would. When I came down here, I had an opportunity at redundancy. And at that time — late 2016 — I joined forces with a pianist friend of mine, started singing in care homes — just to get some experience. I do love singing to the care home residents; you get a sense that you’re doing something good and giving something back — it’s enjoyable.

In that short amount of time, I feel like I have accomplished a lot. Appearing at lots of fantastic venues and hotels and restaurants. Plus, some fantastic festivals; I was on the Emerging Talent stage at the Christchurch Stompin’ on the Quomps Jazz Festival last year. Although I still do love doing the care home work, I am now moving onto more, what I’d call, public gigs.

WHAT MADE YOU DISCOVER YOU WANTED TO BE A VOCALIST?

Singing is something I have always loved, and I find that it’s very healing. I lost my mum when I was very young, and I think that singing and becoming a vocalist has almost filled a void. It’s still there, but the singing helps me to feel stronger. It gives me joy to give joy. I love connecting with people, empathising with people, caring about them. And I think if I can make a difference in just a couple of songs to someone’s day – whether that’s a resident in a care home or in a stunning restaurant on the coast, that means a lot to me. It gives me value and strength.

WHERE DOES YOUR LOVE OF MUSIC COME FROM?

It stems back to when I was really quite young — five, six or seven. My father was a self-confessed frustrated amateur drummer – he had to work hard to bring up three children but would have loved to have done it more professionally if he could (and there lies a lesson in there for all of us – if you love something you have to try to find a way to do it!)

As a big music lover, my dad would put on the most amazing records, which I’d listen to. Rumours by Fleetwood Mac, for example. Also, Burt Bacharach’s catalogue, which I absolutely adore and would love to replicate at some point. Then there’s John Barry’s compositions – stunning, epic music like that. Glenn Campbell, Herb Alpert; the list goes on. And I think my dad instilled in me a passion for so many different genres. If you love music, you love all music. I also remember listening to my brother’s AC/DC records; I even saw them in concert with Highway to Hell. My passion has come from all that – the exposure to these genres quite early on in my life and just loving every type of music.

WHICH ARTISTS INSPIRE YOUR STYLE AS A VOCALIST?

As I said, I love all types of music, but I especially love anything that comes from the heart and the soul. I love soul music. Anything you can connect to; that makes you empathise with someone else. I also like music that talks about love – sounds very soppy, I know.

So, all the soul greats inspire me – Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye. And then on the other side, the jazz queens do the same – Ella Fitzgerald, Etta James and Dinah Washington. These have all had a massive impact on me. And also — I know I mentioned earlier — Burt Bacharach, and I love epic orchestral music. Something that makes you dream.

DO YOU REMEMBER YOUR FIRST LIVE PERFORMANCE?

Apart from being in the school choir when I was little, I think secondary school is my first major recollection of singing. I had to sing in music class — I did Alone by Heart, which is a bloody difficult song! Nerve-wracking to do that in front of peers, but fun and, as I remember, they were supportive.

WOULD YOU EVER CONSIDER WRITING YOUR OWN MATERIAL AND/OR DOING AN ALBUM?

It has been suggested to me to do that and it feels like natural progression in terms of credibility. We have all been through lots of things in our lives; I’m sure lots of us could put stuff down on paper about how we’re feeling. I hope I have a lot to say — I feel I do — and I think it’s the natural next step to find the right production-writing team. Just to get a couple of originals out there would be amazing; not necessarily an album.

EVER THOUGHT ABOUT DOING MUSICAL THEATRE?

Never say never. I never have but that’s not to say I wouldn’t. I just really want to be heard and to make a little bit of a difference; hopefully give other people joy. I don’t think you should ever put any boundaries up in life. I just want to see how far I can go.

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE SORTS OF VENUES TO PLAY?

It sounds silly, but I enjoy a venue with no limitations! Every gig and every audience is different, and I am learning to adapt to each gig as I play it. I trust my instincts to evaluate the mood of the audience and then tailor my set as I go along – it helps that I can switch from smooth jazz lounge to soul to up-tempo party tunes.

WHAT IS THE DREAM OR END GOAL FOR YOU?

I am of a certain age now where I think, “You know what? Let’s look at every possible opportunity.” One thing that’s a dream for a me is to sing with a huge orchestra. As a vocalist, you can’t really top that. I’d also love to be featured on a cinematic score. Oh, and Ronnie Scott’s would be nice as well! Playing that venue is definitely on my bucket list.

If you’ve enjoyed reading Susie’s story, find out more on her website. You can also follow her on Facebook and Instagram, and listen to her recordings on her YouTube channel too!

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Hannah Elkins, Musician

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Musician Hannah Elkins
Photo courtesy of Hannah Elkins

Ahead of releasing her first single, we had a chat with musician Hannah Elkins. Where did her journey in music begin and what are her hopes for the future?

Dividing her time between the hustle-and-bustle of London and the Bournemouth music scene, we were lucky to have a few words with musician and singer Hannah Elkins. As she goes to release her first single, it seemed like a good time to hear about her beginnings in music…

ARE YOU FROM THE BOURNEMOUTH AREA?

Yeah – I grew up in Bournemouth. I studied at Leeds University, and then came back to Bournemouth, before moving to London last summer. But most of my life has been spent in the area.

WHEN DID YOU FIRST DECIDE THAT MUSIC WAS WHAT YOU WANTED TO DO?

My mum is a singer herself. She’s very musical and runs a choir in Bournemouth. So, in a way, I had no choice. I grew up singing and it was just what I knew to do. But it was really at secondary school that I realised that it was what I wanted to do for a career, and what I went to study at university.

DO YOU MODEL YOUR STYLE ON ANY ARTISTS IN PARTICULAR?

My favourite artist is Lianne La Havas. She has very delicate, beautiful vocals, with quite hard guitar sounds. For me, it was the first time I had heard that kind of contrast in music, which I fell in love with. Another one is Jessie Ware. I just found out that she was classically trained, and I studied classical singing at university. I think that’s why I love her stuff so much – you can hear she’s just got this amazing voice in there. She’s a huge inspiration to me.

TELL ME ABOUT YOUR FIRST GIG…

I started writing my own music probably quite late in comparison to others. A lot of them, you hear they started writing when they were 12. For me, that didn’t happen until I went to university. Because I studied classical singing, and then I went for a year abroad in the Netherlands to learn to play piano. And it really changed my perspective of music and how I wanted to approach it.

So I started sitting at the piano and writing my own stuff. And then when I went back for my final year at Leeds, I just thought, “I’ve got to do this!” Took a lot of courage, but I booked my first gig at Hyde Park Book Club. Lovely little intimate venue – it was actually quite terrifying because it was so intimate. We had about 70 people in this room. I just rocked up with my notepad (with my lyrics on it) in one hand and my little keyboard and sat in front of these people, who were the most attentive audience I’ve ever had. And that was it – I was hooked.

NOW LET’S TALK ABOUT YOUR UPCOMING FIRST SINGLE…

It’s called After the Midnight. I don’t have a set writing method with any of my music. Normally, I’ll find this idea, work around it and build the song, but with this one, I had just a chorus – two lines and two chords that I knew I loved. Had no idea where I was going with it. Even when I stepped into the studio, I didn’t have the song in full! Bit risky, I know, but I like a challenge. I don’t know if I’d recommend it…

So, I worked with my friends Elliot Wenman, who plays guitar, and Niko Battistini, who is a Bournemouth-based producer. With those two, I created this song.

When I started writing this, I had started a different mind state of how I wanted to write. So, it was included in a couple of other songs I had written. There was the theme of this midnight, the stars, the universe; it just fit into this collection that I was working on at the time.

WHY HAVE YOU DECIDED TO LAUNCH YOUR SINGLE SPECIFICALLY IN BOURNEMOUTH?

I am really excited to come back and do the launch here. That’s because After the Midnight has been a collaboration with a lot of Bournemouth musicians and artists. The artwork was done by a girl called Amy Leonard, who is studying at the Arts University. She’s done some brilliant artwork for me. Plus the photography has been done by Alice Parmenter, who’s also Bournemouth-based. And then, as I mentioned earlier, the production from Niko. There’s such talent in Bournemouth, and that’s where this single has come from.

WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE BEST THING ABOUT THE BOURNEMOUTH MUSIC SCENE?

In Bournemouth, there is this real market of music-lovers. There is something called Sofar Sounds, which is run in Bournemouth. I performed for them a couple of years ago, and then I volunteered for their team afterwards. It’s a brilliant event where they basically get three acts and take them to an intimate venue. Audiences can apply for tickets, and they don’t know where the venue will be or what the lineup is until they’re emailed a few days before. They tell you at the beginning of the gig that they want you to pay attention to the artists and give them that respect, which I think can be lost in some of the bigger venues. London, for example, can be slightly saturated.

WHAT IS THE DREAM OR END GOAL FOR YOU AS A MUSICIAN

Ultimately, it’s to write music that people can relate to and want to listen to. As long as there’s someone there who is listening and says that they like it — that’s the dream, really.

Read more amazing and inspiring stories from the talent of Bournemouth in our Humans section. And find out more about Hannah on her Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.

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Stephanie Wyatt, Miss Earth 2019

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Learn more about Stephanie Wyatt, 19, from Dorset, as she has been crowned the new Miss Earth 2019…

At the end of last month, Stephanie Wyatt was crowned Miss Earth England 2019 at the Arden Hotel in Birmingham, sponsored by Millennium Balti in Leamington Spa. She got in touch with Humans of Bournemouth with full details on her story and what it’s like to be “Miss Earth.”

WHAT ARE YOUR DUTIES AS MISS EARTH?

As Miss Earth, I will be representing England on an international platform of millions of people around the world. Since I have also been rewarded with the title of ‘Beauties of a Cause Eco-Ambassador’ for my accomplishments, my duties include working with environmental, eco-activities and other social causes.

WHAT’S YOUR ADVOCACY?

My main aim is to advocate the preservation and restoration of Mother Earth. From a young age, I remember being exposed to the harsh reality around me and knew I had to make a change. When I found out that I could make a difference, I knew I had to carry on doing what I was doing.

DO YOU BELIEVE THERE IS A STIGMA ON PAGEANTS?

Despite the stigmas, Miss Earth is different to your everyday beauty pageant. It is an environmentally-focused competition. A platform for change. For example, one of our challenges that was judged was to create an “eco-warrior” outfit. I decided to make mine completely out of real flowers. I believe that we are sending out a message here, showing the public that we all have a responsibility to preserve and attend to what the world we live in needs. Which fights against any stigmas.

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT GOING TO THE MISS EARTH FINAL?

I am extremely honoured to be put in the position to attend the final. Which is the third-most prestigious platform in the world to represent England. I’m also privileged to meet so many like-minded women. I’d like to thank the Miss Earth England organisation and I hope that I will do my country proud. This really is a dream come true for me.

DO YOU HAVE ANY OTHER PROJECTS BESIDES FROM MISS EARTH?

I want to be socially and environmentally responsible for our earth. That’s why I created my own project in 2017. I investigated how I could tackle the world’s second-largest polluting industry, which is clothing. I thought of several ways to reduce this problem and also need those in need at the same time. That’s why I decided to aid those whom are struggle with period poverty. My first steps to making a difference were deciding to set up workshops at my local library, where the public could donate their unwanted clothes. Once generous individuals had donated, I was then able to up-cycle them into re-usable sanitary wear for girls in Kenya. This can make a big transformation on a girl’s life in Kenya since they can go to school now in comfort and not have to worry about their period getting in the way of their education.

WHAT DO YOU PLAN TO DO DURING YOUR REIGN AS MISS EARTH?

I hope to set up a lot more like-minded projects, similar to what I have done before. I’m particularly interested in helping Third World countries; they are one of the main reasons why I put my heart and soul into the work I do.

Find out more about the Miss Earth pageant on their Facebook page. And for more inspiring stories about the locals of Bournemouth, Poole and surrounding areas, check out our Humans section.

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Jack Lenton, Personal Trainer

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Personal Trainer Jack Lenton

Meet Jack Lenton. His lifestyle is his career. As a personal trainer, he owns his own business and is able to train clients worldwide.

Learn more about how he decided to become a personal trainer and how his passion for fitness began. Jack also desires to help others develop their own career in the fitness industry…

ARE YOU ORIGINALLY FROM BOURNEMOUTH?

No, I grew up in the south of Somerset. Then I decided to go to Exeter University, so I lived there for a while. After that I lived in America for 18 months. I’ve lived in Bournemouth for the past year. My girlfriend lived here, so it made sense for me to move here with her.

WHAT DOES YOUR PROFESSION INVOLVE?

My day-to-day job is mainly online coaching and training. I also employ people to help with my business and coaching — I love being able to give people the chance to do what they love as a job. We mainly coach one-to-one sessions, giving the clients personal advice on themselves and how their body works and what suits them. Nevertheless, we also coach in groups as well; they don’t tend to be any more than 40 people. An individual’s ability determines what group they are put in. As a group, they will be supported as much as possibly needed.

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO GET INTO FITNESS?

Fitness was the only thing that kept my attention; I didn’t really enjoy school. All my efforts went into fitness and sports instead of education. Therefore, when choosing a university course, exercising science caught my eye. It was the only course that for fulfilled my desires at the time.

WERE YOU INTO SPORTS AT SCHOOL?

Of course! It wasn’t weightlifting or strength training — I was too young for any of that. I tended to play more standard sports such as football, basketball and I tried a bit of trampolining. As a kid, just being active was my priority. Fitness has always been a key aspect of my life.

WOULD YOU SAY YOU LIVE A STRICT LIFESTYLE IN TERMS OF FITNESS?

I have made my fitness lifestyle strict because that is the how I prefer it. My mental and physical health has improved by working out daily. Although it never limits me in terms of my lifestyle, since I enjoy it so much, it’s more of a hobby than a chore.

HOW LONG DID IT TAKE FOR YOU TO START SEEING RESULTS ON YOUR OWN BODY?

I was looking at photos of myself the other day. From when I was about a year into my training and my body was so different. It took me about two years to see a massive progress. For a long while, I wasn’t very sure on what worked on my body type in terms on fitness wise. I found that, I noticed what I was doing wrong before finding what I was doing right. Over the years, I’ve increased how much I train. Before fitness and training was part of my daily routine, I was working out about five times a week. My personality is quite addictive, so that certainly helped keep myself on track.

IS SOCIAL MEDIA IMPORTANT TOWARDS YOUR CAREER AS A PERSONAL TRAINER?

Social media makes a significant impact on my career since it allows me to coach worldwide. My personal trainer career is no longer restricted to local people; because of social media, anyone can reach out to me. It also benefits me in terms of meeting like-minded individuals from anywhere and everywhere. Those who share the same passions as me and are part of the fitness community.

WHAT IS YOUR END GOAL?

Right now, I hope to carry on what I’m doing and making money from it. I also hope to keep employing more and more people for my business. This means I can help them gain experience and earn money from doing something they love as a career, just like me.

Don’t forget to check out Jack’s Instagram and website to learn more about his coaching!

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