“My music would be considered contemporary jazz”, she explains, “but jazz is so diverse that it seems a shame to try and put it in a box”. “The music is very expressive and very honest. There’s a lot of soul and funk and there’s a spiritual aspect to it too.” The sound of jazz has evolved so much since the Thirties and Forties so it sounds nothing like what you might hear on a Billie Holiday recording for example.
So how did Edel find herself in the world of jazz and how did she get to where she is now?
“I jumped right in at the deep end, doing my first gig at 18 at our Leaving Cert results celebrations, ” she explains. “From there I moved to Dublin, while doing a Degree in Journalism and started busking on Grafton Street in my spare time.
The following year I joined the Gardiner Street Gospel Choir, which was a game changer because within a few months of joining the choir, I performed solo with them at the Ambassador Theatre, rapped on-stage at Vicar Street and appeared on The Late Late Show”!
Edel went on to meet some people in the choir who were training to become jazz musicians, and as fate would have it, she was presented with the opportunity to study for a semester in Chicago. This was where she first took vocal jazz classes and arranging classes, which led to her enrolling on a full-time BA in Jazz Performance when she got back to Dublin.
“I had been doing quite a lot of freelance journalism at the time and had a regular feature in a women’s magazine, and was working in radio and TV, but I decided to leave all that behind and follow my dream instead.”
“Things are busy these days”, she says. “Last year, I did 84 gigs as well as running my jazz singing courses, so it’s full on.” “When I first started performing in 2007, I was only doing one gig every few months.”
Edel tells me that life as a musician can be hard. For every rock’n’roll millionaire there are thousands of gifted artists eeking out a living. “It’s a vocation essentially”, she admits. I would be miserable if I wasn’t living a creative life. A 9-5 job isn’t for me.”
Her songs, with their soft vocals and intriguing chords, pick over ruined love affairs and proves the point that having your heart broken makes for bloody good songs. She’s at her most raw and vulnerable in songs like ‘Love Lost,’ written in the aftermath of the break up of a relationship.
Her words are direct, emotive and reflect what many of those who have been in similar situations feel: ” What good are words? What could we say? So I’d smile at you and slowly walk away”. She finds the task of songwriting therapeutic and in the case of ‘Love Lost’ its hard not to empathise with her.
Her melodic tone is soothing, yet raw with emotion and you can truly feel like you’re right there with her. Channeling her pain and experiences into her music is something that came naturally to her. “All my life experience is reflected in my music, and I find it deeply therapeutic. Everything inspires me, feelings, emotions, colours, art, people and spirituality.”
But the part of the process that Edel enjoys the most is songwriting, “I love giving birth to new melodies and lyrics. Sometimes they just pour out and its a really beautiful experience. And its very intimate, just me and the piano.”
With the release of ‘Blue Fantasia’ around the corner, Edel realises a dream come true. “This is proof that we can do anything with our lives when we put our minds to it. I’m a girl from Tipperary with no music in my family whatsoever, but I always wanted to do this and I’ve worked hard to make it happen.”
Blue Fantasia will be released on