Woman wins Whittingham award

Scottish alto saxophonist and bandleader Helena Kay has been announced as the winner of the 2017 Peter Whittingham Jazz Award

Music charity Help Musicians UK (HMUK) has announced that young Scottish alto saxophonist and bandleader Helena Kay (pictured right) has won the 2017 Peter Whittingham Jazz award, worth £5,000.

HMUK is committed to supporting and championing women in jazz and last year announced the Jazz Promoter Fellowship Programme in partnership with jazz composer and gender equality campaigner Issie Barratt, with the aim of "closing the identified gender gap in the sector".

Claire Gevaux, HMUK’s creative director, added “Women are under-represented in jazz and through a series of initiatives HMUK will continue to work collaboratively to redress the gender imbalance by championing women in the music industry".

The charity will focus on women in jazz at London’s 100 Club on Sunday 4 February, with Helena Kay’s KIM Trio and Jasmine Whalley’s Tȇtes De Pois performing alongside Laura Jurd as part of Independent Venue Week.

Kay, originally from Perth, Scotland, is a former Young Scottish Jazz Musician Of The Year, jazz graduate and artist fellow of Guildhall School, as well as bandleader of KIM Trio.

Reacting to winning the award, Kay said “Recording, releasing and promoting my debut album is a daunting and expensive prospect, but the support and guidance that this award provides will be a massive help in making it possible".

HMUK also awarded additional development funds to three other jazz artists: Olly Chalk, Faye MacCalman (Archipelago) and Jasmine Whalley (Tȇtes De Pois).

The Peter Whittingham Jazz Award was established in 1990. The award, judged independently of HMUK, is awarded annually to emerging jazz musicians and offers development funding to allow high potential artists to advance their careers. Previous Peter Whittingham Jazz Award awardees include Errollyn Wallen MBE, Soweto Kinch, Andrea Vicari, Empirical, Led Bib, Phil Meadows and the Mercury Prize nominated Roller Trio. The award’s judging panel was chaired by Peter Whittingham’s son-in-law Clive Shelton and included jazz musicians Zoe Rahman, Geoff Gascoyne, Issie Barratt and Noel Langley.

For more information about Help Musicians UK and details of the 100 Club event, go to the Help Musicians UK webpage.

Bruce Lindsay

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