AWARD winning jazz chanteuse Tina May will be thrilling the crowds with her pitch perfect velvety vocals when she comes to Southend on Tuesday.

A firm favourite balladeer on the jazz scene, and a regular guest to Southend's various jazz clubs and festivals, the lady who has recorded several albums on the 33 Jazz Records label, will be appearing at Annie's Jazz club, alongside Frank Griffith's nine piece mini big-band.

Ann Taylor who runs the jazz club says she is ecstatic that Tina will be visiting the local venue, as she fills large halls worldwide.

Born in March 1961 in Gloucester, Tina started developing her jazz sensibilities at University College, Cardiff where she started forming bands with other musicians.

Because she was a French student, she went off to live in Paris for a year as part of her degree course where began her apprenticeship in Jazz when, by chance, she met up with some aspiring young music students, who invited her to 'faire un boeuf' - have a jam with them.

These musicians were Pascal Gaubert and Patrick Villanueva, who recorded with Tina on the Live in Paris album nearly twenty years later!

Very soon Tina was performing at Le Slow Club with the Roger Guerin Big Band with special guest Kenny Clarke, among taking on other gigs. She formed a quartet with Patrick Villanueva, Renaud Garcia-Fons, Alain Richard and they performed all over Paris. At that time Tina was also involved in comedy theatre.

She met up with another talented thespian - a certain now very famous comedian and impersonator called Rory Bremner - who was already writing sketches and performing his hilarious monologues and skits on politics.

Together Tina and Rory performed You are Eiffel but I like You - a review show which they took from Paris to the Edinburgh Fringe re-naming it Midnight Excess. Tina was singing some amusing jazz songs like I'm Hip and doing some bi-lingual and Franglais originals as well as acting alongside Rory.

Tina came back to the UK to live in London, and her musical career spiralled across the decades, with her touring all over the world, winning awards, working with some of the biggest names in jazz, recording several albums, touring at festivals and more.

She has also worked as a successful actress too. All this, which she juggled with motherhood!

I caught up with her on a brief breather on her jam packed schedule.

KB: What is your earliest musical memory?

TM: It was at family parties where everyone sang and/or played an instrument to join in. I loved Fats Waller, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong.... Our house was filled with music.

KB: When did you first realise you had a gift for singing?

TM: I first realised I could sing around the age of 12 or 13 when a few kids in the school play ground used asked to sing to them. I enjoyed that.

KB: Your time spent in Paris when you was a student – when you started to jam with other bands – sounds so exciting and romantic. Did the music and arts scene there differ to the one in the UK at the time, and if so, in which way?

TM: Paris was a great place to be a student and Jazz has always been a favourite there. In the early Eighties there was a great atmosphere and the jazz clubs were great. I started singing with a great bunch of musicians and was lucky to be in the right place at the right time. I worked with some real stellar musicians. I think they have adopted jazz as their national music really.

KB: You went on after this to move to London, where you lived an action-packed life, juggling workshops, singing in bands, going to festivals, winning awards, touring, and being a mum. Were you earning a living from your singing career then or did you have to also juggle extra work to get pay?

TM: As I was also an actress I went straight into musical theatre as well as jazz. Yes - I have always earned my living as a singer/ actress.

KB: How did you manage being a mum as well? Did it mean you had to sacrifice much?

TM: When I married and became a mum I opted to just specialise in jazz as a freelance singer. Theatre was not an option as it takes you away from home a lot more. I used to sing at Ronnie Scotts - in those days was easier as it started really late. I could put the children to bed and go to work leaving a babysitter (who was often my dad) at home. I was always there when they woke up... but tired. I refused more work abroad than I care to remember but have no regrets. It's a sacrifice every mum makes. Much later in 2007, I returned to the stage and musical theatre, singing the title role of Lady in the Dark with the Opéra de Lyon - a jazz musical from Broadway. I did so with my children's blessing as they had never seen me do this before. I loved it and they were proud of me - I think.

KB: It would seem that a lot of people you met along the way of your musical journey, have come back into or stayed in your life, and you have worked with them again later on. Why does this tend to happen?

TM: My Parisian musician friends from the Eighties are still in my band when I work in Paris.

KB: We all know you for your jazz connection, but is there any other genre of music that you particular listen to and like?

TM: I listen to everything. I love Sia, Lady Gaga, but also Ray Charles, Mark Murphy, Ella Fitzgerald, Carmen MacRae, Dame Cleo Laine, Sting, Bublé, Gregory Porter, Lala Hathaway with Sparky Puppy, Edith Piaf - a bit eclectic perhaps .... the list goes on

KB: Is there anyone (musically speaking) you like, who might surprise us?

TM: I love folk music too, Brazilian music, French chansons, hot club, gypsy jazz!

KB: Who is your favourite vocalist and why?

TM: So difficult to just say one. I have an album coming out soon where I sing the lyrics and writing of Mark Murphy - an amazing jazz singer - with a jazz pianist from Munich, called Andy Lutter. It's a great recording and remembers a fine vocal artist. Also I am touring in the autumn with an Italian virtuoso pianist Enrico Pieranunzi with whom I have recorded Home is where the Heart is - a collaborative project of his music and my lyrics.

KB: Who would you like to most like to work with, living or dead, and why?

TM: Ooh! That's tough... Again, so many wonderful musicians... Where do I start? I love other singers and duets are always a joy! I'm a fan of Tony Bennett - that would be a dream!

KB: What is the favourite song you like to sing and why?

TM: Si tu Partais ( If You Go.) It was recorded by Piaf, Peggy Lee and.... me.

KB: What is next for Tina May?

TM: This summer I've got some festivals coming up. People can look at for details if they want. I've also putting on a summer jazz school in France - you can find out about that at I've got an upcoming tour in October in UK with Enrico Pieranunzi and a new release of Tina May Sings Mark Murphy out on 33 Records in the early autumn. I've also got a concert tour of China in the autumn and also some teaching and workshops. Busy girl!

* The Frank Griffith Nonet with Tina May is on Tuesday July 5, at Annie's Jazz Club, Thorpe Hall Golf Club, Thorpe Hall Avenue, Southend.

Expect mix of Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Jerry Mulligan and originals with 40s Rhumbas and 60s Kitsch. Vocalist, Tina May's contribution will include torch ballads and eclectic jazz and popular standards, many of which are arranged by Frank.

Tickets are £16 to non members or £14 to members.

Visit for more information and booking.