Sunday, 2 April 2017

Top Ten Tips for Finding Creative Inspiration

Like many artists, I often go through periods where I feel totally uncreative - as if I'll never ever be able to write anything again!  It can become a crippling self-fulfilling prophecy and each time it happens (although I tell myself that it's happened before and I've managed to work through it) I truly believe that "this time" there'll be no way out of it.

I've just come through another one of those phases and thought that it might be a good idea to write down a checklist of the things that really help me.  Hopefully it means that I won't panic the next time I'm hit by a "creative block". :-)  Perhaps there's something here that can help you too...

1.  Dream about it

My debut album, Aphrodite's Child, included several tracks that were almost entirely written after waking from a dream and immediately writing down the music and/or lyrics floating around in my head.  I dream every single night.  I don't often dream music but for when I do, I have my phone nearby and can quickly use the voice recorder to capture my ideas.  Perhaps you're more of a pen and paper person and could keep a notebook by your bed.  And if you don't dream, I still think that "sleeping on it" can sometimes help you solve a problem, so it's worth a shot!

2. Take a walk

Many songs have come to me while I've been out walking.  I might be strolling through a lovely park enjoying the sights and sounds of nature or I could be walking along a busy London road being hypnotised by the rattle and hum of traffic.   Again I will have my trusty voice recorder to record anything that comes to mind.  Sometimes, just getting out of your usual environment can cause a shift in your thoughts and allow ideas to break through.

3. Watch a film

I love watching films and there's so much great television available online these days from services like Netflix and Amazon.  One of my current favourites is Black Mirror.  Highly recommended!  Watching films and TV, whether fiction or documentaries, can expose you to ideas that wouldn't come up in your normal life.  For me, it's a great way to relax and give my creative thoughts time to marinate and develop, in the same way that sleeping/dreaming can.

4. Visit a gallery

This is not something I do much but I think visiting an art gallery or museum is a great way to stimulate the senses.  One of my favourite exhibitions is the annual "Sensational Butterflies" at the Natural History Museum.  Just magical!

5. See the sea

Whenever I really need to unblock my creativity, a visit to the sea is top of my list.  There's something about listening to the sound of waves whilst looking out on an endless horizon that really calms me.  After a recording gap of around 4 years, I started writing my most recent album whilst walking by the sea at a tiny resort on the coast near Athens, Greece.  I remember that the song "Forbidden Fruit" came to me in its entirety in about 20 mins.  It was such a beautiful experience.

6.  Write it out

Brainstorming or stream of consciousness writing is another way I sometimes work to get the ideas out.  The trick is to make sure you do absolutely no censoring of yourself.  Just let the words flow.  There could well be a gem or two in there...

7.  Meditate on it

I'm not going to lie - I find it extremely difficult to meditate.  My mind is always going at 1,000mph.  What I've found really helpful is using the guided meditation tracks that you can find on YouTube.  Even 10 minutes is hard for me but it's something I'm working on.  A great way to clear the mind to allow those creative ideas through.  

8.  Take a break

Just stop.  Forbid yourself to write music, or whatever it is that you're struggling with, for a short period of time.  Sometimes just knowing that you can't do something makes you want to do it all the more!  It also takes the pressure off and allows you to forget about your block for a while without the guilt of feeling unproductive.  When the time period is up, just go with the flow and see if anything comes to you.  

9.  Sweat it out

Exercise is another thing that I know I should do much more.  It always takes me so much effort to start but then it feels so good once I've finished that I wonder why I resisted!  Physical exercise releases endorphins that makes you feel good.  Apparently this triggers a similar feeling to taking morphine - who knew?!  

10.  Read a book

My latest album "Spellbound Stories" is a set of songs inspired by my favourite novels.  I don't read as much as I used to but there's something about the written word that allows your free reign to your imagination like nothing else.  The video above is a song I wrote after reading Paulo Coelho's "Veronika Decides to Die".

I'd love to hear your thoughts.  If you have any suggestions about ways to break through those pesky blocks or any other feedback, comments are very welcome!

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Bowie, Bath and Beyond

Masonic Hall

It's been a quiet couple of months as far as performances go but things are going to be picking up in the spring.

Lots of exciting gigs planned.  I'm back with more Bond to Bowie in a return visit to Saffron Hall where we had lots of fun last year with Family Jazz All Stars.  And speaking of Family Jazz, I'll be featured once again with this project for two shows at Norwich Playhouse for the Norwich & Norfolk Festival in May.  Looking forward to playing with my fabulous all star band again.  Here's an interview that I did about the show before last year's performance.

28 April - Bond to Bowie (with Jennifer Carr), Saffron Hall
13 May - Family Jazz All-Stars, Norwich Playhouse, Norfolk & Norwich Festival

And at the end of May I'll be working on a new project with the excellent performance poet/spoken word artist Zena Edwards for the Bath Festival.   We'll be performing songs around the themes of our past, present, future and what it means to be a thinking and feeling person in an increasingly self-centred, "post-truth" world.  The show will take place in the beautiful Masonic Hall at the Old Theatre Royal, a setting that will make this debut performance even more special.

22 May - New Meetings: Juliet Kelly & Zena Edwards, Masonic Hall, Bath Festival

In the summer, gigs will be happening in Oxford, London and possibly Italy!  I will keep you posted.

Friday, 23 December 2016

2016 has been an interesting year...

With Brexit in the UK followed by Donald Trump in the US, it's certainly been an "interesting" year...

There have been ups and downs -  a couple of the ups being my trip to Crete in July to perform at their jazz festival with the amazing Dimitri Vassilakis and getting back on the rural road with my new Bond to Bowie show in the autumn.  The tour included return visits to a couple of village halls that I had performed at as part of my first ever rural tour with my Divas of Jazz show.  Once again, we had a great time visiting these gorgeous parts of the country.  And we also got a great review for the show in Cotherstone.  Read it here.

Performing in Crete with Dimitri Vassilakis Quartet

Middleton & Todridge Village Hall

Whittingham Memorial Institute

Lund Village Hall

Kirton in Lindsey Town Hall

Beverley Minster - We stayed in beautiful Beverley for the last leg of the tour

Swanland Village Hall - looking Christmassy

A lovely note received after the show in Swanland from a 12-year-old audience member!

I also got the chance to try my hand at being a presenter/host for some of the London Jazz Festival shows.  Really enjoyed it and hope to be doing more of this, alongside any radio presenting opportunities that my come up.

Next year I'm looking forward to appearing at more festivals and possibly some performances in Germany too.  Watch this space!

Until then, here's a video of my song "Little Things".  Happy Holidays!

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Back on the Rural Road

Middleton Village Hall

The debut performance for Bond to Bowie took place in the same village hall in Dufton as the debut performance of Celebrating the Divas of Jazz.  Once again it was a great success!  We had so much fun playing some of my favourite songs - songs which turned out to be favourites of many in the audience too,  And it was wonderful to work with Jennifer Carr again who until recently I hadn't performed with for over 10 years!  We also had some great audiences in Frosterly, Middleton and Whittingham.

There are still 6 more shows to come and I can't wait to sing those songs again and visit more tucked away, beautiful rural parts of the UK.

Sat 15-Oct-16 Amble Parish Hall, Northumberland NE65 0DX
Sun 16-Oct-16 Cotherstone Village Hall, County Durham DL12 9PG
Fri 28-Oct 7.30 Lund Village Hall, Yorkshire YO25 9TF
Sat 29 Oct - Broughton Hall, Brigg, North Lincolnshire DN20 0JG
Thu 01-Dec-16 Kirton in Lindsey Town Hall, North Lincolnshire DN21 4LZ
Fri 02-Dec-16 8.00 Winteringham Village Hall, North Lincolnshire DN15 9NN
Sat 03-Dec-16 7.30 Swanland Village Hall, Yorkshire HU14 3QR
Sun 04-Dec-16 8.00 Bishop Burton Village Hall, Yorkshire HU17 8QJ

Saturday, 30 July 2016

New Show - Bond to Bowie: Songs of Stage & Screen

So excited about my new show!  After focusing on novels for my last album, I got to thinking about my favourite songs from cinema, stage and television.  I'll be touring this new show around the village halls of Northumberland, Yorkshire and Cumbria in September and October.  There'll also be a London show at the Elgar Room at Royal Albert Hall on 6 October. 

Bond to Bowie: Songs of Stage & Screen

Juliet Kelly is one of UK jazz’s hidden treasures.  Gifted with a beautiful, expressive voice, she is also a talented, highly original songwriter, who draws on a diverse set of influences and has performed with the likes of Courtney Pine, Seb Rochford and Talvin Singh.  She has appeared at clubs and festivals throughout the UK and Europe and opened for legendary artists such as Georgie Fame and Take 6. 

After several successful tours of her show "Celebrating the Divas of Jazz", the acclaimed singer and songwriter now shines a spotlight on her favourite songs from stage and screen. Bringing her warm personality and a jazzy flavour to the songs from classic movies, musicals and tv shows, Juliet will take you on a whistle-stop tour through the ages of musical entertainment.

"One of those rare singers that tells a genuine story with her music, through her passionate performance and naturally warm voice, it's a beguiling combination that's hard to resist. One of the UK's finest singers in any genre" TIME OUT

"The nuanced warmth of Kelly's rich, full voice is streets ahead of most of her contemporaries."  BBC MUSIC

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Birmingham, Birthdays and Baileys

Photo by Brian Homer taken at Birmingham Jazz in Sep 2015

I am so looking forward to performing in Birmingham again!  I was there last Autumn with my Spellbound Stories project and I'm back again this Sunday with Celebrating the Divas of Jazz. We'll be appearing as part of Birmingham Jazz's Legends of Jazz Festival.  In anticipation of this I did an interview with Peter Bacon's excellent Jazz Breakfast blog.  He asked some really tough questions and really made me think.  My favourite part of was when he asked me what I thought about standards given that I mostly write and record my own material.  I replied:

"I think classic songs are loved by many and will always be relevant. The wonderful thing about jazz is that the standards are like a beautiful piece of fabric that each musician gets to make into a unique garment. Some keep it simple, some come up with high fashion concepts that everyone admires but no-one will ever wear. Fashions change but beautiful music and clothes can always be appreciated."

Read the full interview here.

I'm also very excited to be taking part in the first ever Festival of Voice in Cardiff in June.  I'll be supporting Hugh Masekela at the New Theatre on 7 June.  Tickets here.


It was my birthday earlier this month.  I usually celebrate my birthweek (one day is much too short!)  I got some lovely gifts and one of the highlights was going to see Rambert at Sadler's Wells.  They performed three separate dance pieces with the themes, "murder, mystery and a party"!  Anyone who's been to see Spellbound Stories will know how much the themes of murder and mystery influenced my project and of course I love a party!  My favourite section was the "party" piece Itzik Galili’s A Linha Curva - "a spectacular, sexy, percussion-fuelled explosion of samba-flavoured dance".  I don't often go to see dance performances so it was a rare and enjoyable treat.


My birthday gifts included a bottle of the Limited Edition Baileys Chocolat Luxe. Mmmmmmmm!  I LOVE Baileys and am quite a fan of chocolate too so can you imagine my delight at discovering the nectar that is the two of these delicious ingredients combined?  Their marketing department describes it as the "ultimate decadent drinking experience".  I concur.  And I'll just say again... mmmmmmm!  Cheers!

Friday, 18 March 2016

Women's Day Debut (& Family Jazz All Stars is Back!)

Photo by Steven Cropper

International Women's Day was the ideal opportunity for me to showcase a new group made up of three female musicians!  It was such fun to work with the creative talents of Tori Freestone (sax) and Alcyona Mick (piano) and our debut performance at The Vortex on 8 March was very much a success.  We chose songs written about women, for women or by women and the overarching theme was love.  The set included originals by the individual members of the band plus a varied mix of other material that included tunes from Thelonius Monk and Joni Mitchell.  Hopefully there'll be more from us in the future.  Watch this space...

And Family Jazz All Stars is back!  We're performing at the beautiful Saffron Hall in Saffron Walden.   Can't wait!

Sunday 03 April - Saffron Hall, Saffron Walden, Essex (Tickets)