Thea Gilmore and Special Guests at The Apex...
Thea Gilmore’s debut album ‘Burning Dorothy’ was released in 1999, when she was just 18 years old. In 2003 she hit the UK charts for the first time with her 4th album ‘Avalanche’ and the hit singles ‘Juliet’ and ‘Mainstream’. During this period she famously refused to sign to major record labels, refused to work with a famous dance remix team and refused to say she was sleeping with a soap star in order to gain tabloid exposure. She was told by two A&R men that she had 'missed her moment'.
Thea grew up with her father’s record collection: Dylan, The Beatles, Neil Young, Leonard Cohen, Simon & Garfunkel and Joni Mitchell. This, she says, led her to “the obvious conclusion that music was a lifelong relationship. But when I got absorbed into the industry and saw first-hand how it could chew up artists and spit them out again, it was a bit of a shock. It made me angry. [I] decided that I had to have a different type of career, one more like all those artists I’d admired.”
In 2012, Thea’s 14th album ‘Don't Stop Singing’ - new musical settings of the late Sandy Denny's unfinished works - received great acclaim, and included the single ‘London’ which was used extensively in the BBC TV coverage of the Olympic Games. Thea explains: “In the current musical climate of pile ‘em high, sell ‘em cheap, people figure that careers like mine can’t happen anymore. The idea of an artist releasing 14 albums over 17 years and selling more with every record is an anathema to most of the industry”.
Thea became a regularly playlisted artist on BBC Radio 2 and her razor sharp lyrics, melodic flair and honey-toned voice have been much admired by wide ranging contemporaries, including Bruce Springsteen, Sting, Richard Thompson, David Baddeil and Steven Mangan. These days she is as likely to produce an intelligent, witty pop anthem as she is a dark twisted folk epic, with her appeal as broad as her ever increasing fanbase.
Thea’s new album ‘Ghosts & Graffiti’ hits the streets in June. Part new album, part retrospective, Gilmore revisits old material but does so in stellar company. The album features collaborations with Joan Baez, Billy Bragg, The Waterboys, Joan As Policewoman, John Cooper Clarke, King Creosote and I Am Kloot. Their contributions join forces with six new songs, Thea's recent run of radio hits and selected jewels from her back catalogue. “I wanted to bring new light to some older songs... I was so young when I wrote many of them, and I’ve come to see some of the early versions as no longer definitive."
Still just 35, and with 15 albums under her belt, Thea has - over 17 years - carved out a home from the solid rock of the music business. She admits “I didn’t set out to make so many albums... there was no master plan, I just had things to say so I found a way to say them.”
Whilst perhaps not a household name, Thea Gilmore has crept up on us all as a quiet icon. Meanwhile at least one of the A&R men was last seen cooking school dinners.
Thea Gilmore’s gig will be at The Apex on Tuesday 26 May at 7.30pm. Tickets are £22.50, call the Box Office on 01284 758000, or visit www.theapex.co.uk for more information, or to book your tickets.