Kaz Hawkins joins BBC Radio Ulster this Sunday 26th March at 6.30pm, for the first of her six-part series, Kaz Hawkins Got The Blues.
You’ll know Kaz Hawkins. There’s that astonishing blues soul voice, the Belfast-craic and the raw honesty. And you can’t forget the signature DMs, 50’s dresses and big lipstick that tie her look together.
“I love the journey of blues and soul” she says of the music she has made her own. “Everyone is inspired by it in modern music and I just wish it had a bigger stage in mainstream music. For me it’s about keepin’ the blues alive.”
2017 is due to be a big year for our own multi-award winning ‘Blues and Soul Darlin’ and in her quest to keep the blues flourishing. Apart from the international touring, there’s the new album following up on 2014’s Get Ready. The new one though will be focusing simply on piano and the depth of her voice, and as a relentless supporter of a number of charities it comes as no surprise that she’s releasing a single from the album to help raise awareness about depression. In fact a percentage of the album sales at the launch on 22nd July will also be donated towards Aware NI, a charity for which she is a proud ambassador.
To add to that workload she has also been asked to host a six-part series, Kaz Hawkins Got The Blues, starting this Sunday 26th March on BBC Radio Ulster. This show looks like fun and it also looks like a chance to learn more about the story of the blues from a woman who knows her stuff. From Etta James to Bessie Smith, we’ll be given the chance to hear diamonds from way down deep in the BBC Radio Ulster archives, chosen specially by Hawkins herself.
Music runs deep for Hawkins. Her heroines and heroes will be centre stage in these shows, as will the stories that go along with her choices, as she explains. “My journey through blues and soul has been heart breaking and exciting so trying to fit my favourite tracks into a 30-minute show is making me research the music all over again – from the artists that I love, to choosing the right songs so that people can understand why I love blues and soul so much. I will be playing songs from those who have influenced me most in my own music and telling some cool stories to go with them about the places I have been to.”
“Like Etta James who will open the show, and the pilgrimage I made to the very place she recorded her music. Hopefully listeners will relive those memories with me and perhaps they will be inspired, or just dance or sing to the music. From local legends to international legends of blues, soul and rock’n’roll one thing is for sure, I’m gonna have fun with it.”
It’s going to be a bit of a transition for the performer whose natural habitat is on stage in front of a live audience. “I’m loving it, though I think I could drive my producer Ralph McLean insane. He’s very patient with me as talking into a mic at the BBC is a completely different format to singing and telling my stories to a theatre full of people, but I do like to challenge myself so I hope listeners like it too.”
Series producer Ralph McLean adds: “I’ve known Kaz for years now and I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone as passionate about soul and blues and the power of music to change lives. She feels these great songs deeply and that voice is just magical. She’s a natural behind the mic as well even though this is her first go at presenting. She’s a star and the love she has for this music is infectious.” Kaz Hawkins Got The Blues is a McLean Media production for BBC Radio Ulster.
Begins Sunday 26 March – BBC Radio Ulster, 6.30pm – bbc.co.uk/radioulster