Bright red lips and brilliant voices could be the key to stardom for a North East singing group. DAVID WHETSTONE gets the lowdown on Scarlet Street
NOT only a new vocal harmony group but a new musical genre will be unveiled before a, hopefully, receptive public at the end of the week. Actually, the group – Scarlet Street – was formed earlier this year by Jennifer Davies.
But, in launching their debut EP – Barberpop – on Friday, the girls are also introducing what they believe to be a unique fusion of 1940s-style harmony singing and contemporary pop.
“I put the band together in about January so it hasn’t been going long,” says Jennifer, who is 29 and lives in Newcastle.
“I did it because, basically, I love the retro barbershop type of music and also pop music. I put the two together and, so far, it has proved very popular.”
Jennifer ran a more conventional barbershop group before Scarlet Street came along, but a few forays into contemporary pop at weddings signalled the way forward.
“The response was brilliant,” she says. “It was very well received.”
Jennifer is keen to point out that Scarlet Street are not just a quartet of “pop princesses strutting around the stage”.
“We’re proper musicians who can read music, but we can also produce a pop sound. Once we get a recording contract we’ll be doing this all the time.”
That’s confidence backed by the reception Scarlet Street has enjoyed at its few gigs to date.
Scarlet Street are Jennifer and friends Zita Frith, Rosie Winter and Rachel Cook.
Jennifer did a performing arts degree at Northumbria University, graduating in 2006, and has been working as a singer ever since.
“I also direct lots of children’s choirs and have taught in South Tyneside and Sunderland,” she explains.
“Actually, I’m in a primary school now, sorting out their Christmas production.”
Jennifer met Rachel through her younger brother, Adam Hastings. Both Adam and Rachel were studying at Leeds College of Music when Jennifer spotted a kindred spirit.
A word or two on the other members of this talented family: Adam was in the news last year when he took over the John Lennon role in long-established Beatles tribute band the Bootleg Beatles. Dad George Hastings, meanwhile, is conductor and creative director of The SoundPower Orchestra – a North East-based band of top freelance musicians.
Jennifer and Rachel were singing at a wedding at Lumley Castle in County Durham, with their original barbershop quartet, when they met Zita, who was performing with her function band, Funk Conspiracy.