Sadie Jemmett knows how to express herself in a way that everyone can appreciate. She’s strong and fearless in her writing, her songs are captivating and emotionally stirring, her vocals beautiful and transcendent. The journey of musical discovery this London-based songstress has taken has been an interesting one. Her ability to transform her essence throughout each song while remaining authentic most likely stems from her bizarre and challenging childhood and wandering adulthood.
Born in a Cambridgeshire Village to actor parents who left her to basically raise herself due to their own issues and inadequacies, Jemmett sought refuge in music and found her own strengths through artistic expression. “I started learning the guitar when I was eleven,” says Jemmett. “I had a pretty unconventional childhood and I had moved around a lot as a kid. A friend of my Mums started teaching me some songs -we went through the whole of the Joan Baez song book, I think – and I found that it was something I could do and was good at and that became like a form of survival for me in a very chaotic world. When I got older and left school, I travelled a lot and always had my guitar with me so very quickly I got into busking and found that this could be a pretty lucrative way of earning a living. I spent two years in Berlin busking on the subway trains, I was like this little blonde urchin teenager with a hat and a guitar and a pocket full of Joni Mitchell songs.”
That urchin traveled throughout Switzerland, Berlin, Spain, Ireland and beyond. She delved into drama courses, wrote songs and poetry and took a variety of eclectic jobs along the way. She joined a touring Theatre company and traveled through Europe and as far as Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, pursuing her music in a variety of forms.
“I guess there wasn’t ever a particular point when I said this is what I want to do,” says Jemmett. “Music had just always been there as a means of survival both emotionally and financially. It is what I do. It’s all I can do.”
In Paris, she won a Moliere award for her collaboration on Resonance at the Teatre d’ Atelier in 2000. She eventually found herself back in London where she recorded her debut album, The Blacksmith’s Girl, a stellar collection of material that reveals her inner spirit and life’s struggles and triumphs. Produced by Grammy Winner David Blanco (Dylan/Cash) and Steve Lee and released on Judy Collin’s Wildflower record label, The Blacksmith’s Girl is a stripped down Acoustic-based album that allows the depth of Jemmett’s lyrics and the emotionality of her vocals to shine. It is obvious Joni Mitchell is a strong influence but it seems her traveling experiences in a variety of cultures have added flavors blended together to form her own unique delivery.
“A lot of my early influences came from my brother Danny,” she says. “He likes to say that he was the youngest punk in England and he probably was! So my earliest memories are of British punk. When I was eleven just as I had started playing guitar, I went to live with a family who had a great collection of music and it was there that I first heard the music that has shaped me most as a songwriter – stuff like Lennon, Dylan, Van Morrison, Neil Young, Leonard Cohen and of course Joni Mitchell. I’ll never forget it. The first time i heard Blue was at their house. Someone had left it on playing in the living room and I heard this incredible voice ringing out from the other side of the house and I followed it like a siren and sat down and listened to the whole album. I remember thinking if someone can be as honest as this with their pain, then there is hope for everyone.”
It is, in fact, that honesty in Jemmett’s own music that resonates so deeply with listeners. There is a beauty that lingers in life struggles and pain that can be evoked through music and initiate self-awareness in the listener. Jemmett has achieved this so wonderfully on her debut album.
She is currently working on production of a new album with a bigger band instrumentation with John McBurnie (Elton John, The Hollies). “On the new album we have drums, fretless bass, sax, guitars, strings, piano… the works!” Jemmet reveals. “The songs have evolved out of the last few years that I have spent living as a single working mother with my daughter in East London and playing on the music circuit. There are a lot of street references to places I’ve lived and worked in London, and a lot of songs about being unlucky in love. I’m hoping that the over all feel of the album will appeal to a broad range of people of different ages and backgrounds. I’m really trying to get a very full, rich, lush and uplifting and almost anthemic feel to the songs – like the oral equivalent of biting into a strawberry tart.”
We look forward to witnessing Jemmett’s further evolution as a songwriter and an artist. In the meantime, do yourself a favor and download The Blacksmith’s Girl HERE. Let it wash over you and help you discover some truths of your own.
~ Aileen Ballard
Outlaw Magazine. Country, Rock and Roll, Blues, Folk, Americana, Punk. As long as it is real, it is OUTLAW. Overproduced mediocrity need not apply.