Music interview: Terri-Ann Prendergast

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Singer/songwriter Terri-Ann Prendergast is about to launch her second EP. She spoke to Julie Marshall about her music and her inspiration.

At the end of July, Scarborough-born singer Terri-Ann Prendergast will be performing her songs in front of thousands of music fans at Camp Bestival in Dorset - her biggest gig to date.

The festival is the family-friendly alternative to the mighty Bestival and an opportunity the 25-year-old has been waiting for since she was a little girl and writing songs on the back of her school textbooks.

“I just want as many people as possible to hear my songs,” she says. “I have a small following on Youtube, Instagram and Twitter but I want to be involved in as many performance opportunities as I can. There will be 30,000 people at Camp Besitval, though obviously not all of them will be listening to me, and it’s a great opportunity.”

Terri-Ann, who now lives in Wakefield, has been singing, dancing and acting her whole life. She attended a dance school in Scarborough,completed a BA Honours degree in Performance and then went on to have professional theatre training with USA-based theatre company; The Gravity Project.

Roles in a number of plays and musicals were followed by a spell scaring tourists as a ghoul in the York Dungeon before she decided that she wanted to pursue a career in music.

“Sometimes you decide you just want to go for something. At the time I was working four jobs: cleaning offices in a morning, working as a sales assistant in a shop, behind the bar on an evening and cleaning houses at weekends,” she says. “So, in 2013 I quit all my jobs and set up my own business so I could make singing my full-time career.”

She’d already achieved a modicum of success by this time. She released her debut single Mask of Sanity in 2011 and Smile Again was released early in 2012 - both were produced by Ollie Green who has worked with artists such as Lady Gaga and Josh Devine.

The tracks caught the attention of BBC Introducing and she performed live on BBC Radio York. She has written songs that have been used commercially, including the song This is Your Future for Futureworks Yorkshire.

During the day Terri-Ann visits nursing and care homes all over Yorkshire with her vintage show, singing for the elderly residents and getting them to take part in the performances with her.

She says: “The residents love it and they get a lot out of it, especially as many of them suffer from dementia.

“ I sing a lot of the wartime songs and because they are rooted so deep in their memory they really respond. We try and get as many of them up from their chairs dancing.

“In setting up the business I was helped by The Prince’s Trust. They’ve given me some fabulous performance opportunities at impressive venues such as The Beverly Minster, Leeds Grand Theatre and Harewood House as well as some business support to help with things like taxes, marketing and promotion.”

Terri-Ann’s evenings and weekends are spent touring the country performing at pubs, parties and weddings for, she says ,“anyone who needs a singer” and she has taught herself to play guitar. “I also perform a lot of my own material and now I can accompany myself on guitar, she says.”

Terri-Ann has put together her own band (bass, electric guitar and drums - she plays acoustic guitar and vocals) and they had their first outing at Scarborough’s Staxtonbury Festival earlier this month which went down well. And last Sunday she appeared on the acoustic stage at the Oakwell Festival in Gomersal.

Her first EP of original material was released last year. Called Intricate, the songs are based on Terri-Ann’s experiences, were written over a six-month period and are deeply personal.

She says: “They all really mean something to me, a few are based on negative things but I’ve turned them around and given them a positive message.

“Music has been a great source of strength for me growing up and I wanted to input that into the Intricate EP.

“Music is a universal language that conveys emotion everyone can understand, I love it so much and I want to share my version with the world.”

The four track EP has had favourable reviews and was described as “dazzling” by Yorkshire Coast Radio and “beautifully lyrically honest”.

It’s difficult to pinpoint which genre Terri-Ann’s music fits into - even she struggles to define her sound. It has been variously described as pop, R & B, soul, folk and country but critics have said she has an original and distinctive voice and her songs are solid and well produced.

All the proceeds of her first album have been donated to breast cancer research and £700 has been raised so far.

Terri-Ann’s mum is still receiving treatment for the disease and her daughter, who moved back home to Scarborough for a year when she was diagnosed, is keen to do all she can to raise money for research.

Terri-Ann’s second EP Straight Forward is to be launched on July 24 at Henry Boon’s pub, Westgate, Wakefield. “It is still based on real-life experiences,” she says, “ but this time I’ve tried to have a bit more fun with it.”

North Yorkshire singer/songwriter Josh Westward is supporting Terri-Ann at the launch, as is The Simon Walker Band from Dewsbury, both are solo acoustic artists.

Terri-Ann’s partner Matthew McDonald is compering the event and her proud mum and dad will be in the audience.

As with the majority of emerging artists the internet and social media has played a key role in her success. She has a very professional website and regularly posts music and videos on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube.

Terri-Ann works incredibly hard and has a real ++trepreneurial flair - she’s also very well-grounded

Blonde and bubbly but not at all pretentious she obviously loves what she does.

“I still have the songs I wrote in my school books when I was at primary school, complete with the melody lines and I can still sing them, she says. “I’ve always loved writing poetry - sometimes it’s easier to write than it is to talk