Rebecca Poole returns to Henley CollegeBy Caroline Cook
January 10, 2013
Jazz singer Rebecca Poole is returning to her old college for a special concert this month.
Caroline Cook caught up with the modern Forces’ Sweetheart
It would appear that Rebecca Poole has been born in the wrong decade.
With her blonde hair curled and pinned to one side and a voice which conjures images of dancehalls and vintage tea dresses, the pretty Berkshire singer could have stepped straight out of the 1940s.
A modern Forces’ Sweetheart, Rebecca is the newest face on the jazz scene and she has been turning music industry heads with her nostalgic sound.
“Sometimes I feel like an old lady, but I would much rather be listening to Nat King Cole on my gramophone than Jessie J,” she laughs.
Rebecca, a former pupil at Henley College, will return to her old stomping ground next week to perform with pupils at The Kenton Theatre.
She first got into what she calls ‘the crooners’ in her late school years and credits singers like Julie London, Peggy Lee and Ella Fitzgerald as her inspiration.
“I have been writing songs since I was a little girl and I performed in lots of plays and things, but I didn’t immediately think ‘I’m going to be a singer.’
“That didn't come until later. It took me a while to pluck up the courage,” she says.
“I was probably about 13 when I heard Feeling Good by Nina Simone and I fell in love with that bittersweet sound.
“I like the romance and the way some of it is laced with tragedy. I love the big band sounds as well, the kind of music that raises the hairs on your arms.”
With her love of the big band Rebecca jumped at the chance to record a single with the Red, White and Blue Band of the Royal Air Force last year.
She wrote and performed This Is The Song, a wartime love song, which was released as a Remembrance Day tribute to raise money for Help for Heroes.
“I wrote the song and took it to James Pearson at Ronnie Scotts,” she says. “He said he wanted to do a big band thing with it and I thought it would be incredible if the RAF could help and we could raise money for Help for Heroes.
“The song was inspired by Vera Lynn and We’ll Meet Again.
“It was such a patriotic year last year with the Jubilee and Olympics and it was creating that feeling that music does bring us all together.
“That’s what the concert is all about too.”
Rebecca will be headlining the concert, To Remind Us, with support from students at the college.
“I have just been to see the students and it was really lovely to see what they wanted to do and what sort of music they want to perform,” she says.
“I’m really honoured and surprised that I could be part of giving them such an exciting project.
“All the songs in the show are very personal to me and I asked the students to choose songs that remind them of someone very important in their lives.”
The concert will also be raising funds for Help for Heroes, which Rebecca says is a charity close to her heart.
“I don’t have a relation in the forces, but I have met lots of ladies who have partners in Afghanistan. I was very moved by that and I just wanted to do something,” she says.
“I grew up in a family that has quite old school feelings about the war and how important it is to remember.”
The Henley concert will be Rebecca’s first of the year, following a busy 2012 which saw her perform at the Royal Albert Hall, The Henley Festival, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Royal Polo Party and at the opening of a World Cup qualifier at Wembley.
Her delicate jazz voice has been hugely popular, winning over young and old, and tying in with a boom in all things vintage over the last few years.
“I think life is moving very fast with all the social networking and things.
“Everything is very accessible and I think people are reaching out to these simpler times and enjoying the music of that era too.”
To Remind Us will be performed at the Kenton Theatre in Henley on Thursday, January 17. Tickets are £5. To book visit www.henleycol.ac.uk/rebecca