ON Tuesday 29 October, Sarah Jane Morris comes to The Coronet Theatre in Notting Hill, London to pay homage to the musical genius of the late, great John Martyn.
Playing for three nights with talented guitarists Tony Remy and Tim Cansfield, Sarah Jane will sing tracks from her acclaimed album Sweet Little Mystery – The Songs of John Martyn. The show, directed by comedian and activist Mark Thomas, will also include unreleased video footage of Martyn – as well as interviews with family, friends and fellow musicians.
Three unmissable nights at The Coronet Theatre – tickets cost a maximum £30 and can be bought via: https://www.thecoronettheatre.com/whats-on/sweet-little-mystery/book/
Close-up Culture caught up with Sarah Jane ahead of her appearance.
Q: You must be delighted with the critics’ response to your Sweet Little Mystery album?
A: YES, we are delighted with the response to Sweet Little Mystery, especially from ‘real’ John Martyn fans who have embraced it and know we have made this album from love and respect.
Q: What was the trigger for the album? Was John an influence on your career? Are there any parallels between the two of you?
A: I FIRST came across John Martyn when I was 14 and he was 24. I tuned into The Old Grey Whistle Test and heard him sing May You Never – just for me! I developed a teenage crush. His music became the backdrop to my 20s, 30s and 40s – and when I turned 50 he died aged 60. He died far too young.
I first covered John’s I Don’t Wanna Know on my Fallen Angel album in 1997 and I’ve been singing it as an encore at every concert since. For my first project as a now 60 year old myself, I wanted to pay homage to him by revisiting his songs and celebrating his genius as a songwriter. John was a baritone and so am, so it felt very natural taking his songs and running with them.
Both John and I are musical outsiders, not fitting into an easy category, I think our voices would have been amazing together.
Q: I know you travel a lot. Have you taken the album overseas – to Italy for example where you are much loved? A positive reaction?
A: YES, I’m currently in Germany where I am about to do a two hour concert ‘live ‘on radio of John’s songs. John was well known and loved here. In Italy he wasn’t so well known but the press, TV and radio coverage has been great and my audience trusts my judgement. I feel sure it has bought a new audience to his music.
Q: The Coronet Theatre has undergone a makeover since its cinema days. Are you pleased to see it reaching out to theatre and live music?
A: I AM delighted to be performing at The Coronet Theatre. I think it is very positive that it is encouraging music, new plays, dance – as it’s a great location.
Q: Where else are you taking Sweet Little Mystery to?
A: I TOOK the album to Edinburgh festival where we were given The Lustrum Award for best of the fest.
We take the album to Italy again this Autumn and earlier in the year went to Austria and Germany. Next Spring we go to Ireland and do a UK tour.
Q: What else lies ahead for you in the run up to Xmas. More concerts? Working on a new album? Any new projects?
A: I HAVE many concerts lined up in the UK and Italy in the run up to Xmas.
Next year I’m working with the Solis Quartet on a theatre/music project about the man who killed John Lennon. It requires a very different approach to The Beatles songs and is based in Italy.
I hope to be based in Rome for several months next year so that I am on fewer airplanes. As a supporter of Extinction Rebellion I have to take that [air travel] seriously. I’ve started writing the next album with Antonio Forcione and a new album with my band (Remy and Cansfield).
So many projects I want to do in my 60s whilst my voice is at its very best.