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Face of the Day

THERE aren't many singers who can boast being awarded an MBE for ''services to jazz'', but then Carol Kidd is no ordinary singer.

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This feisty Glaswegian songstress has wowed audiences the world over with her swinging style and pure, clear vocals. And she has counted among her admirers one of her own idols, Frank Sinatra. Carol Kidd was born and brought up in Glasgow's East End, and was, she says, always singing. In a 1995 Herald interview, she said: ''I come from a big family, and had the old tenement style of upbringing where you had all your cousins and your aunties and your uncles living around and about you. We were always having get-togethers and sing-songs and I was the life and soul of every party - from the age of four''. The greatest single influence on Kidd was her mother who ''absolutely lived for the movies'', and in particular for musicals. She encouraged her daughter to enter the local talent contests which were all the rage. Kidd had only one serious contender for the first prize in these contests - another East End 10-year-old who later changed her name to Lulu. At the age of 15, Kidd joined the West Coast Jazz Band. The other band members were all aged about 20, and Kidd had to be chaperoned everywhere, until she married the trombonist George Kidd. By the time she was 19, she had two children and was singing seven nights a week. Not only was her routine exhausting, but she found that the trad jazz genre had a limiting effect on her singing. She said: ''It can become quite tedious. There's not much you can do with numbers like Bill Bailey, and I really wanted to sing proper songs, so the band didn't really suit me.'' In the 1980s, after a temporary retirement, Kidd landed a regular gig at a Glasgow hotel. This proved to be the launch pad for her career. Working with a regular band allowed her to forge a relationship with the individual musicians, in particular the pianist Sandy Taylor. From the larger band emerged the trio of Taylor, bassist Alec Moore, and drummer Murray Smith, and with them Kidd began to carve a niche for herself in the jazz scene. In 1984, Kidd and Murray Smith clubbed together to finance her first album. The master tape was sent to Linn Products to be pressed, and they were so taken with it that they offered to take it over and pay for a follow-up. As her name became known, Kidd began to command larger audiences and found herself booked into larger venues. When her marriage ended, Kidd left Scotland and settled in Cambridge. She recorded her 1990 album The Night We Called It a Day with a new band which included Scottish pianist David Newton. It was this CD that impressed Sinatra and persuaded him to perform at Ibrox in 1990. Since then, Kidd has recorded on average an album a year and has toured extensively. Part of the reason for her success is her accessibility, both in terms of her music and her bubbly stage personality, which is allowed to run riot when she's on her home turf.

Carol Kidd is interviewed on Jazz Notes (Radio 3, 11.30pm) tonight and performs on Jazz Notes on Tuesday and Wednesday night. (both at 11.30pm).

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