Imelda May Higham is a rising star in the Rockabilly world who impressed Jools Holland so much he was implemental in getting her signed to a record label. She also performed on stage at the Grammys and had great success with her first album Love Tattoo.
Imelda grew up in Dublin and came from a very musical background, although she only started to get notice a few years ago she told The Hour that she has been working on her act for a long time.
She said: “I’ve been gigging away since I was about 16-years-old, I did pubs, clubs, functions, anything really, but the last three years I started my own band and it all went crazy.
“I should have started my own band a long time ago, I always had my own songs I wasn’t sure if I had the nerve to do them. But, I thought if I don’t do it now I never will.” Imelda added.
This decision worked out well for Imelda May and her band as after a chance encounter with Jools Holland in 2008 she has performed all over the world and received critical acclaim for her album Love Tattoo.
She said: “Jools Holland was absolutely great, we opened for him for one gig, he really liked us and we got a whole tour opening for him. He even bought one of our CDs.
“He asked who we were signed with, we weren’t sign by anyone. We had tried to get signed but no one was interested so I made my album by myself, like a good stubborn Irish girl.” Imelda joked.
Jools Holland expressed a wish to get Imelda on his show and her opportunity arose when Natalie Cole, an artist due to appear on the show, fell ill. Imelda was called and told she had two days to get over form her home in Ireland to appear on the show. Legendary performer Jeff Beck was present fro her performance and gave her great support.
Imelda said: “He was asked ‘who are you here to see?’, they were probably expecting him to say Dave Gilmore from Pink Floyd but he said I’m here to see Imelda May and my family, you could almost hear them from over the water screaming ‘yaaaaass!!’.”
Imelda grew up in a small house in Dublin with her mother, father and four siblings. It was here that she discovered her passion for music being influenced by all the different types of music played by her family.
She said: “I listened to everything, my brother listened to Gene Vincent, Eddie Cochran and Elvis and then I went mad for that and got into blues and jazz.”
Getting to perform at the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards with Jeff Beck in a tribute to the late guitar legend Les Paul was a high point of Imelda’s career so far, then a dream for her came true when she in headlined at the O2 Arena in Ireland. However, her family are still the most important thing to her.
She said: “Performing with amazing artists and meeting great people is great, but most importantly having my family come and see all those things, I love that because they have always supported me.”
Imelda has been married to the guitarist in her band, Darrel Higham, for 12 years and she has a great time performing and travelling the world with him.
She said: “It’s an ordinary marriage really, sometimes you feel like killing each other and some times you are mad about each other. We just try not to do either of those things in front of the band.
“We are into the same stuff so it’s good that we get to see the world together without having to call the other and describe it to them.” Imelda added.
Imelda May’s new single Mayhem is out on September 13 and her album is out October 4. For more information visit Imelda May’s website.