If you prefer your music automated and ephemeral, you can pick any of the current chart fly-by-nights. If, on the other hand, you admire passionate but down-to-earth artistry, Sophie Garner’s got a few things to sing to you.
After coming through a career-threatening operation on her vocal cords, she’s happy to be able to sing them at all. The English singer-songwriter has put a lifetime of blood, sweat, tears and inspiration into her new album ‘Genes,’ The album contains songs whose poignant lyrics, arresting melodies and surprising, inventive arrangements are distilled both from her own singular life, and from day-by-day settings we can all relate to. It’s imbued with more than 15 years amassed by the Suffolk-born Sophie on the front line as a respected performer and recording artist, and many years of acting work even before that.
Sophie has written film scores and has performed in both film and TV. As a busy artist she has performed in over 2,500 gigs in her career to date. Now she has an album that she’s so proud of, she and her partner and co-writer Paul Hannon have funded it themselves. It draws inspiration from everything and everyone, from Hitchcock to ELP, and from a deep and eclectic record collection that stretches from Stevie Wonder to Siouxsie and the Banshees. But the spirit is uniquely Sophie’s.
Sophie, who also has the distinction of being the first artist to perform at London’s 02 Arena, had started singing professionally at the age of 20, with a gig at Camden’s famous Dublin Castle. Having performed in over 2,500 gigs in her career to date, Sophie is no fly by night one hit wonder… She’s here to stay.
What has been one of the toughest music related experiences you’ve faced?
The toughest experience of my career was having a vocal operation and the time it’s taken to get my full range back, just before I went in for my operation I felt anxiety and panic. It was terrifying.
How did you get through or deal with it?
I tried to focus on the moment and took each day as it came trusting that I would eventually get my voice back. I also spent time quietly meditating and just allowing my body to heal at its own rate. Learning to let go and not fight was the only way really. Setting up VoxOp came out of going through this awful experience and I am really proud that I created something so positive out of a negative experience.
What did you learn?
How strong I am and that I can probably cope with anything that life throws at me.
In 2010 Sophie underwent what can only be described as a musician’s worst nightmare. An operation on her instrument. This was due to a condition known as acid reflux which many singers suffer from. Sophie had unknowing suffered with reflux most of her adult life. The post operative rehabilitation required Sophie to take 3 months of work to recover. This meant a complete loss in finances so the cost both emotionally and financially was devastating.
Sophie discovered there was no emotional support for singers going through this terrifying experience which most singers liken to bereavement. Sophie decided, with the help of her singing teacher and speech and language therapist, to set up VoxOp, the UK’s first and only singer support group for pre and post op singers. VoxOp is a completely free service financed solely by Sophie and her team. Meetings are held once a month in London. Singers of all musical genres attend and VoxOp has a strict confidentiality rule. The support group provides information, an opportunity for singers to discuss their situation and share information with other singers. Guest speakers regularly attend to talk on a voice related subject.
An endorsement and support from PRS and The Musicians Benevolent Fund has now put VoxOp firmly on the map and as a result the support group is now receiving referrals from surgeons and speech and language therapists. Sophie’s work with VoxOp and interest in singer’s health has led her to carry out the first national survey which singers are currently taking part in all over the UK. To take part in the survey and for more information on VoxOp please visit www.voxop.co.uk