The STORY

I have replaced my stage name Claire Phoenix (of 13 years) for my birth name of Claire McAllister.

Welcome to my new website.

I am the daughter of professional musicians and grew up writing songs and learning flute and violin for a while.  Alongside teaching languages I ran my successful function band for 10 years, The Claire Phoenix Band (www.phoenixmusic.org and www.clairephoenix.co.uk). During that time I recorded three live albums and was winner of the vocalist section of the PureSolo competition in association with Jazz FM in 2010. I have worked with many jazz ensembles at festivals, music clubs and private functions and over the years found myself more and more drawn towards learning the art form of jazz so completed a Masters in Jazz Performance at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama (2014-16). I have studied with Ian Shaw, Liane Carroll, Sara Colman, Lee Gibson, Scott Stroman, Martin Hathaway, Carlos Lopez-Real and Trevor Tomkins to name a few.

A single mother of three, as my children have become more independent I have found time to devote to writing my debut album and cultivating my love of poetry and writing.

The MUSIC

After spending 13 years performing in function bands, jazz bands and duos in a huge range of venues both private and public and singing material from pop through jazz standards to contemporary jazz I am delighted to welcome you to my own compositions with my debut album.

I am influenced by classical and jazz music but am very drawn to contemporary jazz/folk such as Lauren Kinsella; singer-songwriters such as David Sylvian, Kate Bush and Laura Mvula and spoken word poets performing sometimes to music such as Kate Tempest and Selena Godden.

The themes of this album are Belonging/Not Belonging; Finding your voice and Not having a Voice. These are universal themes, particularly for those experiencing displacement and of course, in our personal search for purpose and meaning in life.

Sometimes you have something to say and you’re not allowed to say it, sometimes you have a forum and find you have no voice. Belonging and not belonging are powerful human states which can affect us deeply and I guess we are all looking for home on different levels. Perhaps home is ultimately related to how we feel inside.

I hope that the songs have some meaning and that you can connect on some level with them.

The music for the song They was influenced by listening to Debussy’s Clair de Lune and the words reflect feelings of inadequacy such as when you feel that everyone knows something you don’t or you just feel a bit of an alien.

Illuminate is about standing up to the truth and saying what needs to be said. I think with recent immigration and displacement of communities fleeing from war in their own homes and then tragically facing political opposition to resettlement elsewhere it’s a cry out to do what needs to be done, stand up and help our fellow human beings.

Voiceless was originally written to accompany a Rumi poem but is now about how you find yourself, know yourself and find your voice. What if you can’t find your voice? What does that mean?

Stars in Your Pocket is written about my three children.

New Sandwich is inspired by Jose.

Call Out for the Nice People is written about witnessing smug, ignorant people who stay in their own little comfort zone and just do what suits them without questioning themselves at all.  They have no empathy for others.

Outside, Looking In is about not belonging, being an outsider. It’s about never being part of the ‘club’ whatever that might represent. It’s about maybe eventually finding yourself and finding a place where you are happy. Then maybe you decide you don’t need the club after all.

In-Between Years is a poem about how people follow what they think they should do. About how we listen to others’ voices a little too much, get affected by others’ thoughts about us a little too much and then we make wrong decisions and are finally not comfortable in our own skin because we’ve taken on the skin of others.

I am accompanied by Giuliano Parisi on piano, Julio Fuster on bass and Pere Munuera on drums. Recording Elefante studios, Valencia, Spain; mixing and mastering by Digby Smith at TQ1 studios Devon, England.

I’m enormously grateful to all those who have and continue to support my efforts.

Music tracks

Songs from the album Caminos

Videos

Gigs

Deja Brew Cafe, Colchester, Essex
8pm on 11th October 2018
c/o Sophiemusic Productions

The POETRY

I am really drawn to poet/singer-songwriters such as Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell. While writing my album I started studying poetry to be able to write good lyrics and say what I really mean. I feel sometimes songs are let down by weak lyrics.

For me the marriage of poetry, music and voice is a perfect one. Then it’s not about the singer singing a good song well but rather the words, voice and music coming together to carry a message potently from the heart, that is, the sum of the parts is greater than the individual components.

This poem I wrote is influenced by William Carlos Williams’s So Much Depends upon a Red Wheelbarrow. I love the idea of making the ordinary extraordinary or trying to paint a picture with words.

So Much Depends Upon a Black Dog © Claire McAllister

So much depends upon

A black dog

Sleeping

In the afternoon
Sun

Fur
Glistening

Stony mountain
Looking on

Busy Saturday people
Chatty sparrows, thrushes
Raucous seagulls

A
Black dog and
Mountain

Immutable

I Am Poem © Claire McAllister

I am the words from the mouth
of your spirit

surging upwards
and outwards

clean and pure.

I only want to say it
as it is
as it was
my writers’ experience
expressed
in me with me through me.

Then I lay bare

looking upwards
at the downwards

glance of my reader
hoping for recognition
written on their face

mirroring me

Then my writer
has met my reader
and I
the vessel
have carried them together
to meet
forever.

This poem is about Carmen Herrera, great minimalist painter, unrecognised through her career because of being a woman where her male peers were finding success.  She finally started receiving acknowledgment at 89 years old. Blanco Y Verde is one of her pieces.

Blanco Y Verde (White and Green) © Claire McAllister

I took my lines and colours
to Rose Freid’s gallery


she saw breasts
stains
and Motherhood


You took your lines and colours
to Rose Freid’s gallery


she saw success
money
and Belonging


I walked home and painted for fifty years


You stayed out in the sun with journalists and photographers


In two thousand and fifteen
I had my first three figure birthday
You died.

Blanco y Verde
is sitting out in the
sun
of the new millennium.

Frozen Memory © Claire McAllister

icy wind blows
up the winding staircase
to the young girl sitting on the top stair
chills her back
sends rivulets of cold air
along the back of her head
held
motionless
watching
a warm orange glow
of laughter
and music
coming from the
Christmas bedroom
across the landing

Contact Claire

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For house concerts and venue bookings please call Claire on:
+34 693 503 750 or
email: contact@clairemcallister.com