Festival interview: Sarah Jane Morris
A restless childhood has kept Sarah Jane Morris on her musical toes. She tells us that retiring is not really an option
This article is from 2015.
Sarah Jane Morris is still best-known as Jimmy Somerville’s co-vocalist on the Communards’ 1986 smash hit, ‘Don’t Leave Me This Way’. But her long, vibrant and varied career also includes fronting numerous bands playing blues, Latin, folk and jazz, roles in musicals and other stage work, modelling, voiceovers, activism and several trips to the Fringe.
Morris is so enamoured with Edinburgh that she’s already eyeing it up as a retirement destination. This from a woman who has lived in 36 houses in her lifetime and admits that ‘as a musician, you don’t really get to retire, you just carry on until you drop’.
She puts her restless questing down to an itinerant upbringing. ‘My dad was one of those people who always pushed his luck and we’d often move in the middle of the night because the receivers would be coming to take all our furniture. It was a precarious childhood but it prepared me for life as a musician where you don’t know where you’re going to end up. And it’s a hell of a lot to be able to call on as a songwriter.’
Morris came relatively late to songwriting but she’s justifiably proud of her latest album which will form the backbone of her Fringe gigs. Bloody Rain is a suite of originals and covers inspired by the sounds and social issues of Africa, from state-sanctioned homophobia to forced marriage.
Crowdfunding allowed her to pay for an impressive musical guest-list including the Soweto Gospel Choir, Senegal’s Seckou Keita and Zimbabwean singer Eska. ‘I’ve found that the best way to get anything across is to seduce with the music,’ she says. ‘When you hit people across the head with politics it doesn’t do any good.’
Sarah Jane Morris: Bloody Rain, Assembly Rooms, George Street, 0844 693 3008, 13–15 Aug, 1.45pm, £12.