The First Lady of British Jazz, Claire Martin, has won eight British Jazz Awards and was awarded an O.B.E. in 2011.
Linn recording artist and BBC Radio 3 presenter Claire Martin has spent the last 3 decades honing the craft of jazz singing. To worldwide critical acclaim she has established herself as a tour de force on the UK jazz scene gaining many awards, including winning the British Jazz Awards eight times along the way.
Thanks to her jazz-loving parents, Claire grew up in a household full of great music. After leaving stage school she became a professional singer at 19 and two years later she realised her dream of singing at Ronnie Scott’s legendary jazz club in Soho. Signed to the prestigious Glasgow based Linn Records in 1990, Claire has since released 18 albums with the label, collaborating with musical luminaries including Martin Taylor, John Martyn, Stephane Grappelli, Kenny Barron, Richard Rodney Bennett and Jim Mullen on many of these recordings.
Claire has performed all over the world with her trio and, until his death in 2012, worked extensively with the celebrated composer and pianist Sir Richard Rodney Bennett in an intimate cabaret duo setting both in England and in America where they played to sell out crowds at venues including the prestigious Algonquin Hotel in New York City. Claire is also a featured soloist with the Halle Orchestra, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, the RTE Concert Orchestra, the Royal Northern Sinfonia, the BBC Big Band and the BBC Concert Orchestra. She has co-presented BBC Radio 3’s flag ship jazz program ‘Jazz Line Up’ since 2000 and has interviewed many of her musical heroes such as Pat Metheny and the late Michael Brecker. Her 2009 album A Modern Art prompted Jazz Times USA to claim: 'She ranks among the four or five finest female jazz vocalists on the planet'.
Claire was thrilled to win both the 2009 and 2010 'Best Vocalist’ category at the British Jazz Awards and toured extensively throughout the UK, Scandinavia, Russia and China, appearing with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and her world-class trio. 2011 proved to be an extraordinary year for Claire who made her debut at the Lincoln Center in New York with Grammy nominated pianist Bill Charlap and went on to perform for the third time at the famous Algonquin Hotel for a three week residency with Sir Richard Rodney Bennett. Their album Witchcraft gained much critical acclaim and was 'unequivocally recommended' by Jazzwise magazine. At the Queen’s Birthday Honours in June, Claire was delighted to be awarded an OBE for her Services to Jazz.
In August 2011 Claire recorded with legendary jazz pianist Kenny Barron and an all-star American line up for her fifteenth album for Linn records. Too Much in Love to Care received 5 star reviews and prompted the US magazine Jazz Journal to state that she is 'one of the finest jazz singers in the world today'. This album went on to win the 'Best New Recording’ award at the 2012 British Jazz Awards. 2013 was spent touring the new material in the UK and Europe and embarking on a new show 'The Two of Us' with conductor John Wilson, Joe Stilgoe, Mark McGann and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, celebrating the music of Paul McCartney and John Lennon.
In 2014 Claire embarked on a new and unique musical adventure with the Brighton based Montpellier Cello Quartet. With new arrangements especially written for her by Sir Richard Rodney Bennett, Mark Anthony Turnage and Django Bates, this new chamber jazz ensemble toured the UK promote a new album on Linn Records called Time and Place. The album was warmly received and Clive Davis of The Times cited Claire as 'our finest jazz singer'.
2016 was spent touring and promoting Claire’s brand new project with the legendary singer/saxophonist Ray Gelato. With the swinging Dave Newton trio the pair will release their Linn recording We’ve Got a World That Swings in May and play UK theatres and festivals throughout the coming year. Claire will also be appearing this year with the singer pianist Joe Stilgoe, the award-winning vocalist Liane Carroll and the nine-piece outfit which features the Tippet Quartet called 'Hollywood Romance’.
In 2018 Claire was awarded a Gold Badge Award by the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors (BASCA). Presented by the songwriting and composing community, the Gold Badge Awards celebrate exceptional talent in the UK music industry; individuals who inspire or support creativity and the professional lives of BASCA members. One month later Claire won her eighth British Jazz Award, as she was announced as the winner in the 'Best Vocalist' category.
Her next album will feature her all-Swedish trio who made their UK debut at Ronnie Scott’s legendary London jazz club with Claire in 2018. It provided an exciting first chance for fans to preview material for Claire’s twentieth album which will be released by Linn in 2019. Uppsala-born pianist/arranger Martin Sjöstedt leads the trio comprising bassist Niklas Fernqvist and drummer Daniel Fredriksson.
Claire Martin lives in Brighton with her husband and daughter.