Upcoming Gigs

Carol at Vortex, April 23rd

With Dorian Ford (piano), Winston Clifford (drums), Alison Rayner (bass) and Annie Whitehead (trombone).

Saturday April 23rd at 8pm. Vortex Jazz Club, 11 Gillett Square, London N16 8AZ. www.vortexjazz.co.uk

A Singer's Tale, Friday 6th May

In The Singer’s Tale Carol weaves together stories – sometimes shady, mad or bad – from the streets of London as a busker outside Ronnie Scott’s, to Nashville, San Francisco, Eastern Europe and beyond… but always with song at its heart.

With Dorian Ford, Alison Rayner and Arike.

Friday 6th May 2016, Folkestone Quarterhouse.

Book tickets at www.quarterhouse.co.uk/whats-on

Other News

The Quarterhouse Women’s Choir, 12th March

For the second year running, Women Of The World comes to a close with a night of uproarious music featuring female artists (full line up to be announced) alongside the Quarterhouse Women’s Choir. The Quarterhouse Women’s Choir, led by Carol Grimes, started at WOW 2015 and focuses on the work of female song writers.

Saturday 12th March 2016, Folkestone Quarterhouse.

Book tickets at www.quarterhouse.co.uk

Carol at Vortex, 26th September

With Dorian Ford (piano), Winston Clifford (drums), Alison Rayner (bass) and Annie Whitehead (trombone).

Saturday 26th September 2015 at 8:00pm. Vortex Jazz Club, 11 Gillett Square, London N16 8AZ. Book tickets.

Busker's bottler sings the blues

Herald Scotland

Carol Grimes might not include I Could Write a Book in her Edinburgh Fringe show, The Singer’s Tale. The London-born survivor of fifty years in the music business would, however, have every right to sing this Rodgers and Hart standard. Indeed, she is currently writing her autobiography after being given encouragement by a literary agent who subsequently disappeared.

“Typical,” says Grimes with a throaty laugh. “My timing has always been abysmal when it comes to business matters, and I know I’m not alone in this regard among musicians. I just like to sing. And write – I’ve been really enjoying getting the story down.”

Read full review

The Singer’s Tale, Edinburgh Fringe

Review in Herald Scotland


Carol Grimes needs longer than a Fringe slot to tell her life story. Heavens, she needs more words than a Fringe review has to accommodate the names she’s gone under, being as she candidly puts it “a bastard” London war baby who was put up for adoption, brought up in Lowestoft, wound up sleeping in Hastings’ caves, busked in Soho, joined a band, married, divorced, married again, and tied the pension authorities in knots trying to decipher who she really was.

To those whose lives Grimes’ singing has touched, she’s one of the UK’s great underappreciated talents and at seventy-one, she hasn’t lost the power to enthral with a blues or a jazz standard or with the song that ended this lunchtime gem so aptly, her friend, the late Sandy Denny’s Who Knows Where the Time Goes.

The Singer’s Tale is by turns charming, funny and a little sad without looking for pity. Grimes is a trouper, a survivor and with Dorian Ford’s splendid piano accompaniment and occasional added harmonica, she variously defies and takes encouragement from a sizable cast of alliteratively named alter egos – Betty Bluesbelter, Procrastinating Patsy et al – to follow her dreams and get through some nightmares. The triumphs are underplayed – she’s happy being a non-celebrity – the laughs are genuine, and the voice really should have become better known.

Carol at The Map Café, 10th July


Friday 10th July 2015, at The Map Café, Kentish Town London. 8:00pm. £10.00.

The Singer's Tale brings together songs from Carol's vast archive of memories, bringing a large slice of British Blues/Soul/Jazz history, together with places, people and the changing times.

This is a show with a difference – a moving account of a woman's journey, sung with passion and humour.

Singer/songwriter/poet Carol Grimes has teamed up with the huge talent of pianist Dorian Ford – together they are playing this year's Edinburgh Festival. So be sure to catch this one-off performance of the duo version of their show.

Carol at the Edinburgh Festival


22nd - 24th August at 1.45pm

“Carol Grimes, the Piaf singer/songwriter of British music. This raw, in your face sublime performer takes you with her on a musical journey through her extraordinary life.

“The Singers Tale weaves its stories, sometimes shady, mad and bad, but with music and song at their heart. Street busker to Ronnie Scotts, from Notting Hill to Nashville and Memphis to San Francisco from Hackney to Texas and Eastern Europe, but always returning to London.”

22nd - 24th August 2015, 1.45pm at The Assembly Rooms (ballroom), 54 George Street, Edinburgh EH2 2LR. Book at www.arfringe.com.

Carol at Lauderdale House

Thursday, 14th May at 8.30pm

“Singer Carol has lived a rich and varied musical life which began with busking on the streets of London as a teenager. She performed at the first Glastonbury Festival and was a member of the ground-breaking classical choir, The Shout. Carol is unique with a career in jazz, blues, soul and poetry and is always one of our most popular performers.”

Carol Grimes (vocals), Annie Whitehead (trombone), Dorian Dord (piano), Neville Malcomb (bass) & tba (drums)

Thursday 14th May 2015, 8.30pm at Lauderdale House, Waterlow Park, Highgate Hill, London N6 5HG. Tickets: £10 or £9 (concessions).

Book on 020 8348 8716 or at www.lauderdalehouse.org.uk.

Carol on Midweek

Listen to Carol on Midweek (BBC Radio Four) with Libby Purves. First broadcast on 18th February 2015.

Preview/Interview: The Singer's Tale

London Jazz News, 13th February 2015

Carol Grimes was one of the very first performers to appear at St James Studio (preview from 2012). In this new interview with Sebastian, she talked about the first outings of her new autobiographical project “The Singer's Tale,” for which she will return to St James Studio with performances on Feb 9th and 26th 2015.

LondonJazz News: What does the show consist of?

Carol Grimes: Songs, little beat poetry, it's a tale interlaced with songs, a lot of them written by Dorian Ford and myself. It's in two halves with an interval. Maggie Ford is directing. Neville Malcolm is on bass, Winston Clifford drums, Annie Whitehead trombone and Dorian Ford piano.

LJN: And the title?

CG: I nicked it from Chaucer – he never wrote a tale about a singer, but he travelled through South East London, knew it, trod the same paths I trod.

Read full article here

Review: The Singer's Tale

St James Studio, 9th February 2015

Large slices of British jazz history are disappearing. The music itself is documented, but the accounts of how it was made and the world for which it was performed are fading because they exist only in the frailest of formats – memory. So when an event like Carol Grimes’ The Singer’s Tale comes along, it forms an invaluable document.

For anyone who lived through the period from the early 60s on the London jazz scene, it will recall events, venues and people long gone, but which form ldquo;names to conjure with”, summoning up memories and recreating events and feelings with a that power goes way beyond nostalgia into reliving. For anyone who didn’t live through it, here is an account of the life of a talented but uneducated woman and mother who did not fit easily into musical categories. Documents on women in British Jazz and Rock – and of their treatment by the almost exclusively male scenes where they were often treated as props rather than musicians – are rare, and this sometimes harrowing, sometimes hilarious look at life is probably unique.

Read full article here

The Singers Tale: Carol Grimes - the “Edith Piaf” of British music

By Sebastian Taylor, Camden Review, 5th February 2015


Carol Grimes, the “Edith Piaf” of British music, is singing about her extraordinary life in The Singer’s Tale at St James Theatre’s studio next Monday evening.

Part dramatisation of her life story, part jazz gig, she’s singing with her collaborator/pianist Dorian Ford, fabulous trombonist Annie Whitehead, bass player “Level-Neville” Malcolm and leading drummer Winston Clifford.

In the prologue to his Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer wrote: He could sing songs make and well endite.

“Well, Chaucer didn‘t get round to recounting a Singer‘s Tale – so here‘s mine,” she says.

Songs, stories and anecdotes in her Singer‘s Tale take the audience through her life from street busker to Ronnie Scott‘s; from Notting Hill to Nashville; from Memphis to San Francisco; and from Hackney to Texas and Eastern Europe.

Accompanying musicians are brought in as the Grimes journey moves from place to place, be it pubs, village halls, theatres, cafés, festivals.

No place has been too small or too large to accommodate Carol Grimes, often bedecked with most striking hair-dos. Although her singing journey has been international, she’s always returned to London. And it’s in London where she’s been such a terrific influence on the lives of numerous putative jazz singers through her City Lit classes.

Now she’s still making a positive influence on the lives of people with Parkinson’s Disease, motor-neurone and other disabilities through her Sing for Joy groups in Kentish Town and Holborn.

Carol at St James Studio, February 2015

Carol Grimes, the 'Piaf' songstress of British music — this raw, in your face, sublime performer — takes you on a musical journey through her extraordinary life.

The Singer's Tale weaves its stories — sometimes shady, mad and bad — but with music and song at their heart.

“Carol Grimes has a fascinating story to tell. She also has a command of shaping and delivering words, a performance sense, and the musical and human depth and warmth to really make something of this. The story pulls in songs that reference times of her life. This project has such a strong heart, it really could go anywhere as it develops. Dorian Ford has no music, just her words in front of him. His ability to match mood or word with chord or line, to evoke the ghosts of songs past is a revelation too.” (review by Sebastian Scotney)

Like Geoffrey Chaucer’s pilgrims in The Canterbury Tales, Carol’s journey started in London. As a singer, she is the character Chaucer left out from his Tales. From her first gig, Carol has attracted enthusiastic followers who want to join her on her “pilgrimage”.

He could songs make and well endite.” (from the prologue of The Canterbury Tales) — Chaucer didn’t write a Singer’s Tale, so here is mine.

Carol’s principal musician/performer in telling her tale is pianist Dorian Ford. Other first class musicians who regularly work with Carol are brought in along the road to add to the story wherever it lands: pubs, village halls, theatres, cafes, festivals – no place is too small or too large to embrace Carol Grimes and her Singer’s Tale.

9th and 26 February 2015. Doors open 7.15pm, show at 8pm.
St James Studio, 12 Palace Street, London SW1E 5JA. Nearest tube: Victoria.

Book on 0844 2642140 or at www.stjamestheatre.co.uk

Sing for Joy

Sing for Joy

Sing for Joy is a community choir for people with Parkinson's Disease and similar conditions, their friends and carers.

We are all sorts of ages, types and genders. All that we have in common is that we have an illness, or care for someone with an illness, and that singing with others makes us feel better.

To find our more about us, please click here.