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Sudbury: Tributes paid to singing coach Jean Marshall who helped hone voices of Neneh Cherry, Grace jones and Beth Orton

12:41 15 April 2014

Jean and Peter Marshall in the music room in Western House, Cavendish.

Jean and Peter Marshall in the music room in Western House, Cavendish.

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Tributes have been paid to a Suffolk singing teacher whose students ranged from local youngsters to stars of the pop and opera worlds.

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Jean Marshall, from Western House, Cavendish, died in West Suffolk Hospital at the age of 96.

A sought-after teacher, her first pupils were drawn from the world of classical music, including operatic tenor Edmund Barham – a talent so great that Benjamin Britten’s partner and muse, Peter Pears, attended lessons just to hear him sing. During a musical career lasting more than six decades, Mrs Marshall also helped hone the vocal skills of well-known artists such as Grace Jones, Neneh Cherry, Beth Orton and Suffolk-based Nik Kershaw.

Mrs Marshall, who leaves a husband, Peter, daughter Louise, son Robert and three grandchildren, was born Jean Campbell-Gray in British India on November 26, 1917. She first came to England aged 11 to attend school in Malvern.

In the Second World War, she was a WAAF officer based at RAF Debden and Biggin Hill and during the Battle of Britain, she plotted the flights of German aircraft on their raids. She was mentioned in dispatches and demobbed in 1946.

Mrs Marshall’s teaching career began in London during the 1950s after she graduated from the prestigious Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

Her daughter Louise said: “Later, Jean came in contact with the 1960s counter-culture when Jeff Dexter, one of the leading figures and promoters in that world, brought her the young Linda Lewis to teach.

“Under Jean’s tutelage, Linda developed her massive three-octave range and went on to have a high-profile career, releasing acclaimed albums and joining artists such as David Bowie on song projects.”

The Marshalls moved to Western House in 1970 and developed a large musical practice, nurturing pupils who regularly won awards at all of the Suffolk music festivals.

Mrs Marshall’s funeral will take place on April 23 at 11am at St Mary the Virgin Church, Cavendish.

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