Kerry Ellis, Suffolk songbird, takes flight

Kerry Ellis, Coming Home, The Apex, March 18

West End superstar and Suffolk songstress Kerry Ellis was given a rousing welcome at The Apex in Bury St Edmunds at the weekend as she staged her first professional concert in her home county.

The Stowmarket-born singer was back in Suffolk at the invitation of the Gipping Valley Rotary Club to raise funds for the John Peel Centre.

She was in fine voice, in fact it soared, and made for a wonderful demonstration for the clarity and fine acoustics of The Apex.

Backed by pianist/composer/arranger Craig Adams and a small band, Kerry gave a very different, very personal show. It was miles away from her Anthems show at the Royal Albert Hall last year.

Instead of selections from last year’s album, she treated local audiences to a mixture of her own favourite songs – everything from The Beatles, Adele and Katy Perry to Ed Sheeran and The Foo Fighters. It was like having a glorious human jukebox in the hall.

Mixed in with these personal favourites were songs taken from key moments in her career including I Could Have Danced All Night from My Fair Lady, the show where she moved from understudy to West End leading lady, I Dreamed A Dream from Les Miserables, she played Fantine having left We Will Rock You and a dramatically reworked Defying Gravity from Wicked, which although calmer than her version with Brian May, still allowed her voice to take flight.

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Craig Adams did a wonderful job with the arrangements – making a diverse array of songs sound as if they were ‘of a piece’. Craig and Kerry also unveiled a new song that they had co-written For My Heart which comes from a new musical which is currently being developed.

Kerry also welcomed Bury-based choir The Voice Squad to back her on an amazing version of Amazing Grace and rock tenor Nathan James for a duet on Show Me Heaven.

But Kerry’s real ace card was her easy, conversational relationship with the audience – which was cemented when she dragged her reluctant brother Andrew up on stage for a duet.

It was a stunning evening of virtuoso entertainment and proof, if proof were needed, that Suffolk does have talent.

Andrew Clarke

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