Exciting times ahead
Ollie Howell
Peter Whittingham Jazz Development Award
3rd February 2014
Exciting times ahead

2013 was a really important year for me. As the year began, I had just left the studio after recording my debut album, and had recently won the Peter Whittingham Development Award from Help Musicians UK, which funded an EPK video for the my album.

Sutures and Stitches

During the Summer of 2013, I was lucky enough to perform 2 sold-out nights at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club as the special guest support for jazz legend Jimmy Cobb (a mentor of mine), and I also flew out to Montreux Jazz Festival again to spend another few unforgettable days with another music legend I’m honoured to call my friend and mentor, Quincy Jones.

In September, my debut album, ‘Sutures and Stitches’, was released worldwide on Whirlwind Recordings, and we then completed a 16-date CD release tour. To any of you who are lucky enough to work with the same band for a while, you’ll understand what I mean when I say that nothing quite solidifies your “group sound” like being on tour together, and finding new ways to reinvent the material each night. It was an amazing experience both musically and personally, as the members of my band also happen to be some of my best friends!

 Ollie HowellSo after having had such an important year for my career, 2014 has a lot to live up to! So far though, it looks like it could be an even more important year for me, in several ways. And most of it has occurred over the last fortnight!

Last week I went into hospital to have what was to hopefully be my last neurosurgery, following several operations spanning the past few years after being diagnosed with a brain malformation in 2009. This is in itself a really important milestone for me, as it’ll (hopefully) mean the end of what has been a difficult few years at times. But it was a phone call I received from my hospital bed that’s really changed the shape of the year ahead…

Several days before, I’d had a final interview for a Sky Academy Arts Scholarship, from Sky Arts and Ideas Tap. I’d been so surprised to even get through to the final shortlist, as this award was open to any area of the Arts, not just music. But unbelievably, this phone call was to let me know that I was one of the 5 Scholarship winners. I was completely blown away – I just sat there in silence for several minutes after putting down the phone, trying to process the information... As well as mentoring from Sky executives and music industry professionals, this award will also completely fund my next album, which will now also have a live DVD to go with it! I still find it very difficult to find the words to express my extreme gratitude to Sky and Ideas Tap for giving me this incredible opportunity. By the looks of it, this coming year is going to be one of the most exciting of my entire life…