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Ruby Turner In NZ With Jools Holland This Month

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Jools Holland
Jools Holland

UK pianist and bandleader Jools Holland is bringing his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra to Auckland later this month, along with gospel singer Ruby Turner. RACHEL PINDER of NZPA caught up with Turner ahead of their world tour.

Auckland, March 18 NZPA - Jools Holland and Ruby Turner have a special kind of musical relationship.

They have been working together on and off for the past 15 years, and Turner has made her mark singing with Holland and his 18-piece Rhythm & Blues Orchestra in extensive tours around the world, performing at anything up to 100 concerts each year.

Turner says fans can expect a lot from the tour, which touches down at Auckland's ASB Theatre on March 30.

"He's coming with a mighty band, that's the only way to describe it. It's just great feel-good music and it's all about the big band sound, and we'll be singing the blues, the gospel, and the older style," Turner says.

She says Holland likes to mix and match a little bit.

"We'll do stuff from our latest album The Informer and other things we're working on. We're just playing the music that we love. And I think that's what it's all about."

Turner works with her own band normally, and occasionally she does sessions, but she says she really feels part of Holland's Rhythm & Blues Orchestra.

"I really feel part of a very important unit. As the years have gone on, I've worked with him the longest, and the relationship that he and I have musically is great. We have a really good rapport and we love the same kind of music.

"He loves gospel, he loves the blues, and he's a boogie woogie player. When he talks about music you see something light up, and it's just great.

"He's the genuine article. He's a real generous musician, and to share a stage with him is just amazing," she says.

Turner, who will be making her fourth visit to New Zealand, was born in Jamaica and grew up in Montego Bay, but she has lived in England since the age of nine.

She says soul and gospel are still her biggest influences when writing songs.

"The stuff I was listening to back in the day has a real reggae background because I'm Jamaican, but of course I was heavily influenced by gospel through the church.

"Then I got into soul and Motown, so that's all been a huge influence for me," she says.

Turner says that touring around the world has also given her plenty of inspiration to generate new ideas.

"I am a fan of music, and I like to listen. I like to learn and I get excited about hearing new things. But at the same time you have to be an individual.

"I love to hear stuff from different artists and different countries. As a musician, you're forever looking for inspiration," she says.

So is she tired of touring and living out of a suitcase after all these years?

"I feel very blessed that we're still working in this business.

"It's a tough one. There's no two ways about it, the music business is going through a really low ebb.

"A lot of music companies are crashing, and you get an influx of the same type of artists, and then you can't decipher who's who.

"It's tough in the sense there's not much individuality going on. Everybody just sounds the same and it's all about commercialism and making money.

"If one particular thing works you can guarantee that dozens of music companies are going to say they want a singer or a band like that. And before you know it, you've got carbon copies of the same thing."

After the world tour with Holland finishes at the end of this year, Turner will begin a solo UK tour with her own band.

She released a gospel album last year, I'm Travelling On, which features Holland, and she says she probably won't do another recording until next year.

"The gospel album probably took me about two years to get going, and I love it. It's very different, and it's like going back to old style gospel.

"I'm doing my own thing now so there's no pressure any more. If you're with a label you've got to turn an album out every year. It's like a conveyor belt, but I'm at that stage in my life where I'm going to take my time and feel good about what I'm doing," she says.

To date, Turner has released 14 albums plus the BBC's Live From Glastonbury, as well as appearing on releases by the likes of Brian Ferry, UB40, Steve Winwood and Mick Jagger.

She also manages to make time for theatre, TV, radio and film work.

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