Talkin' bout a revolution...
by Chris Hunter
Tricolour-waving Marianne to the cigar-chomping Che Guevara, every
revolution needs a talismanic hero.
Could the flute-toting Andrea
Magee be about to find a place in history?
The Belfast-born singer known
simply as Magee found brief fame on TV’s Fame Academy in 2003
before losing out in the final stages of the programme – but 10
years later she’s bounced back to win a record deal the proper way
after forging a career as a live performer and music
Now, after leaving her job as
the head of music at Wrotham School, the Maidstone-based singer,
27, is relaunching her bid to find full-time music
success – but her determination to inspire youngsters and bring
music into the community means she could also be launching a mini
music revolution here in Kent.
Flute in hand, like a
better-looking, better-intentioned version of the Pied Piper of
Hamelin, Magee is leading young and old alike away from the world
of mass-produced pop to a place of musical enlightenment;
namely the Lobster Pot pub in West Malling and the Green Man
in Hodsell Street, near Wrotham, where her open-mic nights are
gaining legendary status.
"Fame Academy opened my eyes
to the industry," she said. "It's made me go in the opposite
direction. The thing was I grew up in Ireland doing this all the
time, with people just sitting around in pubs playing. It’s sad
that it doesn’t really exist here. There are open-mic nights, but
I’ve been to a lot that are very structured.
"I like to keep it open and family-orientated. The reason I can get
up and sing easily is because I’ve done it from a young
"It’s just the way things
are. It’s breaking down the barrier and making people realise that
barrier is not as big and strong as you think. There’s just so much
talent – I think it is born from the likes of X Factor in a way,
but a lot of them are so brainwashed, they think the only way to do
it is the X Factor way."
Through combining youth and
tradition – something her own music does with its meld of folk
melodies and underground electronic sound – Magee could well end up
building a music scene stronger than anything previously seen in
small towns like West Malling, where her inspiration has prompted
would-be artists to perform and bands to form.
And although her ultimate aim
is to be a full-time musician, Magee still works with Grange Park
special needs school in Wrotham and has ambitions to expand her own
performing arts school – Magee Mentoring.
"If nothing comes of the
music I’ll still have a happy life sharing music with kids," she
said. "Every success I’ve had has come from the students and from
being a teacher."
Fellow music teacher and skilled
guitarist Gary Lucas regularly performs live with Magee and also
believes fostering live music is important in challenging
preconceived notions of musical success.
"I have felt at my most successful when I finish a gig and
strangers approach us, delighting in telling us how much they
enjoyed their evening," he said. "There is a look in these people’s
faces that I recognise after each gig - it's contentment and
Magee’s debut EP is due to be
released this summer, produced by Benny D, who has produced Paloma
Faith and Plan B.
Watch Magee on Friday, February 15,
at The Beaches Restaurant, in Seven Mile Lane, and Saturday, March
2, at the Lobster Pot in West Malling.
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