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Suzanne Cook, I was born in Stockwell, South London, into a working-class family. I never knew my father and I hardly knew my mum. She was only sixteen when she had me. I remain her only child. Soon after I was born, my mum had a nervous breakdown, claiming she’d been raped by my father. She never fully recovered. My earliest memories are plagued by vague grey images of visits to austere psychiatric hospitals. It was my Nan who brought me up. My Granddad was an alcoholic and a gambler. There were always arguments and fights. It was inevitable that I ended up in foster care. To relieve the stress, I would sing. Singing was my therapy. I attended Stockwell Primary School, but I found it difficult to fit in. I was shy and sensitive. I remember being teased about not having a dad. The only time I felt relaxed was when I was performing on stage in one of the school’s musical productions. From an early age, I knew that I wanted to be a performer. That was where I felt most comfortable and most alive.
My secondary school life was miserable and short. My mum was back on the scene and I could not concentrate, even though I showed potential. I ran away from school at fourteen, after a bad fight in the playground. I needed to get away, so I moved in with my mum. That was a big mistake. One day, she brought a man home from the hospital. He was twenty-six; I was only fifteen. When mum was high on her medication, he took advantage of the situation, and me. In desperate need of some stability, I moved back with my Nan. I was lost and vulnerable, and I drifted for a while. At sixteen I took the wrong path and fell into some seriously bad company. I found myself in an underground world of gangsters, crime, and drugs, from which I couldn’t escape. This was the darkest time of my life. My self-esteem was low, and I lost my sense of self. I suffered with depression and turned to alcohol to numb the pain. After seven years of abuse, and just about surviving, I had an epiphany. I found the strength to get out. I was one of the lucky ones. I was alive. One of my friends didn’t make it. She died of a heroin overdose. Maybe there was a guardian angel helping me – no one else was. Deep inside, I knew I deserved better. This is when I decided to turn my life around. I found singing again, or maybe it found me.
At twenty-three I met a singer, who invited me to work with him in the clubs. I moved into a house share and got a job as a waitress in a cafe. I was in a much better place, but I was suffering from trauma and couldn’t find inner peace. I tried meditation, which helped, but I struggled to put my demons to rest, and, I was still looking for love in all the wrong places. A friend introduced me to therapy. I had broken down and told him I couldn’t cope with life anymore. I needed help and ended up staying in therapy for seven years. Understanding myself and becoming less self-destructive didn’t happen overnight, but gradually things did turn around for me.
I took singing lessons. I went to auditions. I joined a band. I joined another band – or three. I grew frustrated with the London pub circuit, so I ran off to Los Angeles. In truth, maybe I was trying to leave my past behind. Anyway, Los Angeles can be a scary place when you don’t know anyone. Lucky for me, I was used to surviving. There were times when I had no money, no food, and I slept on the beach. I had more good experiences in LA than bad, but I was still attracting negative company. There were a few close shaves. Then my visa ran out. I had no choice but to return to London.
So I was back. I auditioned for song writer Tim Devereaux. Tim’s family has a distinguished background in music and show business. We’d met before and he knew about my struggles. It was good news. This turned into the lasting working relationship I’d been hoping for. Life became a lot more doable.
Recently, I’ve been branching out and working with new people. I’ve linked up with American songwriter Michael Caruso who wrote Love is, which was recorded by Vanessa Williams and Brian McKnight. So far, I have recorded three of Michael’s songs.
Apart from collaborating, I write my own songs. Lost Without You was my first solo effort, and it’s doing well – now available to download from my Reverbnation site. I’ve also had my music placed with music libraries in Brazil and Germany.
I love The Posies, so I was thrilled when Ken Stringfellow said he would work as the producer on my latest recordings. Along with Ken, there are some tremendous musicians appearing in my ‘little black book’ – musicians who have had notable careers, making music with fine artists from the pantheon. Among those names are: Massive Attack, The Pretenders, REM and Van Morrison – to name but a few. So here I am. Things are looking up. Thank you, God, and my angels, for all the second chances.
Katie Ellie from the start of her musical journey, she spent the past year writing a good 30 songs, from an early age she has written out the lyrics to her favorite songs & seeing them instead of hearing them inspired her to create her own. Singing & writing is a real passion for her and this year she has have made it her mission to get out there and sing more at live venues. In fact, she already performed at Leeds Pride festival in front of thousands of people. she is also due to be in the lineup for an acoustic session at McCoy’s café in Hull June the 11th if you’re around. She hopes to have a collaboration and have two talents create something beautiful. If you haven’t already, check out her Miss Lionheart video as it will be out for general release real soon! she would like to thank James Grover for all his help on making her songs sound so great. be sure to keep up with her update on her iTunes release. www.youtube.com/user/KayteeBabess1/videos, Review by Wilfredo Rodriguez