HMUK names Helena Kay as the winner of the Peter Whittingham Jazz Award 2017

UK independent music charity Help Musicians UK (HMUK) has announced that young Scottish alto saxophonist and band-leader Helena Kay has won the coveted Peter Whittingham Jazz award 2017.

Kay will take home a £5,000 development fund to help her take her career to the next level.

HMUK also awarded additional development funds to three other Jazz artists: Olly Chalk, Faye MacCalman (Archipelago) and Jasmine Whalley (Tȇtes De Pois).

The Peter Whittingham Jazz Award was established in 1990. The award is judged independently of HMUK and is awarded annually to emerging Jazz musicians. Many previous Peter Whittingham Jazz Award awardees have made it to the forefront of the jazz scene, including Errollyn Wallen MBE, Soweto Kinch, Andrea Vicari, Empirical, Led Bib, Phil Meadows and the Mercury Prize-nominated Roller Trio.

HMUK is committed to supporting and championing women in Jazz and last year announced the Jazz Promoter Fellowship Programme in partnership with jazz composer and gender equality campaigner Issie Barratt, with the aim of closing the identified gender gap in the sector.

The charity will celebrate Women in Jazz with a line of up of the two Peter Whittingham awardees: Helena Kay’s KIM Trio and Jasmine Whalley’s Tȇtes De Pois, alongside Laura Jurd.

The exclusive Jazz show, curated by HMUK, is part of Independent Venue Week at London’s 100 Club on Sunday 4th February.

Kay, originally from Perth, Scotland, is an exceptionally gifted alto saxophonist, former Young Scottish Jazz Musician Of The Year, jazz graduate and artist fellow of Guildhall School, as well as bandleader of KIM Trio.

Reacting to winning the award, Kay said: “Recording, releasing and promoting my debut album is a daunting and expensive prospect, but the support and guidance that this award provides will be a massive help in making it possible. It means a lot to have been selected for this prestigious award, given the reputation of the panel and previous winners; I’m very grateful and excited to get started.”

Claire Gevaux, Help Musicians UK creative director, added: “The Peter Whittingham Jazz Award is open to all and has been won by a diverse array of incredible British jazz talent. And this year is no exception, Helena Kay has an exciting future ahead of her. Women are under-represented in jazz and through a series of programmes and initiatives including the Jazz Promoter Fellowship, HMUK will continue to work collaboratively to redress the gender imbalance by championing women in the music industry.”

The independent judging panel of the award was chaired by Peter Whittingham’s son-in-law Clive Shelton, alongside eminent jazz experts Zoe Rahman, Geoff Gascoyne, Issie Barratt and Noel Langley.

Shelton highlighted the significance of this year’s award: “The judges were presented with a full day of amazing music and interesting and innovative project proposals. We were unanimous in our choice of the Peter Whittingham award winner. Helena Kay is, without question, destined for a fabulous career in music and a worthy recipient of the award. We hope that it will help her establish herself further on the jazz scene and give her some security at this early stage. We were delighted too that Help Musicians UK provided additional funding for development awards given to three other artists. The quality of the applications was outstanding and the future of jazz in the UK is surely in safe hands.”

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Founder/Publisher of UK musical instrument industry publication MI Focus.