Meet Kitty LaRoar
British singer Kitty LaRoar is unique in the jazz scene: not only does she usually sing while standing at her custom drum kit, but also in that she has a decidedly unusual name.
Born in Bangor and bred in Bolton Kitty moved to London as a teenager to read drama and theatre arts at Goldsmiths College. But, having been raised on a diet of jazz and classical, the love of music ran deep.
Kitty met her long time collaborator, jazz pianist Nick Shankland in Soho London in 2004 and immediately embarked together on a career in cabaret, and on the then-burgeoning burlesque scene. They began honing their style with a weekly performance at Two2Much, the notorious nightclub on the site of the legendary Raymond Revue Bar which went on to become Soho Revue Bar and ultimately The Box. This residency lasted several years.
Later in the 00s they took over Thursday nights at the Cellar Door in Covent Garden where they hosted their long-running and wildly successful “Mashup” show – wild times indeed.
The year 2008 saw the release of their art-pop album Lucky Victims featuring Sam Burgess on bass, Pete Wareham and Jamie Anderson on saxophones, and Simon Lea on drums. This is a sonically playful and at times theatrical concept prog-pop record with dynamic & highly original compositions & arrangements, evocative & surreal lyrics, and bittersweet melodies throughout – available on iTunes.
Then in 2010 there was a disturbance in the force, Kitty picked up a ukulele! Having never played an instrument before, this was a big step and she straightaway fell in love with the immediacy and portability of the instrument. The guys formed a new ukulele trio, the “Honky Tonk Cats” with Nick on piano/uke, Stu Ritchie on drums/uke (later tenor guitar), and all three musicians singing in harmonies.
It was during one of their early gigs together in this line-up that Kitty first hopped up on drums, a spontaneous moment that was met by surprise and great acclaim. Asked after the gig how she seemed to find playing drums so natural she replied, “it’s just like dancing”.
Despite the focus of her music now moving to exclusively jazz, she decided to keep her stage name.
In 2011 a role was created for her as co-star in a new big-band theatre show based primarily on the music of Frank Sinatra during his years at Capitol Records, alongside British swing singer Kevin Fitzsimmons and backed up by the Pete Long orchestra. Kitty provides some added glamour as well as the music of Ella Fitzgerald, Marilyn Monroe and Peggy Lee. This show still tours regularly throughout the uk www.sinatrasequinsandswing.com
Moving forwards to 2013, Kitty and Nick became the featured musicians at Scarfes Bar in the new Rosewood Hotel London, sister bar to Cafe Carlyle in New York City. Still there to this day and playing three times a week (Monday, Thursday, Saturday) as duo, trio or quartet they are joined by some very choice musicians indeed, including; Ed Jones, Andy Davis, Ray Gelato, Brandon Allen, Geoff Gascoyne, Derek Nash, Quentin Collins, Mark Lewandowski, Davide Mantovani, Benet McClean, Nigel Price, Alex Garnet and Leo Richardson to name but a few.
Tuesdays you will find them at exquisite China Tang on Park Lane from 9.15pm.
Despite their busy London schedule the pair have found time to take their music around the world having visited far and wide in the last few years including New York, Boston, Bali, France, Monaco, Switzerland, Norway, Cuba, Damascus and even performing on the Orient Express while en route to Lake Como in Italy.
2016 will see them promoting their new trio album Valentine’s Eve, while working on their forthcoming quartet releases to be announced soon…