Introducing Jazz & Soul Singing tutor and professional performer Abdul Shyllon. Abdul has over 10 years’ experience in the music industry in a career which has seen him write and perform for the likes of The Noisettes, Matt Bianco and Omar.
We talk about his life-long love of music, his Jazz and Soul courses at City Academy, and his career as a performer.
How would you describe your classes?
My classes are a fun, challenging, creative experience that involve engagement, learning through doing and exploring music. I work looking at the basic structure of song, melody and application and build from there. Every class and cohort is different, which always keeps the journey interesting.
What do you enjoy about teaching?
I enjoy the reciprocal interaction I get from learning through the action. It’s a two way process: while performing or teaching I’m also learning. I also enjoy watching people’s growth as they discover new things for themselves: it’s a trip!
Do you think anyone can learn to sing?
Definitely. We all have different levels of competence, and some are more adept than others of course. Singing is about awareness, alignment and application: the more you are able to successfully work on these components the better you will become.
I’m a huge Marvin Gaye fan…it’s his vulnerability and musicality that I’m drawn to
When did you start singing?
My parents have great, diverse tastes in music! Being exposed to good music was really the start. I remember joining the church choir when I was around 8 or 9 years old and learned about harmony. I hit my late teens and started secretly singing and writing songs and just really enjoyed the process – that’s when I thought I should give this a go.
How did you become a professional session singer?
By being obsessed with music! Hanging out at concerts, clubs, jam sessions; meeting other aspiring musicians and artists; and really just being involved in as much music/ and creative activity as possible. Eventually I was noticed and asked to collaborate with other artists and it just snowballed.
What was the first professional work you got?
My first “professional” gig was at the Cobden Club in Ladbroke Grove. I had the opportunity to showcase some original material, which led me to being booked to do a show in Barbados.
Who’s your favourite artist and why?
I’m a huge Marvin Gaye fan! I think it’s his vulnerability and musicality that I’m drawn to. For me it’s not just about technical prowess but what you have to say and how that affects your audience. What’s Going On is still relevant to this day! Here My Dear and I Want You changed everything for me.
Jazz and Soul music inspired a new essential language…it transcends the difficulties people experience
If you could sing with any artist, who would you choose and why?
Hmmm that’s a tough one! There are so many – I’m not sure if it’s a good idea to sing with your idols, but if I could: Marvin, Prince, Sly Stone, Nat King Cole, Quincy Jones (I’m dreaming!), Mica Paris, Dilla, Q-tip, Flying Lotus, Radiohead.. I could go on and on! Reasons why? Craft and brilliance!
What inspires you about Jazz and Soul Music?
It’s the life and expression through the music. Both genres were born out of oppression – which inspired a new essential language at the time. It became a way of thinking, survival and being. It transcends the difficulties people experience. A lot of what was written decades ago still resonates deeply with the present day and I feel so liberated listening to them!
What you say to someone who was nervous about trying a Jazz and Soul course?
My classes are group-based and enable you to learn in a relaxed supportive environment. Come to a taster and get a feel for it.
What are you working on at the moment?
I have been collaborating on various projects over the last year some of these will be released during 2016: keep an eye out!
If you’re interested in taking one of City Academy’s Jazz and Soul courses in central London, have a look at our timetables for Improvers and Advanced. If you’re new to singing, our Beginners Singing classes are the place to start.