Yorkshire-based singer-songwriter Chantel McGregor has had a lifelong love affair with music ever since she started playing the guitar at just three years old! As she matured, she began to perform with bands and built a career that led to her touring around the UK. Her sound is mostly rock-based with a little bit of acoustic, and her live performances feature her original music, giving each performance an intimate feel.
Her love of music began back when she was a toddler, when she used to listen to dad play guitar in her family home, Chantel explained: “I just sort of picked it up. I used to toddle over and try to retune his guitars, so he thought ‘we’ll get her one of her own and see how she goes with it’ and I really took to it and enjoyed it, so he got me lessons and it went from there.”
Despite the difficult year, Chantel has actually kept herself really busy and despite many cancelled or postponed gigs, she has remained optimistic: “It was kind of one of those things of thinking ‘right how can I connect with fans and still keep my career going’,” she said.
She continued, “It’s been a really bad thing for the industry of entertainment, arts and theatre. But, for me it was a case of thinking this thing ain’t going to get better, probably for quite a long time, so you need to find different ways of trying to keep going and to keep fans entertained because they’re all sat at home and fed up as well. You’ve got to keep people entertained and happy!”
And that’s where the “Shed Sessions” were born, which were live streamed every Saturday at 5pm on her Facebook, Twitter and YouTube accounts. Shed Sessions was inspired by a studio in the garage back at her home in Bradford, which Chantel lovingly calls her shed!
Speaking of the sessions, she said, “It was really fun, it kept me in touch with the fans. I actually did the last one last week! 67 sessions later…”
That’s certainly an impressive feat! Alongside that, she also had a few different music releases throughout 2020, such as a Lady Gaga cover and featured on Gumbo Blues album.
Talking of those projects she explained, “At the start of the pandemic, a company in America got in touch and said to pick a cover that I want to do and rock it up, and we’ll put it out – so I was like alright, cool. Lady Gaga had just released Stupid Love and I was like this is great. This is such a good song, let’s work on this. I did all my bits in Bradford in the ‘Shed’ studio, and then sent the files over to America where they got a band to do their bits in a studio over there, and it got put together by a producer. The Gumbo Blues album worked exactly the same, as it was the same company.”
Even better, now that we’re back to live gigs, Chantel is back on tour. “It’s been lovely to get back to gigging. We did one last weekend where there were about 600 people at this festival and it was like ‘this is how it should be’. It felt like we’d never been away really. 15 months of not seeing the band too, so it was lovely,” she adds.
On the topic of live shows, she’s back at The Apex in Bury St Edmunds very soon. This time, it’s as part of the all-day Blues Festival on the 28th August, of which she’s headlining with a gig set of an hour and a half.
She claims the venue to be on her favourites and even released a live album from there a couple of years ago, “It’s just absolutely lovely. The people there are so nice and it’s always a really good gig and it’ll be lovely to be back in Bury St Edmunds again.” she quips.
To those who might be worried about live gigs, she reassures that The Apex has good COVID measures in place for keeping people safe and that while it can be scary, it’s good to be able to mix with people again and get back out and see live music.
As to what the future holds, fans will be pleased to know a third album is in the works, “I’m writing as we speak, well not literally! But hopefully I can get in the studio at some point and get that done. That will probably come out next year now, because I put an album at the start of July and one at start and August as part of the sessions, so yeah I don’t really want to put another one out just yet – that was hard enough!”
Otherwise, for now the focus is on playing catch up with all the gigs that got rescheduled and touring for the rest of the year. Chantel teases that she may still be doing a live stream once a month, “It will be nice to keep doing, especially for the people that still don’t feel confident coming out to gigs or for those where we’re not playing near them and that will be lovely.”
Lastly, to end of a fun one I asked if he could duet with anyone, who would it be and why? And she replied simply “Ooh, it would probably Prince, but he’s dead! He was just so creative though.”
She headlines the Blues Fest at The Apex, Bury St Edmunds on Saturday 28th August. For more information or tickets visit seetickets.com/blues-rhythm-rock-festival/the-apex or theapex.co.uk.
To find more about Chantel McGregor and her upcoming shows visit www.chantelmcgregor.com.