It is without any doubt that Nell Shakespeare belongs to a certain class of musical talent which becomes accustomed to applause. It is a product of all inspiring performers, that they live through momentous personal adventures, learning and honing their craft, summoning the courage to express it, and (usually) being totally stumped as to how their developed talent could possibly constitute a ‘proper’ job. Nell is not alone, but she is indeed special. The short list of her achievements to date would read like the dream CV for many other aspiring musicians, and particularly singers.
Nell has a voice, like we all do, but hers is too different to be a fluke. Any musician can, admittedly, cite various anatomical or environmental factors that combined to make them into the ‘talented’ individual you are probably enquiring about. Nell’s training took place during gruelling, early morning walks to work, when she would leave her warm bed at 5.30am and brave the horrendous Midlands morning weather, pacing for many miles whilst singing her favourite songs at the top of her voice. Many who passed this flamboyant and beautiful girl along the way looked in wonder, and I’m certain of one thing, they heard something special.
A quick look at Nell’s prized vinyl collection will give any interested party a decent idea of where her musical talent has set its roots. You will find Bowie, Joni Mitchell, Led Zepplin, The Smiths, Stevie Wonder, and The Last Waltz – the proper box-set.
Taking this passion for music and singing to a place like Ibiza is a challenge in anyone’s book. Nell took up this challenge at the tender age of 21, and has never looked back. Nell’s rise from being a girl who was occasionally given the chance to take the microphone, late night, in the drunken and dastardly depths of Sant Antoni, Ibiza, from beginnings as an exceptionally gifted young to the widely respected and undeniably successful vocalist she is today, for many could sound like the story of a rough diamond, polished over time, but it would be wrong to think that. Firstly, nobody can take credit for her successful career, let alone her exceptional musical talent, she is entirely self-made. And secondly, Nell was always a rare and enchanting diamond. Before I met Nell in person, I was played a recording of her singing. That moment lives with me to this day, and felt as if a light bulb was switched on in my head. I adored female vocalists, all of the best ones, and the rare ones. When I was told that this voice came from a girl who was essentially a barmaid, my world changed for ever, and for the better. We were friends not long after.
After a decade perfecting her live performances, being able to boast of countless testimonials from wedding couples, exclusive venues, restaurants and music producers, Nell sits at the top of her castle.
In 2019 she co-wrote, ‘Closer’ with Todd Terry, receiving widespread acclaim. More recently, in May 2020, one of her long-term projects The Powder Monkeys released ‘Beautiful Animal’, on Black Riot records, again receiving plaudits and currently rising up through the charts. It should be no surprise that Nell’s DJ alter ego ‘Nellie Shakes’ is developing into a versatile and respected selector, and she is adding DJ bookings to her busy schedule.
There are many things which set Nell apart from her peers. She’s impossible to pigeonhole. On an average day, Nell might find herself sat at the front of a wedding congregation, performing for the couple’s ceremony; then joining another musician or a band for the ‘Aperitifs’, as guests roll in from the ceremony to talk and nibble, providing a discrete and soulful acoustic backing for the congregation. Then, after finding some time to change outfit and have some food, she will take to the dancefloor at front of stage, and deliver the headlining performance that every newlywed’s dreams are made of. Sometimes, she’ll even be DJing at the after party!