Alice Zawadzki is a vocalist, violinist, songwriter and composer based in London. Her work as a performer, collaborator, composer and speaker, has seen her gain considerable repute as “a genuine original” (The Guardian), and a distinctive and individual presence on the creative European music scene.
Alice’s rich musical background and “whimsical hyper-creativity” (MOJO Magazine) converge into artistry which draws upon her early exposure to New Orleans jazz and gospel with the legendary Lillian Boutté who took Alice under her wing and on tour as a teenager, an extensive classical training as a violinist, and a continuous exploration of improvisation, poetry, and folk music from diverse traditions, “all propelled in a voice of velvet suppleness and gutsy emotional power” (The Arts Desk). She performs extensively as both a soloist and as a collaborator, with headline performances at the major UK alternative and jazz venues and festivals, including the Royal Albert Hall, Ronnie Scott’s, the London Jazz Festival, the Vortex, Celtic Connections, and internationally at festivals from Taipei International Jazz Festival (Taiwan) to Coventry Calling (Massachusetts, USA) to Sűdtirol Jazz Festival (Italy), Ottawa Chamber Music Festival (Canada), Musicá Impopular (Brazil), Argentina’s Usina Del Arte and many more. She also performs and collaborates at underground venues in the London scene and on unexpected platforms, with a keenness to nourish music at its roots, and to support inclusive community-wide music making.
Her 2019 release, ‘Within You Is A World Of Spring’, generously supported by the PRSF Women Make Music Award, features a who’s-who of celebrated players, including guitarist Rob Luft, bassist Misha Mullov-Abbado, pianist, drummer and producer Fred Thomas, Korean taegum player Hyelim Kim, and the Amika string quartet. This second solo album was met with vigorous critical praise, including being awarded Contemporary Album of the Month by The Guardian newspaper in October 2019, making the Top 20 Albums of 2019 from John Fordham and Jazzwise Magazine, as well as a host of other warm national and international reviews, BBC and Jazz FM radio play, and live radio sessions. In November 2019, Alice presented her orchestral versions of the songs from “Within You..” with a chamber orchestra of talented musicians from her alma mater, the Royal Northern College of Music, with the conscious intention of broadening traditional orchestral approaches to improvisation and performance. With generous support from the Arts Council England, and in association with Serious and the RNCM, Alice performed these new arrangements at the RNCM concert hall and at Kings Place for the London Jazz Festival, to rapturous acclaim, with London Jazz News describing the performance as “brimming with inspiration and a real depth of feeling”. Music OMH declared, “Alice Zawadzki is one of the sharpest talents currently at work in UK jazz…her Kings Place performance found her in captivating form, commanding a larger venue with confidence, wit and breeziness…a major statement from an increasingly significant artist.”
She released her debut solo album China Lane (Whirlwind Recordings) in 2014, a collection of original songs and arrangements infused with modern, ancient and invented folklore. China Lane was met with widespread critical acclaim, being made Album of the Week by BBC Radio 3, and making the The Guardian’s Best Albums End of Year List, described as “beguiling, unorthodox and pure” by The Independent, and “a real force to be reckoned with” by Jamie Cullum, who invited Alice and her band to perform live on BBC Radio 2 at Maida Vale. The success of China Lane also led to her nomination for British Vocalist of the Year by both Jazz FM (2015 and 2018) and the Parliamentary Jazz Awards (2015 and 2017), and she was selected to take part in Take Five, the professional development programme run by international music producers, Serious Ltd, sponsored by the Performing Rights Society and Arts Council England.
In May 2019, Alice was the vocal soloist with the City of London Sinfonia at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, singing a wide variety of songs inspired by birdsong in their programme Absolute Bird, and in August 2019 she played in duo with Philadelphia hip-hop legend Ursula Rucker in a headline set at the Jazz Cafe in London. As an in-demand interpreter of new work, Alice has had the privilege to premiere many new large-scale pieces, including playing the role of Satan in Seb Gainsborough and Rakhi Singh’s Paradise Lost with the Manchester Collective, Abel Selaocoe’s Mother Tongue, Daniel Cohen’s Reciprocity at the Ottawa Chamber Music Festival, Alex Roth’s Arvoles Lloran Por Luvia at Battersea Music Hall, the role of Maisa in Alya Al-Sultani’s Two Sisters: An Arabic Opera at the Ahbab Festival in Cambridge, Peter Wiegold’s Third Orchestra at the Barbican, as well as performing virtuosic works for the voice including Arnold Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire and Osvaldo Golijov’s Ayre – both with the Orquestra Filârmonica de Goiás in Brazil, and Louis Andriessen’s M is for Man, Music and Mozart, with Sinfonia Viva at Nottingham Symphony Hall. In 2017 she was commissioned alongside taegum player Hyelim Kim to create a body of new music for K-Music Fest and Serious, with performances at the Vortex Jazz Club, and later at the Queen Elizabeth Hall. She has performed extensively on live BBC Radio in association with the London Jazz Festival, BBC New Generation Artists programme, and many others.
Her striking ability to perform across and transcend genres whilst retaining her own expressive and intelligent musical style gives her a unique accessibility, and her distinctive voice can be heard on numerous film and television scores, including Disney’s major motion picture African Cats, written by Nicholas Hooper, Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror (BBC). She also performed live throughout Germany as the vocal soloist with the Prague Philharmonic for George Fenton’s Planet Earth Live in Concert arena tour, and as the vocal and fiddle soloist in James Horner’s iconic score of the film Titanic, performed live internationally with the Kansai Philharmonic, (Taiwan) Osaka Symphony, Tokyo Philharmonic, (Japan), Moscow City Symphony Orchestra, and the St Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra (Russia), and later as soloist at the Royal Albert Hall for the biopic of James Horner “A Life in Music“.
She has performed on acclaimed albums for labels including Whirlwind Recordings (China Lane), Babel (What Do You See When You Close Your Eyes? – The Moss Project), Chaos (Impossible Things – Corrie Dick), Odradek (Lela – Dan Whieldon), Boombetter Records (Lifecycles – Engines Orchestra), and Ubiquity Records (The Myth of the Golden Ratio – United Vibrations), and has enjoyed regular radio play from BBC Radio 2, BBC Radio 3, Jazz FM, and Resonance FM, including live session features for BBC Radio 2 and at Jazz FM with her solo project, and as a speaker on vocal practices for programmes on BBC Radio 3.
She trained in jazz singing and composition and gained an MA at the Royal Academy of Music, with a scholarship from the Musicians Benevolent Fund, after completing undergraduate studies in classical violin at the Royal Northern College of Music, where she also won the Hilda Collens Prize and the Cove Park Emerging Artists Residency, supported by the Jerwood Foundation and the Scottish Arts Council.
Alice has held several higher education posts as a teacher, and delivered vocal and improvisation programs for the RNCM, Salford University, the University of Kent, and the Engines Orchestra. She has worked extensively for Live Music Now, a charity which takes live music into places where it is hard to access, including special needs schools, hospitals, care homes and prisons, and is currently a member of Play For Progress, an organization who provide music workshops and friendship to unaccompanied teenagers who have or are seeking refugee status in the UK.