Val Wiseman

Location: Twickenham, West London
About The Speaker...

Val Wiseman’s career began in the midlands and owes much to early influences in music and drama and the opportunity of singing with some of Britain’s legendary bandleaders such as Humphrey Lyttelton, Monty Sunshine and Kenny Baker. Her growing reputation led to a starring role in the Billie Holiday tribute show Lady Sings The Blues. The show and accompanying album won critical acclaim with television and concert appearances worldwide and for Val, an army of new fans. Her first solo album was released in 2003 to enthusiastic reviews and her work was rewarded when she was voted Best British Vocalist at the British Jazz Awards both in 2008 and 2011.

Val still tours with Lady Sings The Blues and stars in a variety of musical shows: Divas of Swing in tribute to her favourite singers: Sophisticated Lady featuring the Duke Ellington Songbook: Jazz Goes to the Movies, a review of film songs: S’Wonderful, a tribute to the music of George Gershwin and Swinging Down Memory Lane.

Returning to her early interest in musical theatre and drama, Val wrote and produced an album of songs: Keeping The Flame Alive, dedicated to her favourite novelists, the Brontës. These songs are now featured in her one woman show The Brontë Legacy.

About her presentations...

My one hour talks can be stand alone but are best illustrated with snatches of recorded work if the venue carries a PA system. I can also adjust the length of my talks to suit requirements.

Fee:

I am happy to present my talks in Richmond Borough and Greater London and my fee starts at £140 inclusive of travel.  Venues outside of Greater London are subject to negotiation.

My Contact Details:
Phone:

020 8744 3915

Queens of Song: The Joy and Pain of the Jazz Divas

My talk celebrates the achievements of four of the most successful female jazz singers of the 20th century and how they managed to triumph against the odds at a turbulent time in America’s social history. Their stories are all different. Sometimes upbeat and positive – other times poignant and heart rending.

Ella Fitzgerald Jazz Singer
Public Speaker Val Wiseman talks about Peggy Lee in her talk Queens of Song

Ella Fitzgerald: from orphan to bandleader

Ella was born in 1918 in Newport, Virginia. In 1934 a terrified teenager stepped onto the stage of the Harlem Opera House. It was talent night and she was about to demonstrate her talent as a dancer. Fearing the rowdy audience practically baying for blood that night she changed her mind and began to sing instead …….

Peggy Lee: From Cinderella to perfect princess

Peggy was born in 1920 in Jamestown, North Dakota. Reared by a feckless father and brutally beaten by her sadistic stepmother, Norma Deloris Egstrom dreamed of stardom a world away from her traumatic childhood. She got her first break singing on a local radio show.  A name change followed and Miss Peggy Lee began to realise her dreams.

Public Speaker Val Wiseman talks about Anita O'day in her talk Queens of Song
Public Speaker Val Wiseman talks about Billie Holliday in her talk Queens of Song

Anita O’Day: from dance queen to jazz diva

Anita was born in 1919 in Chicago, Illinois. During the depression years, the young teenage Anita became a full time contestant in a touring Walkathon show, a kind of endurance contest where customers placed bets on the last couple standing. Lucrative for the promoters; hard going for the dancers, but listening to the musicians gave Anita a better idea!

Billie Holiday: from red lights to bright lightsBillie was born in 1915 in Baltimore, Maryland.

Reared in the ghettos of Baltimore by uncaring relatives, young Eleanora Harris  joined her mother Sadie who was working as a maid in New York. Influenced by the easy money the street girls earned led to a conviction for prostitution. Re-inventing herself as Billie Holiday the singer, led to a life changing career.

The Joys of Jazz Singing: From Talent Contest to Spotlight

Public Speaker and Jazz Singer Val Wiseman talks about The Joys of Jazz Singing: From Talent Contest to Spotlight

“Don’t put your daughter on the stage” wrote Noel Coward, but that’s exactly what my father did. Having patiently taught me to recite a poem off by heart, he entered me in a local talent contest. I recall his words of encouragement as he gently nudged me onto the stage and the look of horror on his face when I announced to the compere that I was going to dance! Round and round I happily skipped, flapping my arms like a butterfly caught in the spotlight. I remember the feeling of liberation when the audience responded with good natured laughter and cheers. For a brief moment I was a star and how good it felt. I was four years old!  My journey begins here – a stage struck young midlands girl growing up in post war Britain; the dance classes, the amateur dramatics and singing with local musicians in my teens. I dreamed of stardom  and eventually left home to join a professional band in “swinging sixties” London. Did I realise my dreams and find fame and fortune?  All is revealed in this informal  appraisal of my career with many laughs and drama along the way – and it isn’t over yet!

The Brontë Legacy: Celebrating the bi-centenaries of a passionate family.

Public Speaker Val Wiseman talks about The Brontë Legacy  celebrating the bi-centenaries of a passionate family.

As a young schoolgirl I saw an early BBC adaptation of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre starring Daphne Slater in the title role and Stanley Baker as the charismatic Mr. Rochester. I was mesmerised by the story and have remained a Brontë fan ever since! My talk examines the lives and work of Charlotte and her sisters  Emily and Anne, whose novels Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall shocked Victorian society when they were published in 1847. Opinion was divided. Some critics described the stories as “brutal,” “coarse” and “wicked,” but the appetite of the reading public to obtain novels written by the Brontë sisters was insatiable! To this day their stories continue to inspire dramatists, artists, composers & film makers. I currently organise events for Brontë fans in London and recently wrote and produced an album of songs in tribute to their lives and work which I now present in a one woman show!