At the age of 14 Calderdale schoolgirl Chantel McGregor was told by major record labels that she had ‘a great voice but girls don’t play guitar like that’.
Ignoring the advice, Chantel went on to enrol at Leeds College of Music, form her own record label, release a debut album and perform on stage with American blues supremo Joe Bonamassa and blues singer Paul Jones.
Now 27, she is being hailed for her stunning live performances and effortless rock and roll musicianship.
The former Hipperholme and Lightcliffe High School pupil is a veteran of the British Blues Awards, winning Young Musician of the Year in 2011 and Female Vocalist of the Year in 2012.
She has appeared on a special CD celebrating 60 years of the Fender Telecaster guitar alongside the likes of Jeff Beck and Keith Richards and won praise for her playing by ‘rock god’ Eric Clapton.
Now gigging round the UK with support from a bass player and drummer, Chantel, who lives with her family at Wyke, is soon off to tour Finland and Belgium.
But before then she is playing at the Meeting Room, Elland’s newest music venue, on Friday, May 18.
“It’s the first time I’ve played there and I’m really looking forward to it.
“I’m quite a shy person but I seem to lose my nerves once I get on stage.
“Playing live to a good audience is one of the best feelings in the world,” she said.
Chantel says he was given her first guitar at the age of three. She began taking lessons at seven, became the youngest person to pass a Rock School exam at eight and gigged with bands from the age of ten.
Refusing to be deterred from her dream of being a musician, she became the first student at Leeds College of Music to achieve a 100 per cent pass mark. Since leaving college she has pursued her ambition with a single-minded focus that belies her age.
“I am quite determined and I just love performing and being involved in music, I just can’t imagine doing anything else.”
Her debut album ‘Like No Other’ was released last year and she is now writing songs for her second release.
“I’m one of those people who needs total peace and quiet when I’m writing new songs. Though I absolutely love touring and want to do more of it, the writing has to stop when I’m travelling.
“I really enjoy creating my own songs - it’s a fantastic way of being able to say what I normally wouldn’t say in everyday life and getting my feelings out.”
Last year Chantel was one of a group of artists selected for the BBC Introducing Masterclass 2012, an initiative designed to support unsigned and undiscovered artists.
Chantel’s gig at The Meeting Room, Marshall Hall Mills, Elland, is at 7.30pm on Saturday, May 18. Tickets are £12, to book call 01422 370333.
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