NEWS PAGE & BLOG


Hello one and all and welcome to my news page. Here you can see me as my two alter egos the ever efficient secretary Prudie Jones, Evette the Spivette and plain old little me as you catch up with all that is current in my world. Regrettably unlike Prudie my spelling is quite frightful at the best of times due to my dyslexia so I shall apologise now for anything which might be shamefully mis-spelt. In the mean time I hope you find this page fun, entertaining and informative and become a regular visitor to my site.

Chat soon & keep reading
Fiona Harrison
A Voice in a Million


Stupid Cupid Ramps up 1000 Views in Just 9 Days!

Stupid Cupid!

I’d like to begin my blog tonight by thanking every-one who has watched my new 1960s “Stupid Cupid” flicker book video. For those of you who follow me will know I launched the video to tie in with Valentines Day and we have already had over 1000 views. Thank-you every-one for your lovely comments and I’m thrilled it’s brought so much pleasure to so many.

This week my video story was featured in the Leighton Buzzard Observer and also on line. You can read the article in full by clicking the link below https://www.leightonbuzzardonline.co.uk/news/people/leighton-buzzard-singer-releases-stupid-cupid-new-flicker-book-video-ahead-valentines-day-3131447

Making Press!

This weekend I’m looking forward to being back on the road again. I have a Driveway Concert to perform this Sunday which will be featuring songs from the 1950s, 60s and 70s. I’m really looking forward to it as the weather reports are looking good and I have a terrific show planed. These last couple of months I’ve been performing via zoom so I can’t wait be singing out-doors again.

Although I’ve been broadcasting from home having my equipment set up has proved to be very advantageous. I don’t like to waist time and not travelling to venues has  enabled me to rehearse more. I try and sing for a couple of hours a day and I’ve spent much of my time going over words and old repertoire. It’s been good for me to tackle a few of those tricky numbers I’ve put to one side.

Learning gets easier with practice as the brain is taught to retain and to remember. I usually learn parrot fashion by playing my songs over and over again in my van when I’m driving to venues. This time I can see the words on my music stand and I’ve been using a different technique where I remember key words which enables me to sing the line through with-out forgetting.

Speaking of which I need to get back and learn some more before bed.

Thanks for Following and Toodle Pip! 😉

 


Launching Stupid Cupid for Valentines Day with the MGA 1600 & Jaguar XK150

Walking by the Canal in Leighton Buzzard!

It was lovely to see a little flurry of snow a day or two ago although here in Leighton Buzzard we are quite sheltered. I go out running every day but sometimes I change my routine and go for a walk along the canal tow path instead. It’s a popular walk for locals especially as you can combine your walk with a trip to Tesco. Tesco’s store is located right alongside the canal path in Leighton Buzzard so you can do your shopping at the same time.

Today the snow has almost thawed away and it’s back to the old routine of running, office work and song learning. It’s a shame because I’ve been

MGA 1600 Jaguar XK150

Me with the MGA 1600 & Jaguar XK150

wanting to do a Christmas Snowy photo shoot for a number of years. Like any shoot there’s a lot to it, and it’s quite a business combining the Christmas look with snow. These shoots nearly always have to be done in February and usually at short notice. We’ve not really had any snow around here for a couple of years and due to the lock down no-one is allowed to travel anyway, so I guess it’s one of those shoots I will have to put on hold for another year.

Me in my 60s fashions with the MGA 1600!

I always believe in taking opportunities when they come and I’m so pleased I was able to squeeze in my 60s photo shoot with Angela Adams back in September between lock downs. I remember it was all very touch and go at the time and at one point I didn’t think we were going to be able to go a head; but then just at the last minute I was able to coordinate the shoot with two wonderful vintage cars from the 1960s the MGA 1600 and Jaguar XK150 which really made the shoot.

If a thing is worth doing it’s worth doing right

Fiona Harrison Jaguar XK150

The Jaguar XK150

and it’s good to do shoots out in the open at interesting  locations. If possible I like to include props of interest and vintage vehicles tick all the right boxes. When it comes to sending out publicity clients love to see vintage vehicles and  I’m always keeping my eyes open for places of interest.

This week I’m thrilled to announce the launch of my new flicker book video for Valentines Day, Stupid Cupid. As you’ve probably guest I’ve used the photos from my 1960s shot staring along side the MGA 1600 and Jaguar XK150. I owe a big thank-you to Peter Macwaters and John Greenwood for allowing me to be photographed with their beautiful vehicles and to David Cantor for letting the shot take place in his paddock. Peter and Karen Hardicker of Everything Sorted produced the video for me and you can see it by clicking the link below.

That’s all my news for the moment as I get back to work and continue learning new songs for 2021.

It’s been good for me to go over some of my old repertoire and I plan to continue with my driveway concerts for the Spring and well into Summer. I hope it wont be too long before the world can get back to some sort of normality and we can say goodbye to Covid-19.

In the meantime thank-you for following, enjoy the video, Toodle Pip and bye for now! 😉


What the Papers Say, Safety Fast & You’ll Never Walk Alone!

What the Papers Say In Lock Down!

May I start my blog this week by saying how sorry I was to hear about the passing of Sir Captain Tom. A wonderful war veteran who inspired us all by walking a hundred laps of his garden and in doing so managed to raise over 33 million for the NHS. It’s been a difficult year but who couldn’t have been up lifted by Captain Tom’s efforts, winning smile and his glorious optimism during this horrible pandemic.  Our thoughts and prays are with his family and all the NHS staff who were nursing him at Bedford hospital.

Thank-you to every-one for your feed back on last week blog when I posted up an article on cigarette advertising.  I had written this article for a magazine a couple of years ago but sadly it never got published but I thought it would make a change from me reporting on the usual. Thank-you to every-one for your comments and I’m glad you all enjoyed reading it. Cigarette advertising is a fascinating subject and I remember how much I enjoyed researching the history, before putting pen to paper.

Walking Through Leighton Buzzard in Lock-down!

Meanwhile life in lock-down does tend to follow the same routine but on the plus side it has given me plenty of time to rehearse new songs and go over some old ones I’ve not sung in a while. For those of you who follow me on facebook you will have seen me posting up live streams of me performing a variety  of different numbers to lift morale in lock-down. Today’s song was “You’ll Never Walk Alone” especially sung in remembrance for Captain Tom just before we all went outside and clapped for him at 6pm.

Out of all the songs I’ve steamed in the last few

One of My Press Cuttings from the Past!

weeks my favorites have been Nat King Cole’s L-O-V-E, Sandie Shaw’s “Puppet on a String” and Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5”. I’m currently going back over “Love is like a Butterfly” and Abba’s “Fernando” so keep following.

I’m thrilled to report that this week we were able to go live with my new web-page “What the Papers Say”. It’s a work in progress and when it comes to press cuttings I have a huge file, so picking out a few was hard. This is just the beginning and I hope to add more over time. For the moment we have a broad selection charting my career from the 1990s to the present day. These include reviews from classical concerts to Driveway shows in lock-down. If  you would like to to read my news and reviews page please click the link below.

https://www.fionaharrison.biz/what-the-papers-say/

Safety Fast Feature!

Another great piece of media I was featured in this week was a write up in the MG Car Club magazine “Safety Fast” on the 1960s photo shoot I did in Oxfordshire back in September. Once again I was working with top photographer Angela Adams and the shoot involved me modelling with two lovely vintage vehicles from the 1960s the MG A-1600 and  Jaguar XK150. Some of you may remember seeing the photos on my social media pages. Naturally Safety Fast were interested in the MG shots and I enclose the write up which was sent in by Peter Macwaters who, incidentally is also the proud owner of the the lovely red MG.

I’m currently working on a new flicker book video for Valentines Day which will be featuring my favorite shots from this shot so watch this space.

That’s all my news for now. Toodle Pip and Bye for now! 😉

The MG A-1600!

 

 

 


The History of Cigarette Advertising!

 

Fiona Harrison as Evette the Spivette

On Stage as Evette the Spivette!

This week I’ve decided to do something a little different blog wise and  publish an article I wrote a couple of years ago on Cigarette advertising. It may seem  strange that I would take an interest in such peculiar subject, especially as I am an avid non smoker and  I hate to be anywhere near cigarette smoke. I decided to write this piece after being inspired by the series Mad Men. It featured a lot of references to cigarette advertising in the 1960s and I was keen to find out more. This article is the result and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did researching it.

Over the years the tobacco industry has used every emotional tool imaginable to engage it’s audience, focusing on powerful imagery through advertising and endorsements. Who can forget those iconic Hollywood images of Marlene Dietrich, Humphrey Bogart and Joan Crawford holding cigarettes as tobacco companies would cross collaborate in movie promotions.

Spiv Evette the Spivette

The Black & White Smoking Look!

Although an advocate of anti smoking I too have been pictured with a cigarette while advertising my alter ego Evette the Spivette. When looking at old advertisements I can’t help but gaze in wonder at the master marketers who have helped to shape modern culture.

The first cigarettes were smoked by the Mayans over 1000 years ago. It wasn’t until the 17th century that the Spanish introduced smoking into Europe and by the 19th century smoking was reserved exclusively for the wealthy.

Each cigar or tiny cigarette had to be hand rolled. The average worker could roll between two hundred to five hundred cigarettes a day and it wasn’t until the invention of the Bonsack machine in 1881 that cigarettes became affordable to the mass market. Almost over night the Bonsack machine revolutionised production producing a hundred thousand cigarettes a day and with the introduction of the safety match it made cigarettes far easier for the public to light.

Evette with a Couple of Brands!

In the 1850s the British, French, and Sardinians fought along side the Turks in the Crimean War. It was at this time that Turkish cigarettes were past-over into western culture.

The tobacco industry was at the fore-front of modern advertising and as new printing techniques became available in the late 19th century cigarette firms engaged the best copy writers and artists to invoke images of exoticism and travel in their marketing. The Turkish cigarette brand Murad used images of sultans and beautiful women with pictures of the orient in it’s advertising to entice the west. In return it would use images of colonialism and western culture when selling it’s cigarettes back to the east.

In 1913 Camels ran a full page add in all the American newspapers on the same day. This had never been done before and all it said was “Camels are coming!”. On the next day the add read “There will be more Camels in your city than in all of Arabia!” and still nobody knew what camels were. On the third day the full page advert read “Today you can purchase your Camels cigarettes at you local tobacconist. Camel cigarettes are here!”.

So successful was this campaign that Camels quickly captured 50% of the market as similar campaigns were run in other countries.

Lucky Strike had wanted to change it’s colours for years. This opportunity presented itself during WW2 when it made up the story that the critical war material of green copper went into it’s packaging. Brilliantly the brand marketed itself with the patriotic slogan “Lucky Strike (Green) has gone to War” which proved to be extremely popular not only with men but with women on the home front.

Prior to WW1 no respectable woman would be seen in public with a cigarette as it was symbolic of a prostitute. During the first world war more women started to smoke covertly in the privacy of their own homes, however smoking was still considered to be impolite in public. The tobacco industry realised it was missing out on 50% of it’s selling potential and wanted to change public perception.

In 1926 Chesterfield ran an add which pictured a woman sitting next to a smoking man with the slogan “Blow some my way”. During the war many women had taken on the roles of men and with growing support for the Suffrage and women’s rights tobacco companies were quick to seize the opportunity.

In 1927 Lucky Strike employed Edward L Bernays who is fondly referred to as “the father of public relations”. Lucky Strike wanted to associate it’s product with fine dining and his job was to change public opinion about smoking in restaurants.

Before this time it was considered rude to smoke after a meal in a restaurant until Bernays came up with the slogan “Reach for Lucky instead of a sweet!”. This slogan also appealed to women and coincided with the Suffragettes matching in New York’s Easter Parade. The right for a woman to smoke with-out ridicule was supported by the suffragettes and within the space of a couple of years smoking in restaurants became acceptable due to a change in attitudes and popular culture. Europe was quick to follow as every flapper wanted to appear fashionable and up with the times.

Seizing the 1927 moment Marlboro were the first cigarette brand to target women directly. It market itself as an elegant woman’s cigarette with “Ivory tips to protect the lips”. Later Benson and Hedges produced a Debs brand with rose tips so you wouldn’t see traces of lip stick while other companies produced long slim cigarettes in elegant boxes implying you would stay slim by smoking them. The most famous brand and still produced in Old Bond Street, London today is the Sobranie Cocktail. This cigarette comes in five separate pastel shades and has a gold filter making it one of the most sophisticated cigarettes on the market.

After several decades of picturing elegant women in repose Marlboro felt it’s product lacked lustre. In 1954 it underwent a sex change and the Marlboro man was born. By picturing a cowboy both sexes were attracted to the new rugged image as Marlboro’s sales increased.

It was as early as the 1920s that the public first started to be concerned that smoking might be dangerous. However the tobacco industry was quick to dismiss these claims as unfounded saying more research was needed. It’s glamorous advertisements and sporting endorsements gave the impression of health and beauty and it wasn’t until the 1950s when the Readers Digest published an article entitled “Cancer by the Carton” that the public started to question the health implications.

Ever evolving and adapting cigarette brands started to use pictures of Doctors in their advertising with slogans saying “More doctors recommend Camel cigarettes than any other” or “Filters best” and “It takes the you know what out of smoking” not that anyone quite knew what the you know what was.

The American Kent brand introduced the Micronite filter in the early 1950s after concerns grew over the Reader Digest article. Kent promised consumers “The greatest health protection in history” and marketed itself as the smart cigarette smoked by educated professionals until it was realized that the filter tip was made of asbestos resulting in a number of expensive legal cases.

Today tobacco advertising has completely disappeared from magazines, television and sporting events. The imagery and slogans these adds leave behind give us a wonderful insight into 20th century life and culture.

That’s my article. Next week I shall tell you more about my new web-page “What the Papers Say” and my new flicker book video “Stupid Cupid” for Valentines Day.

Keep Following, Toodle Pip and Bye for Now! 😉


The Covid – 19 Vaccination Experience & Business as Usual!

Mum Waits to be Vaccinated!

Driving Over to Stevenage!

I don’t really have that much to report other than I took my mother over to Stevenage last Thursday for her Covid-19 vaccination. We had been looking forward to it and we both enjoyed the run out which made a change from Tescos. The center was extremely well run and organised and at the time of booking the center in Leighton Buzzard hadn’t opened. My mother was once of the first of the over 80s group in Leighton Buzzard to receive  her jab and we are all looking forward to better times ahead.

My mothers trip to Stevenage was the highlight of the week and made a change from my usual routine. This usually consists of a good morning run, phone calls and office work in the afternoon and singing rehearsals in the evening. I’m continuing to learn new numbers and practice my musical arrangements. I don’t normally get this much time to rehearse and it has been good for me to go over some of my old repertoire. I’ve been learning “Stupid Cupid”, “Puppet on a String”  and Dolly Parton’s 9 – 5 to name a few while exercising at the same time. Singing and exercising together is good for my physical fitness.

Fiona Harrison - vintage singer

Out-Side The Control Tower, Egmere!

In the kitchen!

Up on the Roof!

It’s going to be a while yet before things get back to normal so I’m ploughing ahead with zoom shows and Driveway Concerts for the Spring and Summer Seasons. By the Autumn I hope more events will open up but for the moment the world is on hold. Fortunately I am getting bookings and I was able to sell another three dates today. It’s hard going but the work is out there if you care to look and think imaginatively.

Once the world has turned the pandemic corner and we’ve received our vaccinations then there will be a great demand for live entertainment. Every-one is going just that little bit bonkers and I’m looking forward to the time when I can perform in front of a large audience with-out the aid of a computer screen.

It’s important to keep busy and I’ve been designing new pages for my web-site including “What the papers say”.  Last weekend I spent the time going through my old press cuttings and I plan to have a selection of these up on line before too long. It’s been interesting to read them again, they chart my career from the 90s through to the present day and all the things I’ve done from classical concerts to Rock and roll. It’s easy to forget just how much I have done over the years and they will make a lovely addition to my web-site.

That’s all my news for now and as I haven’t been out taking photos this week I shall leave you with a few of my favorite shots from the 1940s Control Tower shot I did with Angela Adams a few years ago.

Keep Following and Toodle Pip! 😉


Vintage Shows & Moving Forward into 2021!

Fiona Harrison - vintage singer

Looking Forward to 2021!

Despite us all living though another serious lock down it’s still very much business as usual here at Harrison HQ. There’s never a shortage of work to be done and I’m constantly planning, designing and thinking about how I can improve my shows and media presentation. Which is why I’m thrilled to announce the introduction of a new Vintage Shows Page to my web-site. Karen and I launched it this week and you can view this new page by clicking the link below.

https://www.fionaharrison.biz/vintage-shows/

Even in the Car Park The Show Must Go On!

I’m particularly proud of the photos. It’s taken me years to put this collection together. A lot of thought and planning goes into all my pages but I thought it would be easier for clients to have all my vintage shows in one place. I currently have 25 different shows in my repertoire but listing them all on one page can turn into something of a scroll. It’s important clients can find the information they need quickly which is why I thought this page would be a great addition to my web-site. It is my intention to add a Seasonal Shows page in time but for the moment that’s a project for another day when I have collected together the right imagery.

We'll Meet Again - Fiona Harrison - 60s vintage singer

Images from My New Vintage Shows page!

Fiona Harrison - 1960s vintage singer

I’ve Got a Ticket to Ride in the 60s Style!

I also have to start work on sorting out my press cuttings for “What the Papers Say”. I still haven’t quite got my head around how this page will look but I dare say once I start sorting out my cuttings the eureka moment will come and everything will fall into place.

For now I have lots of songs and new arrangements to learn as I prepare myself for the Spring season. I’m still able to sing out-doors and yesterday I was performing in a car park for a care home in Farnham Common. Music is so important for peoples mental health and I’m enjoying figuring out how to deal with all the different challenges this pandemic is causing while still maintaining social distancing and keeping every-one safe.

Yesterday I needed three speakers to make my show work. It’s really too cold to have doors and windows open so I had two Ev 300s with me in the car park and another smaller speaker which I daisy chained inside the home so the residence could hear. I was booked to perform my “Happy New Year Winter Warmer” show for the residence which went down extremely well. This show includes lots of feel good tunes from the 1950s, 60s and 70s and it was lovely to see the residences singing along with me through the windows. I was also able to try out two of my new songs Connie Francis’s Stupid Cupid and Nat King Cole’s L-O-V-E as I prepare for Valentines Day.

Keep Following and Toodle Pip! 😉

 


Aladdin, Up Dating the Swinging 60s & Getting Set for 2021!

Going 1960s

Fiona Harrison - 1950s and 1960s vintage singer

I’ve Got a ticket to Ride!

Happy New Year every-one and here’s to a fantastic 2021! Now we are into a fresh new year there’s plenty of work to be done and I’ve been busy this week working with my web-designer Karen. We’ve been up dating my web-site as I thought it was high time we refreshed and introduced a couple of new pages. I’ve been going through  photos and we’ve already up dated my Shows page by adding in more information about my Zoom shows and Driveway concerts. Do take a peek https://www.fionaharrison.biz/shows/

Some of you may remember I did a 1960s photo shoot back in September with photographer Angela Adams. Naturally I’ve been keen to add these shots to my 1950s & 60s page especially as they feature two lovely vintage cars from the 1960s.  A lot of thought goes into my web-site and it takes an age going through photos trying to find exactly the right shot to sell each show. I was so pleased I was able to squeeze the 60s shoot in last year, between lock downs as I felt some of my previous photos were a little tame fashion wise. You can’t really do the 60s without including white boots and mini skirts and it’s good I now have that part of my vintage wardrobe

New Years Day Driveway Concert!

Other pages I have in the pipeline include Vintage Shows and What the Papers Say so keep watching this space.

Another exciting job I was able to complete this week was picking up my new Aladdin arrangement. Richard is the best musical arranger I know and what he’s produced for me this Christmas is phenomenal. Aladdin will be a great addition to my repertoire as it ticks my Musical Theater, Hollywood box. The fact it’s Disney and magical makes it’s perfect for Halloween, Christmas and the Panto season not to mention ideal for family audiences and Driveway concerts

The Aladdin Vocal Score!

too. At just under eight minutes it quite the monster, however the advantage of this medley is it can be sung in two half’s or whole which is extremely useful when I’m performing a “Magic of the Musicals” show as 2 x 45 minute sets. It gives me the option of finishing the first half of my show with “A Friend like Me” and “Prince Ali” plus I can open the second half of my concert with “Arabian Nights”, “One Jump” and “A Whole New World”. It’s really versatile which helps no end with show planning.

Looking back on 2020 I’m pleased I’ve been able to learn how to stream and do zoom shows. I feel this to be a great achievement and a major step forward for me technologically. There is so much one needs to know and usually when I pick up a new arrangement from Richard I record a demo track at the same time. Due to the lock down rules things had to be done slightly differently and it was necessary for me to record

Happy New Year!

my vocals at home by singing into my phone.  I then e-mailed my recording to Richard which he then synced with the track. These recordings help me to learn my words quickly and I’m looking forward very much to performing Aladdin soon. So we didn’t break the lock down, when I went to the studio this time I had to stay out-side. I also had a number of other songs to pick up which I will be rehearsing and adding into my shows before very long.

As for the rest of the week I have a number of contracts to do as I continue with my Driveway concerts. As long as people watch me from their own gardens and driveways these style of performances are still permissible due to the fact I’m one person rather than part of a band. I expect I will be performing Driveway concerts for much of this year until Covid – 19 is a singed to history once we’ve all been vaccinated. Lets hope that’s soon.

I shall leave you with a few of my 60s photos and shots from my New Years Day Driveway Concert.

Keep Following and Toodle Pip! 😉


Zooming, Happy New Year & Hello 2021!

In Costume at Shuttleworth House!

Walking in the Grounds in Victorian Costume!

Once again it’s just a very quick blog tonight as I get ready to welcome in the New Year. It was lovely to have a couple of days off over Christmas with my family, although I was soon back to work on the 27th performing via zoom for my customers. I just have two more Driveway Concerts to perform for New Years Eve and New Years Day before I sign off on 2020 and welcome in 2021.

Zoom is still a very daunting concept for many and there are so many factors which need to be right, including the use of a mixer which clicks into my amp and phone, good wifi, atmospherics and every-body confident in the knowledge of what they need to do to make the technology work. Today’s show went out to one of my customers on Hayling Island in Hampshire. The show couldn’t have gone better even though I was working blind. Not everyone has a web-cam but as I was able to hear my audience and I knew they could hear and see me clearly, performing proficiently wasn’t a problem.

It’s taken me a few shows to perfect the art of performing for zoom, and believe me there is an art to it. Audiences often view zoom as a TV

Inside Shuttleworth House 1940s style!

Off to the Ball!

program so it’s important not to expect applause after each song and to talk to camera, often adding in personal references the audience can relate to. This is essential. I’m now realising that using more of a stand-up comedy approach between songs works better along with observational humor, especially when it’s on the subject of zoom itself. It requires a team effort  and you need to be able to make people laugh for the engagement to be complete. It’s been an interesting experience and good for me to experiment with my performance style. I’ve enjoyed drawing on my experience and going back to basics with observational humour.

Realistically I expect it won’t be until the late Spring early Summer before I will be able to perform normally again so it’s important I perfect zoom and encourage more of my customers to take it up.

I shall leave my blog here tonight and as I’ve been enjoying something of a holiday I haven’t taken any working photos this week. I shall leave you with a few of my vintage favourites which were shot by Angela Adams at Shuttleworth House a year or two ago.

Here’s to a Fantastic 2021 Toodle Pip and Bye for Now! 😉


Back to Top