Gala’s Craig all set for Armatrading opportunity

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SHE is an Ivor Novello Award winning singer born in St Kitts; he is a wee laddie from Galashiels, as described by his dad Bill.

But Craig Jeffrey, now 26, is set up link up with veteran singer Joan Armatrading on her massive UK tour after landing a support slot at her Gateshead show on October 14.

He is one of 50 or so talented acts picked by the 61-year-old to accompany her while she is on the road, as well as feature on an album.

Last week, Craig travelled to Liverpool Football Club’s Anfield stadium to meet the triple Grammy Award nominee and take part in a photoshoot alongside the other musicians.

And the promotion for the CD also included an interview with BBC Radio 2.

Singer/songwriter Craig, who plays at The Woll in Ashkirk on Friday, July 13, told TheSouthern: “Joan Armatrading invited people to submit songs in order to support her so, without my knowledge, my dad emailed in a song of mine from years ago.

“She liked it so I was picked to perform at The Sage Gateshead on October 14. It is a big venue and I expect she will have a big following.

“I do not know why the photoshoot was at Anfield, but all the musicians are being included on an artwork for the CD album.

“My song was a really rough recording and I don’t think I have played it since then so will need to learn it again before October.”

Having first gained local and national attention with his charity EP Hard to Say five years ago, Craig is thankful to Armatrading for the latest opportunity to gain valuable exposure.

He added: “There are few artists around of Joan Armatrading’s calibre who would do this. The music industry is pretty cut-throat and many don’t have the time or can’t make the time, but she has, which was really good of her. I was actually really nervous when meeting her after reading about all she has achieved.

“But she was a good laugh and spent time speaking to all the support acts, despite also having to do interviews with Radio 2.

“When I told her I would have to learn my song again, she laughed and thought I was joking.

“One of the other support acts is a guy from Edinburgh called Benny Tettey-Lartey who played at Langlee Carnival a few years ago.

“He has made his own 26-string instrument with two ukuleles and a banjo on it.

“I am currently struggling to decorate my home, never mind build my own instruments,” joked Craig, who got married last year to Lisa.

As for the future, Craig remains positive, despite not yet making a big breakthrough, as he continues to work with Donald Shaw of Vertical Records.

“I have enough songs for two or three albums, but myself and Donald have decided to release an EP for the moment, which should be out in a few months,” Craig told us.

“We were planning to be on tour, but I am quite happy just to be writing songs.

“My songs are completely different from my previous stuff, it’s more commercial. I suppose you could say I have sold out! But hopefully people will enjoy it.”

Craig Jeffrey’s gig at The Woll starts at 7.30pm and tickets (£7) are available by phoning 01750 32799.

To win the pair of tickets, answer this question:

In which venue is Craig supporting Joan Armatrading?

Send your answer, name, full address and phone number by email to kenny.paterson@tweeddalepress.co.uk or post to: Craig Jeffrey Competition, The Southern Reporter, Hermitage, High Street, Selkirk, TD7 4DA by Monday, July 9. Usual Southern rules apply.