Kaz: helping others through music

Northern Ireland's multi award-winning, song-writing blues singer Kaz Hawkins offers hope through her music '“ her way through her own tough times in the past.
Kaz HawkinsKaz Hawkins
Kaz Hawkins

Kaz, who brings The Kaz Hawkins Band to Chichester’s Chichester Inn on Wednesday, May 24 at 8.30pm, is still enjoying the success of her second album Feelin’ Good which won the IBBA (International Blues Broadcasters Association) Album of the Year 2016.

“I think we created something that was fresh and new, plus I am not a natural 12-bar blues. The bar is higher. My music is blues and soul and rock ‘n’ roll. People like to tag you with one genre, but there is so much more to my song-writing. I write in a lot of different genres. For me, there are enough people doing 12-bar blues.

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“Feelin’ Good was about my life. Some of the songs were really touching and raw. Some were about my childhood. Growing up in Northern Ireland was about bombs and bullets, but I was also being sexually abused as a child. I wrote the song Soul Superstar to my childhood self because at the time I thought I was the weak one. But now I realise I was the strong one.

“I suppose it gets easier as time goes on. I tell the story on stage. I always dedicate it to people that still have dreams. It’s just a lesson to never give up. I don’t think you ever get over it, you try to move on. It ruined my life on the one hand, but it was the music that saved me. I use music and my story now to help others. Music is now my crutch which helped me with my mental health.

“I had always written, but I didn’t perform my own songs until five or six years ago. I had always sung cover songs, but I had been a secret song-writer. All my journals through my childhood and adulthood… when I started looking at them, I realised all the journals were rhyming. A lot of the songs were already there.”

And then she made the breakthrough of performing her own material.

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“I suppose my confidence had grown. I had overcome a lot of issues like drug addiction and suicidal thoughts. I went cold turkey on medication and literally replaced it with music. I was always searching for ways to keep the feeling going. When I started song-writing properly five or six years ago, it just came naturally. I found it was the most comfortable place I had ever been. I always tell people that it took me 20 years to be me. The timing was right.”

She isn’t wishing she had tried it before: “I am not going to waste time on regrets. It took me so many years to get to this point.

“A lot of great artists have not been through a lot of trauma. They have a net to tap into what other people have gone through. They don’t have to go through it themselves. But I think it brings you an essence of authenticity and truth. I always try to be very honest on stage, no holds barred. Artists need to stand up and be counted, especially where depression is concerned. Depression nearly killed me, but my love of music saw me through.

“Now I know my legacy on earth is to help others through my music.”

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