Sussex musician's world record attempt for singing upside down
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An acclaimed jazz musician and composer who hosts a popular series of jazz breakfasts, Mike Hatchard is at home onstage. But the Hastings-based pianist will gain a new perspective on performance on 25 October as he attempts to break the world record for singing upside down.
Mike, 67, started his performing career as pianist for the National Youth Jazz Orchestra, and subsequently toured America with Cleo Laine and the John Dankworth Quintet. He has worked with many other big names, including Matt Monro, David Essex, the Pasadena Roof Orchestra, the Syd Lawrence Orchestra and Liane Carroll.
In recent years, Mike has also developed a taste for challenging himself and his musicianship in imaginative new ways. To mark his 60th birthday in 2016, he cycled from Land’s End to John O’Groats towing an electric piano, which raised almost £12,000 for Children in Need. Then, he recorded himself playing the violin upside down in response to a challenge from a friend.
This latest musical adventure came about when Mike was invited to take part in another Guiness World Record attempt. As part of Sky Portrait Artist of the Year, he will be one of hundreds of people to simultaneously draw and paint Sir Lenny Henry. “Because of that, I got interested in idly checking out world records,” he says. “I looked for upside down violin playing but it seems no-one has ever attempted that. To my great surprise, the world record for singing upside down stood at three-and-a-half minutes. That was later beaten by a girl in India, who did four-and-a-half minutes on live TV. Well, I’m three times her age and I can do three times as long, so I thought I’d have a go at beating it.”
He does perhaps have a slight advantage. More than 20 years ago, Mike started hanging upside down for 20 minutes a day, to improve his bad back. “It’s quite a habit by now,” he says. And, as someone who sings professionally, “I don’t think I sound any worse than I normally do – and anyway, when it comes to the world record, I’m not sure the quality comes into it!”
Mike’s world record attempt will take place on 25 October at the Crown and Anchor in Shoreham, raising funds for local hospice St Barnabas House. As for the repertoire, Mike promises jazz classics, popular songs and some Gilbert and Sullivan. He’ll be joined on the evening by his Shoreham-based community choir, Shoreham Singers, as well as the professional singer Shireen Francis who will join him for some Bacharach numbers, and top musicians Nils Solberg (guitar) and Harry Whitty (trombone).
Reflecting on his continuing appetite for musical adventure, Mike says: “Perhaps I'm just not comfortable with getting older. There’s a drummer I occasionally work with who is going to celebrate his 100th birthday in a couple of weeks – he is extraordinary. When I did the cycle trip, I thought I was old at the time, but I met lots of people doing similar things in their 80s. I'm more active now than I was at 30. I'm more driven than I used to be, and I suppose that comes down to the fact that you realise your time is running out. But I’m absolutely determined that if I make it to 100, I'll still be playing too.”
Mike’s Guiness World Record attempt will take place at the Crown & Anchor, Shoreham on Wednesday 25 October from 7pm. You can also support his fundraising for St Barnabas here