Jodie Marie - The shy singer who became a folk-pop sensation

But for a chance encounter in a B&B in west Wales, Jodie Marie might never have got a record deal. She still can't quite believe it's all happening, she tells Elisa Bray

Jodie Marie's launch into the music industry sounds so like a fairytale it could have been concocted by a publicity-hungry record label (it wasn't). One day the landlady of a B&B in a tiny village in west Wales, where 16-year-old Marie's father worked as a plumber, overheard a guest discuss his son's work in the music business. She recommended he listen to the plumber's daughter, and played a CD to the man over breakfast the next morning. Shortly after, Marie found herself with a manager, and now, four years down the line, a debut album of folk-pop that has been championed by critics across the board.

"I didn't think too much about it", Marie says, recalling the moment her father asked her to dig out a CD of her songs. "No one comes down to Narberth in Pembrokeshire. It was just a CD of covers I'd put together when I was 14, so it wasn't anything special."

Marie then found herself in London, writing songs with Ed Harcourt and Bernard Butler. Although, at just 16, she had no idea who Butler was. "Looking back I'm really thankful that I didn't know who he was because I was nervous enough as it was. I remember sitting opposite him and he obviously could see this nervous 16-year-old. 'Hi, I'm Jodie,'" she mimics her tiny, petrified voice. "I remember singing a Bonnie Raitt cover of 'Guilty', a blues song, then he said, 'OK, how about your own stuff?' I brought out 'Single Blank Canvas'. That was the first time I'd played my music to anyone."

Before being thrust into a songwriting collaboration with Butler, Marie had only written songs in her bedroom. The code for her parents so they knew not to disturb her was a tie-dye scarf that the embarrassed school girl would tie to the door. While studying for her A-levels, she made trips back and forth from Wales to London for sessions with Butler, but so cautious was the young singer-songwriter that she kept it all a secret from everyone but her family and one friend.

"I remember itching to tell them, but it was just too good to be true at this point. I wanted to perform, I wanted be a singer songwriter, but in my head I didn't know if it would take off."

Of course, it did, and the songs she penned alongside Butler led to a deal with Verve. The first time she met Simon Gavin, who signed Duffy (although the singers' similarities are limited to being female and Welsh), he had travelled hours to her home, proof to the still doubtful singer that it was really happening.

"How often do you get somebody from a label in London come four-and-a-half hours in the car down to west Wales to meet you? All the music I listened to was on Verve. I thought, 'How is this happening? This is amazing.' My mum cooked him chilli because they'd been travelling all day." The second time she met Gavin in 2010, she was signing on the dotted line.

When her friends did eventually find out, it wouldn't have been too much of a surprise. Everyone in the neighbourhood knew that Marie could sing. She had been singing since she was tiny: ever since her teacher spotted her talent aged six she'd taken classical singing lessons, honing her smooth, lilting voice, and she performed her first out-of-school gig at seven. "I was wearing a little velvet brown dress and I was ruffling it, creasing the bottom, because I was so nervous."

In her mid-teens she was holding down three jobs – shifts at the local rugby club bar, cleaning and working at a petrol station – in addition to singing regular solos alongside adult choirs, gigs in restaurants and her most nerve-wracking commission, singing the first dance at a wedding.

How did she celebrate her record deal? "The day that Simon came down we were so excited we celebrated that night. I was home with my boyfriend, dad and mum and I love dark rum so we had Sailor Jerry and put on a load of old Decca records. When I was signed my family threw a surprise party. I'd had a really long day at the rugby club and all of my friends were sitting up the stairs dressed in 1950s outfits. On my bed was a 1950s rockabilly dress they'd bought me with a note on it: 'Wear me.'"

That her album Mountain Echo sounds rooted in the music of the past, its light-blues and jazz-folk-edge recalling late-1960s singer-songwriters such as Carole King, is explained by the music that she grew up surrounded by. The family home was full of old vinyl by blues artists Albert King, Elmore James and Stevie Ray Vaughan. "My dad was always playing guitar in the back room singing all these old blues songs when I was in bed. I could hear him so I'd go in and sing along and learn them while he was playing and creep back to bed. I just loved the music."

She came across her biggest influence, Bonnie Raitt, aged 10 via a Stevie Ray Vaughan tribute video on her parents' shelf. "I remember watching it and seeing this slide guitar player – this girl. All the rest I'd grown up listening to were guys so it was the first time I'd seen a female just rocking out on this guitar. I loved that sound, I loved the rawness. They're baring their souls. That's what I was drawn to; it's a truth in their lyrics and music, and that's what I try to put across in my music."

If that is her goal, Marie has succeeded: the album drips with emotion, partly from the homesickness that plagued her as she spent so much time in London away from family and the familiar lush mountains of Wales, not least on the album's final song "Mountain Echo". It was written just after the Sparklehorse singer Mark Linkous, a close friend of Ed Harcourt, had died. Marie went to the songwriting session to find Harcourt quiet and upset. "Obviously his way of coping, as with any musician, is to write through the pain – he was adamant he wanted to write. And I was missing home at this time, so it was a very emotional day in that studio. I always have this image of the mountains at home and I'm looking across at them. All the songs are things I want to tell people, so hopefully now everyone will hear what I've been trying to say all along."

The single "Numb" is out on Monday. Jodie Marie is on tour 14-18 May

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Radio 4's Today programme host Evan Davis has been announced as the new face of Newsnight

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams performing on the Main Stage at the Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park, north London

music
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Mathison returns to the field in the fourth season of Showtime's Homeland

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Crowds soak up the atmosphere at Latitude Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Meyne Wyatt and Caren Pistorus arrive for the AACTA Aawrds in Sydney, Australia

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rick Astley's original music video for 'Never Gonna Give You Up' has been removed from YouTube

music
Arts and Entertainment
Quentin Blake's 'Artists on the beach'

Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beach

art
Arts and Entertainment
MusicFans were left disappointed after technical issues
Arts and Entertainment
'Girl with a Pearl Earring' by Johannes Vermeer, c. 1665
artWhat is it about the period that so enthrals novelists?
Arts and Entertainment
Into the woods: The Merry Wives of Windsor at Petersfield
theatreOpen-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Arts and Entertainment
James singer Tim Booth
latitude 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Lee says: 'I never, ever set out to offend, but it can be an accidental by-product'
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe judges were wowed by the actress' individual cooking style
Arts and Entertainment
Nicholas says that he still feels lucky to be able to do what he loves, but that there is much about being in a band he hates
musicThere is much about being in a band that he hates, but his debut album is suffused with regret
Arts and Entertainment
The singer, who herself is openly bisexual, praised the 19-year-old sportsman before launching into a tirade about the upcoming Winter Olympics

books
Arts and Entertainment
music
Arts and Entertainment
Jon Cryer and Ashton Kutcher in the eleventh season of Two and a Half Men

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

film
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

    A land of the outright bizarre
    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
    Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

    The worst kept secret in cinema

    A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
    Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
    Why do we have blood types?

    Are you my type?

    All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
    Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

    Honesty box hotels

    Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

    Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

    The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
    Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

    The 'scroungers’ fight back

    The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
    Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

    Fireballs in space

    Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
    A Bible for billionaires

    A Bible for billionaires

    Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
    Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

    Paranoid parenting is on the rise

    And our children are suffering because of it
    For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

    Magna Carta Island goes on sale

    Yours for a cool £4m
    Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn