On Tour

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The Independent Culture
I began singing in public while I was at Cardiff University. Originally I did revue work alongside Rory Bremner - we were both studying languages. We ended up playing in the same venues in Paris during our year out and both went on to the Edinburgh fringe. I saw it mainly as a way of getting an Equity card and since then I've concentrated completely on jazz singing.

I love the intimacy of jazz places, going downstairs to a basement. The difference between being on tour now and in the early days is that I'm a mum. My husband, Clark Tracey, is the quartet's drummer and we try to take our three-year-old son along.

Touring abroad has made me notice differences in the way audiences react. In Hong Kong you get spontaneous applause during a song whereas over here there is a tendency to wait for the end. It's probably a hangover from classical concerts, that feeling that you can't cough until the interval.

My worst gig was in Brecon a few years ago. I woke up with one side of my face completely swollen, my wisdom teeth had suddenly decided to do their own stuff, so I had to have an emergency removal. I then went on straight after. Luckily my face had resumed its shape.

I tend to stay at the venue to unwind. If we're in Edinburgh we'll go to The Caledonian Hotel (031-225 2433) for a wee bevvy. And there are loads of really good curry houses in Birmingham. I've made so many friends through people coming up to me after the set. Touring really brings it home that there is a big market here for British jazz. It also reminds me when I'm recording that jazz is about creating something 'live'.

Tina May appears at the High Rocks Inn, Tunbridge Wells, 17 Nov. Tour ends 14 Dec