Country Soundcheck - with Jade Helliwell & Kezia Gill
Fans of country music will recognise these fun-loving best pals from stages across the UK and beyond.
West Yorkshire lass Jade Helliwell and Midlands-based Kezia Gill are two singers taking the British country music scene by storm. Between them, they’ve performed at prestigious events including Country2Country, The Long Road and Buckle and Boots, along with performing at famous venues across the pond such as The Bluebird Cafe.
Kezia Gill was the supporting act for The Shires on tour last year, was named as one of BBC Radio 2’s BBC Introducing Artists and last year was signed by global talent agency Wasserman Music (who also have Leanne Rimes and Lewis Capaldi on their books).
Jade Helliwell burst onto the scene in 2017 when a video of her singing with a busker in Leeds went viral. She has since performed at C2C and been awarded the title of BCMA Female Vocalist Of The Year.
In between singing, songwriting and performances, the duo took some time out with Melbelle to talk music, hosting a podcast together, touring with The Shires and what they’ve been listening to this summer.
What drew you to the country music genre?
Kezia: “Country music was always a part of my life. My Dad was a country singer , and from a young age it was always played in the house . I fell in love with the stories and the voices that told them. It’s such an honest and emotive genre and I’ve always loved it.”
Jade: “Growing up I didn’t live in a house filled with Country music other than Shania Twain’s ‘Come on over’ album playing from the kitchen! As I began writing my own songs I started listening to Taylor Swift’s first album and discovering a whole host of country artists like Carrie Underwood, Kellie Pickler and Lady A. I instantly fell in love with the story telling aspect of country music.”
What's the most exciting thing going on in country music right now?
Kezia: “There’s so much going on!! I feel like the popularity of country music in the UK has been on a steady rise over the last 10 years, and it’s definitely gaining pace. With artists like Luke combs, Shania Twain and Taylor Swift selling out shows left right and centre, it’s building a real buzz around the genre and that can only be a good thing for me and fellow British artists.”
Jade: “For me, it’s the growth and recognition of country music here in the UK. I love how over the last ten years we have seen more and more festivals starting up, more international artists coming over to tour, there are radio stations dedicated to country music and our own home grown talent is getting recognition as contributing to the country music world here in the UK. It’s exciting to see it growing and hopefully for it to continue.”
What have been your favourite places to perform to date?
Kezia: “I’ve been very honoured to have performed across some fantastic stages over the last few years, but 2 that really stand out are the London Palladium where I got to open up for The Shires
on their UK Tour, and the Glasgow Hydro Arena, where I performed on the Spotlight Stage at C2C festival in front of 12,000 people!!”
Jade: “Sooo many to choose from! One has to be this years C2C where I played to a capacity crowd at The Town Square (Barrelhouse). Another would be headlining last years Buckle & Boots festival. It’s one of my favourite country festivals so to have the honour to headline was unbelievable!”
Do you have a favourite Melbelle item?
Kezia (pictured right): “I adore my Melbelle Xmas Jumper!! It’s just a shame I only get to wear it for a few weeks of the year!!”
Jade (pictured below): “My favourite item is my denim stars jacket – I wear it with everything. Double denim looks with jeans, over dresses, over short and a crop, it just adds a little country flare to all my outfits!”
Earlier this year, the two of you launched a podcast! What prompted this? And what can viewers expect on the podcast?
Kezia: “Jade and I are such good friends, and spend most of our time talking about music, sharing stories and confiding in each other about the highs and lows of the industry. We just thought it might be interesting to share some of that inside info and let people into some of the behind the scenes action!! There’s so much that goes into making music, and a lot of it goes completely unnoticed by the public, so we thought it’d be cool to talk about some of the work that goes into being an independent artist. People can expect honesty, lots of laughs and a rare glimpse into our vulnerable sides.”
Jade: “The podcast has truly been something we have loved every moment of. Kezia and I are best friends so this is a real insight into the kind of conversations we have away from the mic. We just really wanted to share a little bit of what it is like to be an independent artist in 2023 and allow the fans to have a peek at what goes on behind the scenes.”
You guys have so many exciting things going on professionally, what would you say you're most excited about?
Kezia: “I’m super excited to be heading out on tour in October! We’re hitting 8 cities across the UK, and some venues have already sold out! A years worth of making and releasing an album has been amazing but nothing is gonna beat taking that new music out on tour.”
Jade: “I am super excited for my tour in November. I’ve partnered with Sony owned Senbla and UK Country Live! To take the show up and down the country. Touring with the band is my favourite thing to do so I can’t wait to get out and play for everyone.”
Kezia Gill's Country Playlist
Misfit – Kezia Gill
Diane – Cam
Redhead – Caylee Hammack
Man I Feel Like A Woman – Shania
Parachute – Chris Stapleton
Story – Drake White
Somethin’ Bad – Miranda & Carrie
Beer Never Broke My Heart – Luke Combs
Fishin In The Dark – Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
Praise The Lord – Breland
Jade Helliwell's Country Playlist
Woman I Am – Jade Helliwell
Tennessee Orange – Megan Moroney
Summer Don’t Go – Tenille Arts
That Dog – Caylee Hammack
Need a Favour – Jelly Roll
Day Drinking – Little Big Town
Bartender – Lady A
Watermelon Moonshine – Lainey Wilson
17th – Manchester Academy3
20th – Birmingham Sunflower Lounge
21st – London 100 Club
23rd – Glasgow Stereo
24th – Newcastle Cluny 2
26th – Leeds Brudenell Social Club
13th – Leeds Brudenell Social Club
14th – Glasgow Oran Mor
15th – Manchester Gorilla
16th – London Lafayette
18th – Norwich The Waterfront Studio
19th – Bristol Exchange
20th – Birmingham 02 Institute3
21st – Nottingham Rescue Rooms