Black Country blues singer Rebecca Downes was on holiday in Greece when this year’s British Blues Awards took place.
She’d been nominated for best female vocalist and best emerging artist – and she was sure she wouldn’t win.
“I know everyone says it, but I didn’t think they’d read out my name.” So Rebecca flew to southern Europe and assumed she’d win nothing more than a runner-up prize.
“When they read out the awards, one of my mates who was at the ceremony held a mobile phone up to the speaker so I could hear. Then they read my name. I went wild.
“I threw my phone in the air and it ended up in the sand on the beach. I couldn’t believe it. I’m just a down to earth singer, I didn’t think I’d win,” she said.
The rising blues star started singing in Wolverhampton at the age of 13. She’d grown up in the city – her parents still live in Finchfield – and music was all she wanted to do. “I remember my second gig, it was at Cedars Club in Castlecroft. It was great. I just wanted to do that. I loved it.”
Like all emerging artists, Rebecca has had more than her fair share of ups and downs. But the moment she stood behind the mic she knew she couldn’t go back.
“It was never easy. But I always knew I had to keep going. The first time I sang was an audition for a band when I was at school. It was in the lunch hour. As soon as I was stood behind the mic that was it. I had an epiphany. I’d been waiting for it all my life.”
She studied for a fine art degree at Staffordshire University and was in and out of work for a while, playing in bands before going solo. Her perseverance paid off when she teamed up with her co-songwriter Steve Birkett. Then she met Magnum producer Mark Stewart, who decided to record her.
Her debut album – Back To The Start – followed and now she’s established herself on Britain’s blues rock scene.
“We’re busy. I’m permanently on the road. We’ve got a live album coming out on November 1 and we’re back at the Robin 2, Bilston, on November 11 for the UK Blues Challenge.” It’ll be her fourth gig there this year. “I love it. Mike, the guy who runs it, is a star. He makes such a great contribution to the Black Country.”
Rebecca’s living the dream. “It’s everything I’ve always wanted. Seeing my CDs in HMV gives me the best feeling in the world. I can’t even describe it. It’s magical.”
By Andy Richardson