Meet the Scorton based singer/songwriter who turned down Jessie J!
Jay Diggins – remember that name, for this talented singer is about to get his big break.
September sees the launch of his debut album followed by an international tour, rounding off with a show in New York.
It will be the first time his music has reached an worldwide audience, something that Jay has spent years preparing for.
A singer-songwriter, Jay, who lives in Scorton, has been passionate about music all his life but unlike the ‘wannabes’’ of today he is not someone who has thrust himself into the limelight.
Indeed he turned down an opportunity to appear on the hit BBC show The Voice earlier this year.
Auditionees have to be specially invited to sing before a celebrity panel of Tom Jones, Jessie J, Will.i.am and Danny O’Donoghue of The Script.
The twist to the show is that the panel do not see the singers, they only hear them, and they turn to face them if they feel they should be given a chance.
Jay has no regrets about saying no to the show’s producers who asked him to appear after listening to his music.
He said: “At the age of 18 it would probably have been something I would have jumped at but not now.
“I am singer/songwriter and that is what I want to concentrate on.’’
Jay feels that while talent shows like The X Factor and The Voice give people a chance at success they are very youth and television driven, offering instant stardom that does not always last.
He said: “The music industry is very different today to what it once was.
“Record companies used to rule but that is not the case now.’’
Orignally from the West Country, Jay grew up listening to his father’s record collection that included the likes of greats such as BB King, Neil Young and countless 70s bands.
They became a huge influence on Jay and at the age of 10 he picked up a guitar and started to play and sing seriously for the first time.
Jay said: “It was something that seemed to come naturally to me.
“I started playing the guitar at the same time as my brother, who was four years older, and while he gave up it music was something I realised I loved and wanted to concentrate on.’’
With the support of his family Jay was able to follow his dream, although his dad did insist he had a trade to “fall back on’’ as it were so Jay trained as an engineer.
He was taught how to perform in a band by legendary music producer John Parish in Yeovil.
He then spent two years learning how to record rock music at Parish’s studios along with well known English musician PJ Harvey. So it was little surprise that he won a place on the world’s first Popular Music Sound Recording course at Salford University.
Over 200 times oversubscribed, the course was tutored by record producer Bill Leader. This was where Jay honed his craft.
Jay became a full-time musician and he has played at a succession of festivals and shows but over the past few years music took a bit of a back seat while he concentrated on family life with wife Elaine and their two little girls Penny and Holly, who are five and seven.
Jay said: “It was John Parish who suggested I start work on the album.
“He said it was time I got back into it so when someone of that calibre has the faith and confidence in you there has to be something in it.’’
Jay recorded some of the album, Searching, at his own purpose built studio in Scorton and also at John’s recording studios in Bristol where he has just finished working on the new single by K T Tunstall.
John has produced the album and also plays on a couple of tracks.
Drawing his inspiration from singers such as the late Nick Drake, Jay writes gritty songs from the heart with a yearning nature.
The album will be launched at Lancaster’s Grand Theatre on Friday, September 20, followed by a series of gigs in the UK before Jay flies to France and Germany to play and he has been invited to play at the Webster Hall Theatre in New York in January next year.
Joining Jay on the road are his band who are James Fraser on bass, Ian “Scotty’’ Moorhouse on conga and keyboards and drummer Johnny Scott.
The ensemble already have a large following as they are regular performers on the concert and festival circuit throughout the UK and you cannot help but feel their big break is about to happen.
Jay also uses his music to raise money for good causes. Earlier this year he staged a gig in Scorton that made £1,000 for the local school and church and he played at the Lancaster Music Festival which was also a fund raising event.
Jay’s album will be available on digital download or to order on his website firstname.lastname@example.org.