It’s exciting times for Lancaster musician and performer Kerri Layton.
While you certainly wouldn’t describe her as the shy and retiring type - the 29-year-old says it has taken her a while to “find my voice and expose my soul”.
Born and raised into a military family, Kerri, who is originally from Yorkshire, spent her youth moving from place to place and was brought up in Germany, Wales and York.
Ironically, while rebelling against army life as a teenager, Kerri is now planning to embark on a journey that could see her performing for armed forces personnel in the UK and overseas as part of a new project.
In 2014, she performed in Ibiza, London, Holland, Germany, France, and at major UK festivals including Secret Garden Party.
A Kickstarter campaign enabled her to go for official training at the Lake District Summer Jazz School in St Bees, where she worked with Herbie Hancock’s drummer, and producers from Groove Armada, among others.
She also created her persona Lady Layton, a solo act singing old time jazz standards and music hall and blues, reminiscent of iconic film stars.
It was in Lancaster where Kerri built up the confidence and knowledge she needed to take her voice in a new direction.
She said: “I started getting to know people on the music scene here, and it was the Golden Lion open mic night I have to credit for me finding the confidence to sing to an audience.
“If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t have had the balls to go to audition for a part in Banner Theatre’s The Future Makers in Birmingham...it was a huge confidence boost for me, and I got the part as joint lead playing an actress, singer and guitarist!
“The Kickstarter campaign was just amazing. Friends, family, fans and people I don’t even know pledged over £1,000 in a week.
“It was a great springboard and I can’t thank people enough for their help.
“Bluesman Max Haymes has also been a great mentor and educator for me, introducing me to some of the great female American blues singers.”
Kerri says she has a lot of poems that she has been turning into songs, as well as writing new material.
“I did two major tours with Banner Theatre in 2013, but I decided to stick with the singing.
“I didn’t go to drama school, but the singing was always there in the background and it was a massive realisation.
“I started to believe in myself and I started to expose my soul. I’ve found my voice in blues.”
Kerri said she lost eight friends in 2012, and a lot of the healing from that has come out in the songs.
“I’m just going to see where it all goes to be honest, but it feels like I’m going to be travelling a lot and singing.”
Kerri has big plans for 2015, with new material out soon, and intentions to record her first album “possibly in Hawaii”.
“I have an America plan. I’m going to sail across the Atlantic, and hopefully make some money performing on the ship.
“If all goes well I want to record my album in Hawaii, and then head down to Mississippi to see where it all started blues wise.
“I’m looking into creating a show that I can hopefully take out to entertain troops around the world. There’s a huge part of me that doesn’t always agree with the government’s military ideals, but there’s another element that we do need our armed forces, and our armed forces need a break and some entertainment too.”
Kerri is a member of Cardiff based band Johnny Cage and the Voodoo Groove, with whom she creates unique and off the wall characters, often with racy and shocking results, and she also made some stunning vocal contributions to Bentham band Dohnut’s album Eat More Cake in 2013.
She performed 30 shows in December, which included a residency at The Borough in Lancaster over Christmas.
Kerri says she is unsure whether she will stay in Lancaster, but added: “Wherever I base myself there’s change on the horizon.”
She is performing in Penrith on February 14, The Robert Gillow on February 21, and The Black Bull in Brookhouse on March 7, and she is a regular at the Sunday afternoon blues sessions at The Robert Gillow.
For more information check out www.ladylayton.co.uk.