Tom Seals is an acclaimed singer and pianist who has topped the blues charts in his native UK and performed at top clubs and festivals around the world. Get to know our TALENT SCOUT Artist of the Week!
NAME: Tom Seals
HOMETOWN: Crewe, Cheshire UK
MUSICAL TRAINING: My grandad had a 30-piece big band, so I was brought up on the sounds of Glenn Miller. Every week, I would go and watch his band and I knew instantly that's what I wanted to do. Luckily, we had a piano at home due to my sister taking singing lessons, so it all stemmed from there. After college, I spent a few years studying at Sir Paul McCartney's LIPA (Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts) before leaving early due to having too many gigs!
FIRST GIGS: One afternoon, my mum and her friends were in a local wine bar and noticed a grand piano getting delivered. She asked if they needed anyone to play it. It turns out that they did! That was my first residency- every Sunday night at 13 years of age. I wasn't old enough to be in the venue alone, so my mum would come along and sit in the corner waiting for me. And a £20 a night, I was the best paid 13 year old in town!
MUSICAL INFLUENCES: From Erroll Garner, Oscar Peterson and Ray Charles, to more contemporary pianists like Billy Joel, Elton John, Jamie Cullum and Jools Holland. I like a lot of different styles too, especially musical theatre. And I like taking musical theatre tunes and playing them in my own style. Also, seeing what the most respected pianist/vocalists in the UK are doing and being inspired by them helps me a lot. Particularly Ian Shaw, Liane Carroll and Georgia Van Etten.
WHAT I’M LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW: I'm enjoying going back through the Billy Joel songbook and discovering some of his lesser known works. Also Amos Lee, Kiefer Sutherland, Bernhoft, Lawrence, PJ Morton and the Come From Away soundtrack.
MY BIG BREAK: I've been so lucky to have worked with some incredible people over the past few years. I've jammed with Jamie Cullum, appeared on a live show called Gregory Porter and Friends and worked my absolute hero; Jools Holland. I've been invited to perform at Jools Holland's Boogie Woogie and Blues Spectacular two years running, and to sit alongside my hero and play is an incredible feeling.
Earlier this year, I'd just come off stage with him and my mum handed me a piece of paper in a plastic wallet. She told me she'd kept it for 15 years because she knew it would happen It was my writing and it said, "My name is Tom Seals. I am 10 years old. This is my auto-biography. When I'm older, my dreams is to play the piano with Jools Holland."
LATEST ALBUM: My last record, Where I'm At (Live) reached #1 in the UK Blues Charts and I really enjoyed making it. We've just gone into the studio for the first time in a few years and started recording some new material - a mixture of originals and a few covers.
FAVORITE KEYBOARDS AND WHY? I've been playing Roland for years. I currently tour with an RD-800. I find that the feel and the piano sounds are incredible. The simulated ivory-textured keys make it feel like I'm playing a real piano which I absolutely love - but it gives me the flexibility for Rhodes and other EP-style sounds. I love the versatility of it!
WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU? It's always been a dream of mine to play at Ronnie Scott's in London. That happened recently, and we sold it out 11 weeks advance. In the short term, we're close to finishing the latest record and we'll be touring early 2020. The next year is looking very busy with lots of worldwide travel.
ADVICE TO THE NEXT GENERATION: Never say no. Make sure you take every opportunity. There's a cliche saying that says, "You have to be in the right place at the right time". No...YOU have to put yourself in the right place, at the right time. Get out there and make your own luck!
For more information visit www.tomseals.co.uk