Singer, Songwriter, Pianist
Heg Brignall has spent over twenty years honing her craft as a singer, pianist, performer and songwriter, and her passion for a cappella vocal harmony weaves it's way through all her various musical projects. She uses her bright voice with versatility, creating crisp characterful melodies which transport and enchant the listener.
As a songwriter, Heg takes inspiration from stories she collects, from tracing her family tree around America; to interviewing her Grandfather about his time as a prisoner of war; to using other peoples stories and turning them into songs. These stories create the foundation of her music, creating folk songs that document the tales from which they came. She takes inspiration from fairy tales, folklore, legends and other fiction - often with a personal element running underneath the obvious meaning of the lyrics.
Heg spent ten years touring the UK and Europe with her theatrical-folk band Heg & The Wolf Chorus. The band's idiosyncratic style and dramatic delivery saw sell-out gigs across the country. The combination of folk and theatrical influences on Heg's songs gave the band a unique edge and they were renowned for their theatrical stage shows which often incorporated rich layered harmonies and orchestral-sounding arrangements. The band released a selection of EPs, singles and one studio album Raising The Fires - a concept album about a witch who ends the world. Heg's original songs for the Wolf Chorus received radio play and praise from the likes of BBC Introducing, Folk Radio, regional BBC stations as well as many podcasts and CD compilation features. The band featured in fRoots Magazine; received multiple award nominations from FATEA magazine, Isambard Folk Award and BBC radio stations; received funding from EFDSS; performed at many festivals and venues including Sidmouth Folk Week, Cambridge Folk Festival, a sell-out at London's Union Chapel supporting Moulettes and Nizlopi, Cecil Sharp House, English Folk Expo, Costa Del Folk in Ibiza and many more. The band are currently on a break but plan to return sometime in the future.
Heg's current touring project is Julu Irvine & Heg Brignall; a captivating duo with fresh take on folk. This relatively new collaboration with Heg's partner in life and music Julu Irvine, began when the pair started singing at folk sessions together and has flourished into a renowned touring act on the folk circuit. They quickly launched themselves to the forefront of the English folk music scene with their engaging live shows, arresting close harmony a cappella singing as well as their feminist slant on traditional songs and stories. In 2020 they released their first single Gather which follows their 2018 EP release Unfair Maids. 2021 will mark the release of their debut album which they are currently recording with Lukas Drinkwater, as well as a busy year of touring ahead, including Sidmouth Folk Festival (EFDSS concert showcase) and London Folk Festival at Cecil Sharp House and many more.
Heg is an accomplished composer and arranger and writes music on a commission basis. In 2018 she composed the score for the major Cirque Bijou spectacle show Portolan which took place across the River Wear in Sunderland and featured on BBC Four. The performance featured a fifty-strong choir performing live with Heg & The Wolf Chorus to an audience of ten thousand people complete with pyrotechnics and a 30 metre high wire walk.
In 2012, whilst living in Bristol, Heg founded The Great Sea Choir which rose from a small group of un-auditioned singers to a forty strong a cappella choir performing Heg's unique contemporary-folk arrangements at professional events and festivals. Heg's original arrangements are one of the features of the choir which make them stand out. The arrangements are textured and vibrant, creating dramatic and exciting music which pushes the boundaries of community choir repertoire. The choir have collaborated with other artists, received recognition from local BBC Introducing and BBC radio shows as well as becoming the winners of the 2016 Heart FM choir competition. They were also the featured group on Made In Bristol TV as the headline act at Bristol Festival of Song 2015. The choir's debut EP Within The Sound - a collection of six arrangements by Heg - was released in November 2018 with FATEA magazine describing it as "A fine debut EP...artfully composed arrangements". The EP has already received plays on BBC Radio Bristol, with presenter Steve Yabsley describing it as "Rather good!".
After moving to Devon, Heg continued her choir journey in collaboration with partner Julu Irvine. In 2019 they formed the Wheelhouse Folk Choir in Tavistock and a re-formed The Great Sea Choir with new singers in Plymouth. Both choirs are un-auditioned community choirs with high musical standards and are known for their complex and unique arrangements - all created by Heg and Julu. They pride themselves on empowering their singers with good singing technique, creating a high standard of musicality and skill which creates opportunities for both choirs to perform at professional events and festivals.
Heg and Julu also run Folk Singing Retreats - weekend singing holidays for folk lovers!
Devon Singing Teacher
Heg teaches private singing lessons in Devon and is passionate at working with singers on a holistic level. She enables people of all ages, abilities and genders to use singing and breathing techniques to release their voices, encouraging them to harness their best sound. She incorporates and teaches singing technique to all her choir groups, empowering singers with tools to sing with confidence, strength and resonance. She works with young singers towards ABRSM singing exams as well as students working on school assessments.
Heg has studied singing since the age of 11 where she learnt classical singing technique with singing teacher Maggie Grady. During this time she worked through her ABRSM grade exams in singing and piano before reaching a distinction in singing at grade 8. During this time she gained experience in musical theatre, classical, jazz and folk as well as performing and harmony singing in various choirs.
In 2008 she graduated from Dartington College of Arts with a first class honours degree in Contemporary Music Performance. There she studied songwriting with number one selling songwriter Julian Marshall and contemporary singing techniques with Sandra Smith. Heg's own development as a singer was instrumental in introducing Heg to a deeper understanding of how the voice works, the importance of learning how to breathe well and how to look after the voice during extensive touring. It was during her degree that Heg experienced some vocal problems and learnt how to rebuild her voice and reposition it. This learning experience was invaluable and gave Heg a thirst for helping others to experience the joy of singing freely with an unrestricted voice.
Since graduating, Heg has taught singing technique to individuals and to choirs and has continued to study singing, updating her knowledge and training through reading and courses. In 2018 she completed Estill for Singing Teachers, an introductory training course in the Estill Method. In 2020 she completed the Advanced Voice Rehabilitation course with Jenevora Williams further deepening her knowledge in vocal injuries and problems. She has completed several online courses with Vocal Process. She continues to learn about the voice.
Get in touch with Heg to find out more or to book singing lessons in Tavistock.
Photo by Tilly May