Biography All Music Guide
All Music Guide:
Beth Rowley is a singer who employs a healthy crossover feeling of vintage rhythm & blues and gospel music welded onto contemporary pop and jazz elements. She was born in Lima, Peru, in October of 1981 to British missionary parents who moved when she was two years of age. Raised in Bristol, England, her initial influences included Mahalia Jackson, Emmylou Harris, Neil Young, Roy Orbison, and (through her guitar-playing father) Woody Guthrie. Rowley attended St. Mary Redcliffe and Temple schools before being noticed at an open-mike night in London, and she subsequently formed a funk-soul-acid jazz band, the Apogee, when she was 16. After high school, she studied casually at Weston-Super-Mare College, and formally for a year at the Brighton Institute of Modern Music. Meeting and conferring with vocalist Carleen Anderson, Rowley was inspired to develop her own sound, but gained initial professional experience as a backup singer with Enrique Iglesias and Ronan Keating. Working more on the underground scene, she teamed up with saxophonist Ben Castle of Jamie Cullum's band in 2000 and began writing her own material, influenced as much by country and bluegrass as soul music. Her EP Violets was followed by the full-length Blue Thumb album Little Dreamer, including songs co-written with Castle and covers of tunes by Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan, and Willie Nelson. With backup from Duke Special, the album was also shaped by Blur producer Steve Power with help from Kevin Bacon and Jonathan Quarmby. Rowley has appeared with Burt Bacharach, and contributed a song for the soundtrack of the film The Edge of Love. Rowley is an aspiring Olympian, and has also picked up the harmonica.