Fraser Churchill was born to music. He grew up doing his homework in jazz clubs, watching his pianist dad rehearse and often falling asleep during concerts. He sang in gospel choirs led by his father, also a professor at London’s Royal Academy of Music, learning a song a day by ear only. In addition, his mother was a singer and guitarist.
By eight, dealing with his parents’ divorce, he took out his frustration by drumming. He turned to guitar aged 13 and started writing songs. He joined a rock band he didn’t much like, but which helped him develop a distinctive rhythmic playing style influenced by years of drum lessons. Still in his teens he was accepted to Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts (LIPA), where Paul McCartney helped teach him to write and gave him performing advice.
A year out took him across the States, playing guitar with singer Kelly Paige, and saw him hired to play exclusive golf events everywhere from St Andrews to Hawaii. He even got his first golf lesson from Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson – proof, were it needed, that he should stick to music. In fact, the Watson's must have realised this when they gifted Fraser a Martin acoustic guitar in Nashville, which is now well and truly worn in from its daily use.
For four years, Fraser funded his studies by spending every weekend returning to London to play covers in pubs and clubs. Often, he’d sneak in an original song to test it out. Inspired by Frank Sinatra’s phrasing and Stevie Wonder’s soul, his own songs were a sumptuous, vintage-tinged mix of the pop he’d learnt at LIPA and the jazz and gospel he grew up with.
Now 24 and a seasoned performer – Gary Barlow has noted his “great connection with an audience”, he has performed with Roger Hodgson of Supertramp and written with Boy George - Fraser is ready to release his new material. With his regular three-piece band, this year he recorded three new self-penned tracks – Talk About You, Day By Day and Amber Light - in just 12 hours at London’s Livingston studios. They have gained over one hundred thousand views on Facebook, leading to an invitation to perform at the prestigious MUSEXPO in LA in April 2016 and, leading up to that, to Nashville to collaborate with some of the city’s best-known song writers, including Rivers Rutherford (Tim McGraw, Keith Urban), Steve McEwan (James Bay, Carrie Underwood) and Tommy Lee James (Taylor Swift, Martina McBride).
He is back in Nashville from mid June, followed by shows and writing in LA and Toronto.
Lisa Verrico [Sunday Times]