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Chantel McGregor – Rock Princess

Chantel very kindly agreed to an interview with the Nottingham Blues Society before her gig at Millers in Kirkby-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire.

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I arrived early and heard Chantel and her band sound-checking and I learned a few things about Chantel that you might not already know:

She is a big fan of the TV show True Blood and its Vampires, especially Bill Compton!

She's from Bradford, but can count with a Louisana accent.

More, she can count above two when sound-checking. No 1-2, 1-2-1, testing for Chantel, oh no! She gets into double figures but not necessarily in the right order!

She likes spare ribs with sticky BBQ sauce.

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I think that there must be a theme here and that she is a long lost cousin of Sookie Stackhouse. OK, enough frivolity … onto business.

Anyone that has seen Chantel perform will know that she has a huge sense of playfulness and a sense of humour second to none. However, during the course of the interview it became clear that she's also a very driven, focussed, ambitious young woman with strong musical identity who knows what she wants and is not afraid to express firm opinions.

Having first picked up a guitar at 3 years of age, a half-sized acoustic and starting lessons at age 7 and quickly moving to electric guitar. By the age of 8 she became the youngest person in the UK to pass a Rockschool grade.

Chantel tells me “Dad played with other people, not in a band, but at Jam sessions. Mum and Dad were into Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix and Free
and that kind of music was always on in the car, in the house, in the

kitchen.” Rather than rebelling against the musical tastes of her parents like some do, 5 years and Chantel wanted to play live, to play gigs and so she started going to in weekly jam sessions with other musicians at the famous Melborn Hotel in Bradford. It is clear that Chantel feels that this was a fundamental stage in her development to becoming the incredible musician she is today. Chantel did these jam sessions for several years and says “It was a real good grounding for me, taught me how to run a band, it was invaluable really”.

In her late teens Chantel changed direction for a time from live performance to recording and writing. This along with exams kept Chantel away from the stage for a few years. During this time Chantel tells me “It was a great time working with some lovely people, really talented producers and musicians and made some great friends.” However, as her website says “... once lawyers get involved, things can get messy!!!”.

Chantel's focus shifted to her formal musical education – with what can only be regarded as outstanding results culminating in her graduating with a First Class honours degree in Popular music in 2009. Chantel describes herself “I'm a complete perfectionist, whatever I do it has to be perfect.” and even though offered a shortcut she didn't take it. Chantel explains “Three months into her BTEC in popular music, they offered to put me onto a degree course early” however, this would have meant a gap of several months and rather than do that Chantel decided to see the full two years of the BTEC course out with a 100% pass mark, 18 distinctions.

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