Julie E Gordon: Singing And The Rainy City
Somewhere in Greater Manchester a friendly bus driver is picking up fares, totally unaware that he has made a difference to the city’s music scene. For this bus driver, trying to cheer up a lonely young Dudley woman, prevented the teenage Julie Gordon, from hot-footing it back to her close-knit family in the West Midlands, and abandoning her musical career in a “concrete jungle where it never stopped raining”.
Julie Gordon’s love affair with music originated in gospel music. A naturally rebellious young woman, she found her first taste of freedom from imposed behaviour through singing: “The whole process of church is quite structured, but you have that musical element which removes you slightly and places you in that peripheral of beauty.”
Yet Julie feels that it was only when she came to Manchester that her real creative journey began. She had originally planned a nursing career when she realised that she loved to sing and entertain. So she came north and enrolled in the first degree course in Media and Performance Studies at Salford University.
“I ran away - I’m glad I did it. Being in a box is not beneficial. This taught me to be fearless and go into the complete unknown.”
As part of the course, students were introduced into industry networks, where Julie met interesting people, including musicians, who invited her to iconic venues such as Sankeys Soap, PSV and Checkpoint Charlie.
It was at Sankeys in 1996 that she requested the microphone during a DJ set run by Mark Rae and Christian of the Grand Central Records label.
“I got on mic……singing on the beat, around the beat, after the beat. There was something that made them raise their eyebrows so I ended working with them”. The rest, as they say, is history. Other work and collaborations followed, including co-singing with Shaun Ryder in the Happy Mondays and national and international touring.
Julie is acutely conscious that all her achievements have been grounded in the support of others. She cites local spoken-word artists, Shirley May and Chris Jam as important creative mentors and recognises how lucky she is having the support of her immediate family in developing her career.
“Having my partner in life to be not only someone who Influences me, but really supports, believes in what I’m doing and puts his own things on the side …. If you don’t have that, you’re without any luck moving forward.” Right now, Julie has several current projects on the go, but does not want to put herself under creative pressure.
It could be five or 20 years before something else happens. Unless you’re in a particular market with a timescale. I don’t think about time at all; just go with the flow, stay youthful.” She is however keen to give back the support she herself has received and has developed an innovative online showcase portal for vocalists: The Vocal Pod.
“The Vocal Pod is a playground for vocalists: for anybody who is keen to share their work and get it heard. Every piece of work has to be original, not sounding like other current artists. A platform to show you – the truth. I am constantly looking out for talent.” And wouldn’t it be perfect symmetry if one day in the future Julie discovers a gifted vocalist who is currently working part-time as a bus driver in Manchester?