NewVIc Star: Naomi Scarlett

Naomi Scarlett

Former NewVIc A Level student Naomi Scarlett is a successful backing singer for a vast number of successful singers and bands including Honne, Izzy Bizu and Alfa Mist. Currently touring in Asia, NewVIc has managed to catch up with her to talk about her career and studies.

Which A Levels did you study at NewVIc and did you live in Newham at the time? 
I studied A-level English Literature, Media Studies, Music, and AS-level Psychology. I lived in Newham until my second year at NewVIc, and then lived in Ilford until I left for University.

When did you decide you wanted to be a singer? 
I started singing in Solid Harmony Choir when I was 13 years old, and writing my own songs a little after that, but I never envisioned doing it for a living, until I actually did! I dabbled in other areas of music and the arts, but ultimately came back to singing relatively recently.

Could you briefly tell me your journey from NewVIc to where you are now? 
After finishing my A Levels in 2010, I went to the University of Hertfordshire to study BA Music and Entertainment Industry Management, which I still apply in my career today (it helps to know a little bit about what you're signing!). While at university, I had internships at Rinse FM and Insanity Talent Management. I also briefly came back to Nashaa to run an Activ8 class.

My first job after graduating was working on a talent show, and I also worked behind the scenes at recording sessions for a number of high profile artists, doing admin and logistical tasks, while building on what I'd gained from my degree. I also worked at Bestival, Reading Festival, and for Three Six Zero talent management.  I did barely any singing at university, so when I graduated, I was dying to start singing again! I joined my friend's choir and started to build my confidence back up in order to get to where I am now.

Could you tell me a little about how you became a backing vocalist, and who you worked with? 
I started out by doing low-fee/free gigs for friends. This is a great way of getting into session work, if you can. Every gig you do is potentially seen by someone influential, or looking for what you have to offer, even the low paid ones that you start out with.

My first professional gig was for a rapper called Nick Brewer (Island Records), I was recommended to him by friend I met at NewVIc. Since then I have worked with Izzy Bizu, HONNE, Jordan Rakei, Emmavie, Alfa Mist, Birdy, Hurts, and a few others.

You are also a member of House Gospel member Choir. How did you get involved with the choir? 
I met the founder Natalie Maddix when I was younger, and she was a member of Urban Development's Vocal Collective. As soon I heard they were auditioning, I jumped at the chance to join. I've forged so many professional and personal relationships through the choir.

Do you have any fond memories of NewVIc? 
So many! I spent most of my spare time in the music department fooling around on the computers or with the guitars. I loved that everyone was encouraged to follow their own paths and personal tastes, musically. You could walk into a practise room and not know what you're about to hear. Meeting people like Alfa Mist, Barney Artist and Kadeem Clarke at NewVIc really shaped me too, and seeing them absolutely smashing it now is such a buzz.

What made you come to NewVIc? 
I was already at NewVIc every Tuesday night for Solid Harmony, so it seemed like the right fit. I already knew a lot of the staff and was familiar with the facilities. Going anywhere else seemed insane to me.

How did you find the teaching at NewVIc? What was your next step after leaving college?
I loved the teaching at NewVIc. John Crockford was a great teacher, as was Gabriel Armstrong. I didn't have any subjects with Kishan Pithia, but I was in one of his extracurricular classes and he was one of the funniest and most accessible teachers around. Saci Lloyd was also hugely inspirational to me.

How would you describe yourself before you came to NewVIc? And how would you describe yourself when you left? 
Before I came to NewVIc, I was completely unsure how the next two years would pan out and what I wanted to happen next. There was still an element of that when I left. But most people had told me that I could be whatever I wanted if I put my mind to it.  That quote has never left me!

Do you have any advice for anyone that would like to go in to singing? 
Join a choir. Just do it. Sing harmonies to your favourite songs; make up harmonies if you have to. Have fun with vocal arrangements; get your friends to sing with you. Sing backing vocals for your friends, treat it as if it is a professional gig, then the real ones will start coming in.

Learn the songs inside out like they are your own, be on time, be nice to people, learn people's names. Go to jam nights (Troy Bar and Sessions 58 are two great ones). It sounds like a lot, but basically sing a lot and be professional! And only do it if you enjoy it. That shows.

If you would like to find out more about Naomi Scarlett, the A Level subjects that NewVIc has to offer and its creative enrichment activities, please go to the following

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