Bev Lee Harling began her violin studies at the age of 5, and toured Europe extensively as a teenager, playing classical repertoire with the East Sussex Youth Orchestra.
After graduating from Middlesex University with a degree in Jazz Studies with voice her first study, she toured with UK jazz project Septpiece (featuring Dave Mattacks, Mark Lockheart, John Donaldson and Stuart Hall) and also began writing her own material.
In 2006 Bev recorded a 5 track E.P. – Impossible Human – produced by Julian Hinton (Trevor Horn). Many of the tracks have since featured in compilation releases, including Broadcasting from Offtrack Radio by Jazzanova and Café Paradiso alongside Thom Yorke and Martina Topley-Bird. The final track, I’m For You, found its way into the ad campaign for exclusive lingerie company Myla.
Following a series of successful solo gigs in Berlin, Bev began collaborating with German DJ/producer Stefan Rogall, and in 2006 joined his band Rogall and The Electric Circus Sideshow alongside Earl Zinger (Galliano), Hugo Race (Nick Cave) and Henry Rollins. Bev co-wrote and performed songs for the project’s self titled debut album, released on Perfect Toy records (2009).
During 2007 Bev was asked to join the No.1 UK classical chart act Mediaeval Baebes, and went on to tour extensively throughout the world performing and writing songs for 3 studio albums.
Bev signed to Westbury music publishing in 2010 and record label Wah Wah 45s shortly after, who released her debut album Barefoot in Your Kitchen in 2012. The album was recorded and produced in Berlin by Stefan Rogall, and features the beginning of Bev’s interest in the percussive capabilities of found objects and household sounds. Renowned DJ Gilles Peterson named it his ‘Album Of The Week’ on it’s release and featured Bev in his compilation Brownwood Bubblers 9. Songs from this album have enjoyed radio play on Radio 3, 6, 1extra and BBC London, including a live session for the 2012 Olympics. Bev was also a finalist in the People’s Music Awards that year.
Bev has a longstanding association with dance music label Hospital Records and in recent years has collaborated with several of their artists, including co writing and singing on releases by Netsky, Etherwood, Metrik and Bop. She is also a featured artist on releases by many other artists, and there have been numerous remixes produced of Bev’s work. Other artists/producers that Bev has worked with also include Talvin Singh, Ray Davies, Matty Benbrook, Katharine Blake, Kavus Torabi, Iain Archer, K.K, The Destroyers and the Colman Brothers.
Bev’s vocals and violin have featured on many soundtracks for dance-theatre pieces for composer Frank Moon and celebrated choreographer Arthur Pita. This includes the soundtracks to The Metamorphosis (Royal Opera House, also filmed for Sky Arts), The Little Match Girl, The World’s Greatest Show and Run Mary Run (Sadler’s Wells/world tour, starring ballet stars Sergei Polunin and Natalia Osipova) and The Kingdom of Back for Royal Northern Ballet (2018). Bev performed live with ballet stars Edward Watson and Wendy Whelan in their show Whelan/Watson: Other stories (2015) at the Linbury Theatre (Royal Opera House) and City Centre New York (2016).
Further theatre work includes recordings for composer Dave Price for The Time Of Your Life by Gecko theatre company, which featured on the last ever Live from Television Centre BBC 4 (2016) and Dead Club at The Place by Requart and Rosenberg (2017).
Taking the roles of actor-musician and composer, Bev collaborated with Explore The Arch theatre company in 2018 to create an extraordinary immersive theatre piece, House at Armistice and in 2019, was invited back to create a one woman show in collaboration with renowned sculptor Bernard McGuigan for the A Town Explores A Book Festival.
Current theatre works include performances in Bloom Brittannia composed by Orlando Gough for the Barefoot Opera company in 2020 (patron, Damon Albarn) and a writing collaboration with composer Frank Moon and choreographer Arthur Pita for a new production of Ten Sorry Tales commissioned by Sadlers Wells’s in 2019/2020.
A performance in May 2019 as vocal soloist for Karl Jenkins’ Stabat Mater in Marbella, Spain, saw Bev return to her classical roots for two very special performances with the Collegium Musicum choir and orchestra, singing in Latin, Arabic, English and Aramaic.
Bev has her own live project, Bev Lee Harling and the Kitchen Sink, a 4 piece band that includes glass orchestras, music boxes, an electric drill, a 1950’s typewriter and an assortment of kitchen equipment. Performance highlights have included Glastonbury Festival, Secret Garden Festival, Shambala Festival, Wilton’s Music Hall, The Jazz Cafe and La Scala in London. As a performer with many other ensembles, Bev has toured widely, including several US and European tours with Mediaeval Baebes, the London Burlesque Festival with Amsterdam burlesque star Natsumi Scarlett, and the London Jazz Festival (Queen Elizabeth Hall) with The Bright Size Gypsies.
Since 2018 Bev has been running Songs In Unexpected Places, a series of solo voice and violin shows where audiences meet in unusual spaces which are kept secret until the day of the performance. These have ranged from 15 people in a fishing boat, to over a hundred people in a Pugin and Pugin Chapel that had been closed for over 40 years. A new series of this project is being planned for 2021 in line with a new album and further musical exploration into her solo work.
Bev is currently co-writing with composer Lucy Mulgan on a commission from Barefoot Opera/Arts Council to create an online work in collaboration with Seaview Homeless Project, The Hastings Refugee Buddy Project and Dudley Infants school to explore the subject of ‘My Place’ and what the idea of home means to us.
Photo credit: Georgie Scott