Heather M Stewart Press // EPK

...their music is honest always, raw when it feels like it, dainty otherwise, and breathing all the time. These recordings are magnificent. And unruly. And alive.” - Michael Steinman, “Jazz Lives” https://jazzlives.wordpress.com/2021/04/17/our-lucky-stars-leigh-barker-band-melbourne-and-paris/

Heather Stewart is a remarkable vocalist…Barker has collected great bands on two continents and you should acquire both.” - The Syncopated Times October 2021 - https://syncopatedtimes.com/leigh-barker-melbourne-paris/

Dancers will find nothing but gold on this album. Songs like Play The Blues And Go and The Pearls bear up to repeated listenings, and would make excellent songs for performances. The combination of ‘live’ and studio recordings across the two discs offers dancers that mix of exciting high energy and more thoughtful engagement that make for great dancing.” - Sam Carroll http://dogpossum.org/2022/09/leigh-barker-band-album/

Heather Stewart Biography

Heather M Stewart is an extraordinarily talented vocalist and violinist in the international jazz scene. An Australian based in Paris, Heather performs a range of repertoire centred around traditional and hot jazz, ragtime and jug bands, acoustic blues, country and folk music.
Heather studied classical violin and voice (B.Mus.hons), Honours in cognitive neuroscience, an MA in pedagogy and a Graduate Diploma of Jazz. Though starting her career in semi-professional orchestras and operas in Melbourne and London, Heather had always sung and pursued her love for jazz by night. At 23, she decided to change from her classical career to the winding, unpredictable pathways of jazz and original music. Heather dedicated years to workshops, masterclasses, lessons and got solid training with the best swing and traditional jazz musicians in Australia, John Scurry, Peter Baylor, Eamon McNelis, Tim Stevens to name but a few.

Her rigorous classical training has provided regular chances to moonlight in chamber ensembles and orchestras, but once decided, Heather devoted herself artistically to 1900s-1940s jazz, acoustic blues, ragtime and country folk/fiddle music. Heather's singing and violin playing hold a depth and understated artistry that make her one in a million.
Dan Barratt: "I didn't like your singing. I loved it!  Thank you. What you do is so special. It is so good."
Recent concerts have included Paris's illustrious Le Bal Blomet and Caveau de la Huchette (La La Land) with sold-out capacity crowds for The Dirty Ragtimers Orchestra, Leigh Barker Band, Orchestre Delmar and Collectif Paris Swing. Heather has toured throughout Europe, UK, USA and Australia and brings her unique style, warmth and skill to the grand repertoire of great jazz and songwriting from the 1900s to 1940s. Heather has won multiple awards for albums collaborating with husband Leigh Barker, and her self-titled Heather Stewart Band album of original songs and fiddle tunes. Heather also composes for theatre and dance projects.
In Paris, Heather Stewart shares concert stages with Orchestre Del Mar, Collective Paris Swing, Leigh Barker Band, Jake Sanders, Jason Marsalis, Matt Munisteri, Giacomo Smith, Nicholas Montier, Christophe Davot, Eamon McNelis, Lucas Montagnier, Mathieu Meyer, and many more. With a collection of quality music projects, a natural presence and joy on stage, Heather builds audiences wherever she performs.
Heather's quartet collaboration with Parisian fingerpicking guitarist Lucas Montagnier, pianist Mathieu Meyer and bassist Leigh Barker is called The Dirty Ragtimer Orchestra. Their first album "Fairytales of Montmartre" recorded at Hi Style Studios was a sold out performance exhilarated the crowd filling Paris' illustrious Le Bal Blomet and they are working on their second album to be released later in 2023.
Influences: Annette Hanshaw, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Sidney Bechet, Duke Ellington, Lester Young, Bessie Smith, Jelly Roll Morton, Irving Berlin, Gene Aubrey,  Bix B, Scott Joplin, Big Bill Broonzy, G and I Gershwin, Hoagy Carmichael and so many more.
For a specific biography or interview - please email
Heather Stewart's ability to stretch phrases subtly over the bar line gives her vocals a seductive, slightly world-weary quality, and her fiddle playing contains echoes of old-time country and folk styles.”

Jessica Nicholas - THE AGE


Leigh Barker and The New Sheiks

Reviewer rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Surrey Music Cafe, November 29

In 1920s slang, a ''sheik'' was a hip gentleman - a man about town - with obvious romantic appeal. Leigh Barker's band The New Sheiks are five snappily dressed young lads and one sassy lass, re-creating the sound of early jazz and blues. They dig up obscure songs from the American South, polish them up and make them sparkle with life.They also incorporate new tunes, dressed in vintage clothes but delivered with a playful nod to the now. A case in point from Friday's concert: Sex With My Ex, a mischievous update on the flagrantly suggestive blues tunes sung by Bessie Smith and others.
Singer Heather Stewart's ability to stretch phrases subtly over the bar line gives her vocals a seductive, slightly world-weary quality, and her fiddle playing contains echoes of old-time country and folk styles.
The rhythm section (Barker on bass, Matt Boden on upright piano and Sam Young on drums) imbues each tune with a buoyant swing that can be nudged into a strut or swagger, while Eamon McNelis and Don Stewart - on trumpet and trombone respectively - sound crisp, airy, jovial and mournful by turns.
The second set of Friday's show saw the Sheiks morph into the Melbourne Rhythm Project. Seven impossibly energetic dancers (led by Ramona Staffeld and Grant Swift) took to the floor, blending tap and lindy hop in choreographed routines and improvised solos that demonstrated - in irresistible fashion - the once inextricable links between jazz and dance.

Jessica Nicholas - THE AGE 

Leigh Barker & The New Sheiks - The Sales Tax
Led by bassist Leigh Barker, The New Sheiks is a splendid band that proudly specialises in a vintage form of jazz and blues that harks back to the early days of jazz, an era when the leading blues singers were formidable women like Bessie Smith, Mamie Smith and Victoria Spivey.

On this album, recorded variously live and in the studio, they all have great fun performing a variety of original songs and vintage classics. The latter include ‘Sales Tax’ and ‘Lonely One In This Town’ by the Mississippi Sheiks, Ellington’s ‘Come Sunday’ and ‘Creole Blues’, and a neat medley of Jelly Roll Morton’s ‘Jungle Blues’ and Robert Johnson’s ‘Love In Vain’. Impressive teamwork, lots of strong solos and vocals, plenty of fun.

By Adrian Jackson - Rhythms Magazine