b. 1954, England. As a child she somehow managed to sidestep Beatlemania and began singing along with records and the radio to music that was often instrumental rather than vocal. She would improvise lyrics or scat to anything from classics to rock. While attending the Reading Jazz And Blues Festival she heard George Melly with John Chilton’s Feetwarmers. ‘It sounded so happy and alive and acoustic in comparison to what else was going on.’ Thus diverted, her interest in jazz proved to be just as eclectic as her other musical interests, turning from Melly to Archie Shepp with ease. She began listening to singers as diverse as Ella Fitzgerald and Helen Merrill and Joni Mitchell. She also listened to bands such as Count Basie’s and folk groups like Pentangle.
She began singing professionally with Big Chief, a jazz rock fusion band which included Dick Heckstall-Smith in its ranks. Her listening tastes continued to be angled towards modern jazz, with particular favourites being Charlie Parker and Thelonious Monk, and singers including Stevie Wonder and Roberta Flack. The wide range of Ponsford’s musical interests and her searching stylistic endeavours led inevitably to her forming her own group, Vocal Chords, which in the mid-90s had a line-up that bespeaks the very best in contemporary vocal talent: Norma Winstone, Ian Shaw, Winston Clifford, Liane Carroll, Jill Francis, Clare Foster and Anton Browne. Outspoken in her likes and dislikes, and positive in her career plans, Ponsford, who also teaches, is clearly a voice - singing and speaking - to listen out for in the future.