Isabel Suckling: international wine trade 'follows' historic record deal

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  • Friday 26 November 2010

Isabel Suckling, the daughter of renowned American wine writer James Suckling, is about to release the first album of a five-record deal with Decca Records – and says she’s enjoying ‘all the rushing around’.

Isabel Suckling
Isabel Suckling Isabel Suckling

The 12-year-old chorister at York Minster, the cathedral home of one of the world’s great choirs, is not only the first choirgirl but also the youngest solo classical artist in history to be offered a record deal by a major label.

The demands of being a chorister at the Minster mean Isabel is used to having very little free time, and she also fitted the recording of the first albums around school commitments.

‘I’ve got my entrance exams for secondary school soon,’ she told Decanter.com, ‘but luckily I have been let off some subjects so only have to do two exams.’

She said, ‘I’m really enjoying it – it’s all so rushed and hectic,’ and added that the money she had earned was a lot more than she was used to.

‘I normally only get £12 a month pocket money. I don’t know what I’m going to spend it on.’

Her mother Catherine Suckling said, ‘She’s juggling everything at the moment – she basically never has a day off, as she’s at York Minster every Saturday and Sunday.’

Catherine said she had no worries that fame would go to her daughter’s head, despite the imminence of her 13th birthday.

‘I don’t think she’ll turn into a diva. She even hates it when I mention it to taxi drivers.’

Isabel is being mentored by former child star Aled Jones, who shot to fame in December 1985 with Walking in the Air, from the film The Snowman.

The album is called The Choirgirl Isabel, and features a new choral recording of ‘Imagine’, to commemorate the 30th anniversary of John Lennon’s death, as well as a duet with Jones’ original vocal track of ‘All Through The Night’ which was recorded in 1986 but never released.

Jones said, ‘On hearing Isabel’s voice I wanted to be involved in nurturing her special talent. She has such a great quality and I am very pleased to play a small part in enabling her to reach a wider audience.’

Gennaro Castaldo, of Decca parent company HMV said there was ‘potentially a huge market for this style of music’ especially at Christmas.

Although there has been a choir at York Minster since the 14th century, Isabel comes from a very recent tradition of female choristers: girls were only admitted to the Choral Foundation in 1997.

As for the influence of her father – a mainstay of American wine magazines Wine Spectator and Cigar Aficionado before he resigned to go freelance this summer – Catherine said new friends’ groups had sprung up on Facebook.

‘She’s got some interesting followers – Tenuta Silvio Nardi, Jorge Rosas, various Bordeaux chateaux, and a couple of cigar manufacturers…’

Suckling himself said he was 'just the proud and loving father like always. Isabel loves her music whether it's singing, playing the piano or rock'in with her guitar. It's all about her enjoyment as a musician.'

The Choirgirl Isabel is released on Monday 29 November. The single ‘You Are Not Alone’ is released on 13 December.

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