'Walker’s poetry is expressive and unfaultable: short-lined, rich in vocabulary and irony'. Church Times, for Voices of Power 2022
'A pure, bright mezzo-soprano of such melting beauty, I think I could listen to it forever' New York Times
'Her luminous, androgynous appeal' The Stage
'The vocalist is mezzo Jessica Walker, a slinky, flame-haired androgyne in tux and boots, looking as if she might have strayed from some Weimar Republic dive' The Guardian
'Superbly sung by the pure-voiced English Mezzo Jess Walker' The Times
'A spell-binding cabaret show at the 59E59 Theaters written by and starring the gifted singer Jessica Walker…Ms Walker's resplendent mezzo-soprano brings a bright lustre to the dozen or so songs in the show' New York Times
'It's the kind of rarefied experience you only get these days in New York after dark.' New York Observer
The video above is the trailer for Scene Unseen, a one woman musical/ song cycle, written with composer-pianist Joseph Atkins. The film is directed by James Dacre, and filmed by David Lefeber. Co-produced by Royal and Derngate and ETO, it was available to watch until the end of 2022. There will hopefully be an opportunity to see it live in 2023/4.
Most of the rest of this year I'll be working on a libretto - a new commission for Leipzig Opera in 2026. Details to follow.
2024 concerts so far include Ludlow English Song Festival, La Barcarolle St Omer, and associate artist concerts at Lichfield festival.
2023 performances have included:
(Dead) Funny Women La Barcarolle St Omer
World premiere of The People's Cabaret with Luke Styles and Chroma Ensemble - Spiegeltent Norfolk and Norwich Festival
The People's Cabaret The Komedia Brighton Festival. brightonfestival.org/whats-on/the-peoples-cabaret-6218/
July 7-8 Associate artist concerts Lichfield Festival:
Girls will be Boys - a celebration of drag in performance 7th July 5pm:
Iconic - the 60s in Song 8th July 8.30pm
July 14th (Dead) Funny Women Deal Festival:
Reviews for Scene Unseen:
“The lyrics are fiendishly clever and deftly worked”
“Walker….sings with a spontaneity that perfectly dovetails with Atkins’ composition” The Reviews Hub
“Genuinely moving...original, thought-provoking, and funny with a refreshing new slant on gender identity” Musical Theatre Review
“exciting and challenging…By the end, [Walker] has led us through her best and worst times, those surprises that are set like landmines to disrupt our lives in tears or celebration” My Theatre Mates
“The performance is perfection”
“Aesthetically pleasing, euphonious and personal” West End Best Friend
“utterly beautiful…wonderfully written and performed” Page to Stage UK
Other 2022 news:
2022 started with a Creative Retreat at the Britten Pears foundation Red House, spending time in the archive with Dr Kara McKechnie, investigating the life and legacy of Joan Cross. Other projects lining up for 22/23 include a reprise of (Dead) Funny Women, this time at Presteigne Festival: (presteignefestival.com/events/), further performances of The People's Cabaret with composer Luke Styles at O. Rotterdam, a new commission, Voices of Power, also with Luke, for the Three Choirs Festival (3choirs.org/events/voices-of-power) and Forbidden Love, a cabaret performance, also at O Festival Rotterdam: o-festival.nl/voorstelling/late-night-lullabies-forbidden-love/?tickets=true. I'm also going to be an associate artist at Lichfield Festival for the next three years, with concerts this year including a tribute to Sondheim, and an 80s programme in celebration of 40 years of the festival.
As the world of live music began to open up, I had a busy 2021. My new project with composer Luke Styles, The People's Cabaret, played at Brighton and Norwich and Norfolk Festivals. In July I was artist in residence at Lichfield Festival, with a series of events, both new and slightly used. In collaboration with Joseph Atkins, we will perform Songs for our Times live for the first time, a concert of songs drawn from the 1920s, and a new piece called Dead Funny Women, looking at the lives and music of some very talented performers. Songs for Our Times also played at the beautiful Stapleford Granary.
At the end of July, I made a rare foray into directing and devising, with Cabaret Macabre, a new show for British Youth Music Theatre, alongside my collaborator Joe Atkins. Details here: britishyouthmusictheatre.org/shows/cabaret-macabre
On the 2nd July 2020, Joe Atkins and I went into an empty Blackheath Halls and filmed a concert for Lichfield Festival, with film-maker Leon Lopez. The resulting film, Songs for our Times, is an outpouring of some of the complex emotions elicited by our current crisis, with original material by me and Joe, combined with songs by Brel and Barbara. It's available to view here, on the Lichfield Festival YouTube channel: youtu.be/0JwkHL-v5Kk.
I began 2020 performing in Alone in Berlin, a new play by Alistair Beaton, adapted from the novel by Hans Fallada. Produced by the Royal and Derngate theatre, it was directed by James Dacre, with new songs by Orlando Gough. The tour ended prematurely due to the Covid 19 crisis. All work for later in the year has been postponed to 2021, including a new commission (Dead) Funny Women, for the Lichfield Festival, and Cabaret Macabre, written with Joe Atkins for the British Youth Music Theatre.
In 2019 I performed the role of Miss Prism in Gerald Barry's The Importance of Being Earnest for Neue Oper Fribourg, in Switzerland and Paris, the role of Hildy in Bernstein's On the Town, for Antony McDonald's new production in Tokyo and Hyogo, Japan.
2019 also saw a first development phase at ROH for my new piece Fake or Stake, with composer Cevanne Horrocks Hopayian.
In November 2018, Not Such Quiet Girls, my new play commissioned by Opera North and Leeds Playhouse, went into production. In commemoration of the WW1 Armistice, it told the forgotten stories of female ambulance drivers behind the front line in Belgium and France. The Opera magazine review called it 'A thoroughly satisfying - and revelatory - evening.' It was directed by Jacqui Honess-Martin, with musical arrangements by Joseph Atkins. You can hear me talking about the show with Jane Garvey on Woman's Hour here, about 35 minutes in.
My play All I Want is One Night, originally produced by the Royal Exchange Theatre, with further runs at Wilton's Music Hall and the Hope Mill Theatre, played a month long run at the Brits off Broadway festival in June 2018, and earned critic's pick in the New York Times:
'Delightful...The numbers are so good, in fact, that you wish there were more than the eight'. New York Times
Other praise for the New York run included:
'It's a beautiful performance that changes to heartbreaking as Solidor ages without grace.' Woman Around Town
'Jessica Walker is an exceptional, multi-talented woman in her own right, as a playwright, translator, actress and singer. Not only has she brought Solidor to our overdue attention by penning All I Want Is One Night...but in doing so, she personally translated Solidor's songs from French to English and now is starring, as actress and singer, in this production...Walker is superb.' A Seat on the Aisle
'On any level treading the edge of sexuality is risky and sexy. You'd think in 2018, nothing would be particularly unusual or shocking. The thrill of Jessica Walker's All I Want Is One Night is that she creates as a performer and playwright a world in which danger and glamour and delusion and talent are mixed altogether with commerce. And in that world circling like a haunted muse-she gives us a glimmer of Suzy Solidor'. Theatre Pizzazz