Helen Austin

Helen Austin was born and raised in Durham in the North East of England, UK. While at school she studied the flute and piano, becoming a woodwind quarter-finalist in the National Young Musician of the Year at the age of 17. For several years she was second to principal flute in the National Youth Wind Orchestra and was part of a Jazz band that played in the National Jazz Band Festival at the Albert Hall.

While studying Performing Arts at Middlesex University, Helen discovered her voice and took lessons with renowned jazz singer Ian Shaw. She left the University with an Honours Degree and a career in musical stand up comedy. For many years Helen was a headlining comedy act in the UK and considered one of the funniest performers on the UK circuit. Helen has played at theatres such as the London Palladium and the Haymarket, in London's West End, and alongside performers such as Michael Palin (Monty Python), Ben Elton (TV comedian and best selling novelist) and Ricky Gervais (The Office, UK). Helen became an award-winning performer when she won Jongleurs Performer of the Year in 2001.

Since moving to Canada in 2002, Helen spends most of her time raising two children and singing the songs she has been quietly writing throughout her life. She founded and hosts the Comox Valley Songwriting Circle and has been involved in many local music projects. Her song "Wishing" is on the Cumberland Christmas Album and "In My Head" is featured on the Island Showcase Compilation Album. Helen was asked to write a song that captured the spirit of the Relay for Life, which is available on CD from the Canadian Cancer Society.

Her albums include “Things You Can’t Undo”, “One Eye on the Door”, and “Perfect Girl”. Helen found her stride as a songwriter in 2009, writing, recording and releasing a song a week for an entire year.  Her latest release called “Song of the Week”  features favourites from the year many of which have been licensed for use in the film industry.

Q&A
Where were you born?
Durham, UK

What's your sign?
Scorpio...so watch out.

Oldest, middle, youngest, only child?
Youngest

Where is the strangest place you have ever done a gig?
In an army barracks in rural Falkland Islands. We were flown up in  a helicopter, were made to wear rubber gear (not sure why) and were carrying a jeep through a hole in the floor of the aircraft....not scary at all.

What is the best part of being in Voices Three?
Getting to work with very talented songwriters and, of course, the lasagna and wine consumption.

What famous musician/group who you say has influenced your music?
So many...early on it was Joni Mitchell...then it was Shirley from Garbage and more recently bands like Nickelcreek and Gomez.

What is your favourite instrument?
Harmonica and most recently...kazoo (pronounced kay-zoo)

Why do you write songs?
Therapy...it stops me from being mean to my husband.

What is your favourite pizza topping?
Tomato and lots of basil...preferably eating it in Rome.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Living in the Comox Valley going through menopause.

What is the most unusual thing(s) you have done?
Proposed to my husband after 3 weeks of dating...he needed to stay in the UK and I had nothing better to do at the time.

What(or who LOL) would you do differently if you had the chance?
Nothing and no one.

What is your favourite food?
Chocolate, yorkshire puddings or a curry...depending on my mood....not together, though...unless pregnant.

What is your favourite form of relaxation?
Watching TV with a glass of wine...I mean working out at the gym and then a salad.

do you have any phobias?
none...bit boring...sorry.

What's your favorite CD lately?
Why Let the Fire Die, Nickelcreek and the single Delilah by the Plain White Ts.

What's under your bed?
A  big, fat, brown cat and some fluff.

What's your dream vacation?
A cottage on the west coast of France with my husband and kids.

What is your favorite quote?
How's that working for you? - Dr Phil.

Favorite television character?
Spike from Buffy...didn't realise his english accent was fake until the series finished...love all the fighting and neck biting dressed in leather.