Sally Doherty began exploring different musical styles when she was at university. She was studying fine art with the intention of becoming a film maker. She had her own band the whole time, for which she wrote songs.
Inspired by unusual vocal performers, like Yma Sumac and Diamanda Galás, she began experimenting with performance art and with singing and composing as part of a visual film-based media. In complete contrast, when at home she was listening to jazz and latin music and gaining a lifelong passion for the recordings of Chet Baker, João Gilberto and Astrud Gilberto performing Jobim songs, Nina Simone, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis, Sarah Vaughan and Julie London as well as admiring the songwriting and voices of Scott Walker, Jacques Brel, Tom Waits, Sandy Denny and Nick Drake to name just a few.
Whilst at college she began work on her self-titled debut album and was invited to collaborate with a few alternative bands. Her first album was released in 1996 and her second, ‘Sleepy Memory’ in 1998. She was then invited to compose some music for BBC TV and later, on numerous occasions, for BBC Radio 4 drama. In 2000 she released two albums, ‘On the Outside’ and ‘Empire of Death’ (BBC TV music).
While busy writing her own songs she also found the time to start learning the songs of Antonio Carlos Jobim (in their original Portuguese). Having absorbed so much material through listening it was now time to start singing it. She began performing in jazz clubs trying out carefully chosen standards and different Latin American songs to suit her style. The repertoire eventually expanded to take in some dramatic and melancholic boleros of Mexico and Cuba and other Brazilian songs.
Another facet to Sally’s musical explorations came to fruition in 2001 when she began working on a new album, ‘Black is the Colour’. She took folk songs from Ireland, Scotland, Spain, Mexico and France and recorded her own versions of them, focusing on acoustic instruments to create minimal filmic backdrops for these ancient songs.
It was around this time that the Italian band ‘Planet Funk’ discovered her releases through her website and invited her to go to Italy and write some songs with them. Through this collaboration Sally wrote songs for their albums ‘Non Zero Sumness’ and ‘The Illogical Consequence’ and toured extensively with them.
2006 saw the release of ‘Edge of Spring’, a ‘best of’ collection of songs from Sally’s self-penned and folk recordings.
Collaborative projects since then include working with Richard Hawley. After singing on his version of the Johnny Cash classic ‘Long Black Veil’ she was then invited to sing on his album ‘Lady’s Bridge’.
Around this time Sally began writing new songs and working with Colin Elliot (long-time co-producer with Richard Hawley) on a series of songs that have become the album ‘Electric Butterfly’. This album is available to buy and songs from this haunting and uplifting collection can be heard on the recordings page.
Other projects include performing and recording with folk artist Donald Grant, a song from which is featured on his album ‘The Way Home’, as well as on Sally’s album ‘Second Time Around’. In 2009 Sally also began working with electro artist Scanner on some exciting new music, some of which had its world premiere at the Geneva Electron Festival.
Sally’s newest project is with jazz pianist Paul Kilvington. Together they have recorded a collection of songs including some original compositions and some interpretations of unusual Latin American songs as well as jazz ballads and a latino folk song that Sally previously recorded with her band the Sumacs. Cellist Liz Hanks is a guest musician on these recordings and they are now available on the album ‘Silent Spaces’. Please visit the recordings page for information and to hear some of the songs.