Interview with Wedding Singer Nell Shakespeare
Music sets the tone for every event and is one of my top priorities for organising a memorable wedding day.
It can create a soundtrack for your ceremony, showcase your personality and set the right mood starting from the welcome drink till the very end of the celebration. Live music during the ceremony is something I highly recommend. Ibiza is well known for it’s music scene and researching and organising this part of your wedding day is one of my favourite parts of the planning process. Therefore, I am happy to introduce you to singer and acoustic guitarist Nell Shakespeare, who specialises in creating unique moments as a solo artist, duo, trio, band and as a DJ! It’s a pleasure working with her, not only because of her different projects, experience, passion and impressive repertoire but also because of her soulful voice, which has made her an Ibiza favourite.
I asked Nell a few questions to help you choose your wedding music:
Interview with Wedding Singer Nell Shakespeare
Hi Nell, tell us a little about yourself, how you started making music and performing on Ibiza?
Hi Marcella, thanks for featuring me on your blog this week. So I moved to Ibiza from the UK back in 2009, which just seems such a long time ago now. I can’t believe I spent all my twenties here! I didn’t actually arrive with the intention of becoming a singer here at all; I was quite shy, believe it or not. It’s been amazing though, gaining that confidence and credibility in the last 9 years. It all started with a few kind words and a push in the right direction and now I can say I’ve performed in many of the super clubs, exclusive venues and hotels. My favourite though, is to perform at weddings. It’s been my main focus now for about 5 years.
Looking in your musical roots – which musicians and songwriters have been the greatest influence?
Oh wow, so many! I’m a self-taught singer and guitarist so my music collection is what’s shaped me and it’s so varied. Vocally, it was Aretha Franklin, Etta James, Alicia Keys, Sheryl Crow, Feist, Destiny’s Child, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Michael Jackson, Al Green, Fleetwood Mac… mostly funk and soul singers I suppose but I’ve always loved rock and indie too and then since coming here, house music, of course.
"I guess I’m a romantic person so it’s suits me down to the ground"
What inspired you to become a wedding singer?
The first wedding I performed at was at Boutique Hostal Salinas for some friends in my first year on Ibiza. I was really nervous and took my role seriously, making sure I was well rehearsed and well turned out but it went so well and they were really happy! Then looking around, everyone was so happy!!
It’s just a beautiful day to be a part of! Since performing more and more every year, my love for it only grows. It’s in the love stories, meeting the friends and family, learning those meaningful songs for the ceremony, being part of their vision from the moment the email arrives in my inbox and helping materialise it with my music. I guess I’m a romantic person so it’s suits me down to the ground!
What is your repertoire like and do you have song suggestions for wedding ceremonies?
My repertoire is big! (laughs) I last counted 462 songs that I can play solo with my guitar. That doesn’t include the hundreds of backing track options or songs I perform with my other groups! I love to come up with my own version of great songs. When you strip a song down to it’s bones and play it with just one voice and one acoustic guitar, then you really know when you’ve got a really great song! Mine spans nearly 70 years and many genres and artists from Louis Armstrong to Lana Del Rey, Foo Fighters to Four Tops, Masters at Work to Marlena Shaw…
Couples can, of course, choose their own songs for me to learn for their wedding and this really adds a special touch. Sometimes, it’s a total surprise to the bride when she walks down the aisle and there I am, performing a version of the song that was playing when they first kissed or something… it’s a tear jerker!
You perform as a solo artist but you have other projects and bands too. Can you tell us a bit more about your different wedding bands?
Yeah, I love performing alone, whether it’s with my acoustic, or singing with a DJ but I can’t resist the pull of working with other musicians.
So there’s "The Topaz Movement" and we are a jazz-infused house trio. We remake some absolute dance floors classics and it’s comes across more like a DJ set but with jaw dropping live elements of vocals, piano, trumpet and violin.
Another Ibiza veteran, Jude Elliott and I formed “Coco” about 2 years ago and our voices together with the acoustic guitar sound great… I’ve always loved harmonies. I’m actually working on another new act right now, but without wanting to say too much too soon, I recommend anyone reading to follow me on Instagram or Facebook to hear more about that!
What are your favourite memories of being a wedding singer on Ibiza?
Oh good question! I played a wedding once in Sa Capella and the couple had chosen the songs for me to feature in my set in a really unique way. Each song they wanted was a favourite song of one of their guests, not that the guests knew this at the time. This was unbeknownst to me too and I was actually quite concerned they’d picked a lot of, let’s say, “unromantic” songs to be played but sure enough, with literally every song I played, the guest in question would go wild and by 20 seconds into every song, the whole wedding party was standing up from their dinners and singing along from their dining tables, absolutely loving every second! By the end of this night, I ended up feeling like part of the family myself, it was really unforgettable.
I’ve also had a couple of great jams with the guests themselves, getting on the mic and borrowing my guitar for a song, that’s always great. I did an acoustic karaoke afternoon once the day after a wedding in Can Gall and that was hilarious… I’d love to do something like that again… the grandad singing The Jam after a few too many drinks was very memorable!
Meeting Kelsey Grammar from Frasier at a wedding you organised comes to mind too, especially as he said he loved my music! Thanks Kelsey!
Any advice for couples looking for a wedding singer?
I would say don’t be shy about having an initial phone or video call with your prospective wedding singer, especially, if you’re not too sure about the when’s, how’s and what’s. It’s a great way to get a sense of that person and have your experience tailor made. There’s a lot of options and this can be confusing but it doesn’t have to be. This is a great opportunity too, to really ask for what you want, and you might just get it.
In my case, for example, I have performed successfully with countless Ibiza musicians so although my website doesn’t advertise, for example, a duo with a male singer, I could definitely give you a few options, come up a great set list and deliver that service bespoke to you! It’s your wedding, after all, so have it your way!
I’d also advise asking the wedding professionals who they would recommend. There’s a lot more to it than just sounding the part. You want to make sure this person is reliable and all bases are covered, leaving you feeling at ease to just enjoy the music!
Look for those whose sound equipment is provided in the price too as that can save you hundreds!
"I love getting my teeth into new ideas"
Do you have new songs in your repertoire you’re looking forward to perform this season?
Oh yes, all the time! Recent additions are “Best of My Love” by The Emotions, “Something Going On” by Todd Terry and “Fly Me To The Moon” by Frank Sinatra… I love getting my teeth into new ideas!
Thank you Nell!