Kitchman / Schmidt

The Pheasantry (Chelsea)

James Kitchman (UK) and Sylvia Schmidt (DE) are a guitar-vocal duo whose original sound embraces the dynamic tension between forces of preservation and transformation. Two compelling musicians drawn together by an expansive approach to song and interpretation, they share an affinity for the Anglo-American folk songs of the Appalachian mountains. The debut album ‘As Long As Songbirds Sing’ is due for release in June 2020, and includes the track 'I Wonder As I Wander' which was selected by BBC Radio 3 to be aired on the Christmas eve ‘Breakfast Show’, 2019.

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Book tickets for Kitchman / Schmidt

James Kitchman (guitar) and Sylvia Schmidt (vocals) met in 2014 - on stage at one of London’s late night jam sessions. They both hail from rural backgrounds with strong musical traditions; James from Northumberland and Sylvia from Saxony, Germany. Each immersed in a variety of styles from a young age; James began performing with Ceilidh bands, wrote songs and played in bands as a teenager before studies in jazz and improvisation.

Sylvia grew up with a family tradition of German folk songs, rounds, and medieval minnesang, singing in a Irish trad band in her teens, while studying both classical and jazz voice. Drawn together by an expansive approach to song and interpretation; they found inspiration and a shared affinity for the Anglo-American folk songs of the Appalachian mountains. Compelled by the way this traditional music had been transformed following its migration to America, they were also profoundly influenced by singer/songwriter and folklorist John Jacob Niles.

This eccentric performer collected many songs, and while capturing their essential experience, interpreted them through the lens of his own personality. Their sound embraces the dynamic tension between forces of preservation and transformation, creating a space in which the haunting beauty of nostalgia and irresistibility of change intersect.

The debut album As Long As Songbirds Sing is due for release in June 2020. Their adaptation of the song 'I Wonder As I Wander' that features on the album was selected by BBC Radio 3 to be played on the Christmas eve ‘Breakfast Show’, 2019. Between them, they have performed at many major venues in the UK and Europe. These include: Royal Albert Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Kings Place, Sage Gateshead, Ronnie Scott’s, and Union Chapel. Other appearances include; BBC Proms, Aldeburgh, Three Choirs, and Grime-born Opera Festival, as well as numerous international jazz festivals. They have toured and held residencies across Europe. “It is profound and enchanting to hear her voice, sweet as liquid gold, and James’s gentle and receptive guitar playing, filling the air with the resonance of distant lands, inviting timeless meanings.” Recent online review of appearance at EFG London Jazz Festival by author Peter Stickland.

Band Lineup

Sylvia Schmidt (voice)

James Kitchman (guitar)

+ special guest