Entertainment & Arts

Talking Shop: Leddra Chapman

On the day we meet Leddra Chapman, the 20-year-old singer-songwriter was woken up by her mother telling her Radio 2 DJ Chris Evans was literally playing her song.

Image caption The Brentwood-based artist is yet to be signed to a major record label

"She was in the car and she was like, 'Turn the radio on!'" laughs the Essex-born performer. "I crawled into the kitchen and was like, 'Wow - this is mental.'"

If truth be told, Chapman's gentle, heartfelt and homespun melodies - taken from her debut album Telling Tales - have become something of a fixture on the nation's favourite radio station.

She's currently on the station's B playlist, she has performed live on Janice Long's show, while Sir Terry Wogan featured her first single, Story, on his programme for seven straight weeks.

"Having people play my songs and say they love them is pretty epic," grins the singer, who is seeing the fruits of a songwriting career that began at the tender age of 12.

In the week her latest single is released, this rising young talent tells the BBC News website about beating bullies, her toy piano and what she thinks of a certain Geordie duo.

So how did you get started in music?

I started writing songs because I was being bullied at school. My parents realised I had a knack for it, so they helped me record some demos in my dad's garage studio. We put some online just for the fun of it and we ended up getting a couple of local gigs. Before we knew it I was doing gigs in London and got signed up.

So do you think the bullying had a positive outcome?

Image caption Her debut album, Telling Tales, was released last year

I do like to look back and say a positive came out of it. Everybody gets bullied at school, some worse than others; everyone goes through an awful time. For me writing was a way of releasing myself from it; it was my way of having my say.

I used to perform in school assemblies; I'd write songs about the people who were bullying me and tell a thousand girls how I was feeling. Who gets to do that? Anyone can be a horrible person and punch somebody, but not many people go, 'I'm going to write a song about it and sing it to you, how do you like that?'

How do you find it now you're doing it professionally?

It's an adventure, with a lot of ups and downs. Sometimes I'll do a gig like the one at the Jazz Café in Camden in February, which was the biggest, most amazing night of my life. And sometimes it'll be a more humble gig and there won't be as many people there, but there are still really passionate fans who'll be singing along to my songs. It's really mental and very rollercoaster-y.

How would you describe your songs?

I've always written from the heart and tried to create a sound that was true to me. It's very honest; I think that's what people like about it. I like to think I'm in my own slot and I don't think about what's current.

Tell us about your latest single, Summer Song.

Image caption TV presenters Ant and Dec have seen her perform live in London

It's literally about summer time, as clichéd as it sounds; I wanted to write something that was playful and happy. The toy piano I play on it reflects that playfulness.

I need to get a new one; Ethel's had it now, bless her. She's been on tour since November and she's not very rock 'n' roll.

Are you?

I'm the most un-rock 'n' roll person you'll ever meet! I'm very well-behaved before gigs. When I want to I can go a bit wild, but only when I'm not gigging. It's just not worth it; my voice is so fragile that if I ever was to be around smoke or alcohol too much it would ruin it.

Have you any famous fans?

Ant and Dec came to the Jazz Cafe and were really wicked; they're my favourite famous fans. They're such nice guys; the second you're having a conversation with them it's like you've known them for years. They're exactly how they are on TV, which is why they've done so well I think.

Could you ever see yourself on Britain's Got Talent?

I do watch it every now and then but I can't ever see myself on it to be honest. It's not for me; I'm not even sure I'd get through!

Summer Song is available now. Leddra Chapman was speaking to BBC News entertainment reporter Neil Smith.

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