b. c.1960, London, England. As a child Kenyon was encouraged to sing and dance, taking lessons and entering arts festival contests; she also played piano and listened to her father’s collection of jazz records. While singing with a school choir at a music festival in Harrow she was heard by Guy Barker, a young musician who was also appearing there. With his encouragement she began moving towards a serious and focused interest in singing. With Barker, she joined Steam Heat, a local jazz rock band, and was then encouraged by him to attend an engagement by the National Youth Jazz Orchestra. There, she sang ‘Summertime’ with the band and to such good effect that NYJO took her on as its first regular band singer, at the age of only 14. With a repertoire of quality songs, many of them written especially for her by Bill Ashton and others, Kenyon quickly became an integral part of the band’s performances, singing with the ensemble in addition to performing solos. With NYJO she toured extensively, appeared on television and record, and at the Royal Command Variety Performance, London, in 1978.
On leaving NYJO, Kenyon sang with Car Park, an outfit formed from NYJO members, with the band led by Dick Morrissey and Jim Mullen, and frequently appeared on television in support of better-known artists. She also toured internationally with some of them, including Mick Jagger. She then joined Heaven 17, who in 1983 charted at number 2 in the UK with ‘Temptation’. Signed to A&M Records and relaunched as the ‘Warrior Woman’, complete with gimmicky black leather gear and a live hawk, she made more records. She was then with Go West, and in 1986 teamed with Paul Hardcastle for further chart successes, particularly with ‘Don’t Waste My Time’, which reached number 5. She continued to work on television and also sang on motion picture soundtracks, and in 1995 appeared again at the Royal Command Variety Performance, this time opening the show.
Always singing with superb control and great flair, Kenyon’s stylistic range appears unlimited. In addition to straight pop and the jazz-inflected ballads she sang with NYJO, she has also sung in a classical vein, performing memorably on NYJO’s ‘The Sherwood Forest Suite’, composed by Paul Hart, and a 1996 album aimed at the elusive classical crossover market. An enormously versatile singer with a secure musical foundation, Kenyon seems well-placed to continue expanding her growing audience well into the twenty-first century.