We caught up with talented Midlands group, the Miss Fortunes to talk dream gigs, vintage style and mash ups
We first encountered the Miss Fortunes over the summer performing at the bandstand in Birmingham Botanical Gardens on a gloriously sunny Sunday and were utterly blown away. The group belted out an eclectic mix of tracks from Forties’ classics through to Bruno Mars Uptown Funk while people of all ages bopped their way through the set on the lawn. It’s quite a talent to entertain toddlers, teenagers and twilighters in one hit, but the girls pulled it off.
We caught up with Jen Lali, aka Miss Chief, who met Miss Fire (Rian Harris) at university in Wolverhampton while studying for a teaching degree which is where the retro magic all began. Jen and Rian both loved music and went to loads of gigs together, but neither had really sung in public. They went to a burlesque show in Wolverhampton and thought the musical interlude was completely out of keeping with the rest of the show. Jen explained: “That kind of show needed a retro, tongue-in-cheek act not the boring entertainment they’d shoehorned in, so it got us thinking.”
Jen and Rian hatched a plan to create a group and do something better. Both loved rockabilly and a retro vibe, so that’s the direction they took. The girls were determined. They knew they could harmonise well after singing along to the many gigs they’d enjoyed together, but putting themselves out there was still a bit of a nerve-wracking prospect. They started going to karaoke to get used to performing and began looking for a third member to complete their dream of a retro trio.
The third member is a bit of a sore subject and it took three attempts to find the right fit in Amy Groom, aka Miss Fit, but it’s now working well. The group began singing to backing tracks and the girls’ first gig was a birthday bash at a cricket club. They started off performing vintage and Forties’ tracks, but progressed to include Fifties, rock ‘n’ roll, rockabilly and Twenties even. Jen said: “We choose songs we like and enjoy doing mash ups where we can.” Their version of Bruno Mars Uptown Funk is a show-stopper. Teaching took a backseat once the Miss Fortunes took off and it became a full-time career. “Teaching full-time and gigging at the weekend wasn’t an option. I couldn’t keep up,” said Jen.
The group has recently started performing with a three-piece band called the Banned which means they have more flexibility and can come up with arrangements outside the norm – not that you’d ever put them into a normal bracket. The style of the group is almost as important as the vocals and the trio looks immaculate at every gig. I’d assumed they had a stylist and certainly a hairdresser to perfect the retro vibe, but no. The girls do it all themselves. They buy clothing online from Lindy Bop or Collective Clothing to achieve the vintage feel and style their own hair.
ALL IN A NAME
The Miss Fortunes name has lent itself to creating personas based on their own characters for each member – Miss Fire, Miss Chief and Miss Fit – which is particularly fun. The girls’ chat on stage and their obvious friendship is compelling and completes the picture.
The group’s best gig to date was with a three-piece live band called at the Dog and Doublet in Wolverhampton. Jen said: “We put all our energy into that and the place was full. It was just electric.”
Interestingly the gig of their dreams would be Jools Holland’s Hootenanny who happens to be gracing this month’s cover. We’ve put in a good word…
MEET THE MISSES
Miss Chief: The brainy blonde of the group, Jen keeps the others in check and loves to sing and dance. The trio is her brainchild and as such she’s constantly pushing for it to be something spectacular and definitely not run of the mill.
Miss Fire: Fiery redhead Rian has a knack of saying the wrong thing at the wrong time inducing fits of giggles as she makes a hash of one-liners and stumbles into unintentional innuendos. Coming from a musical family, Miss Fire has always been a lover of song and dance.
Miss Fit: The newest addition to the group, Amy is the loudest singer with plenty of banter. Singing before she could talk and influenced by her family, music and singing have always been her bag.