“Think Hilaire Belloc does Caitlin Moran”
— The Times
Image of Tanya Holt by Scott Wishart.jpg

I began writing songs as a teenager, forming a folk/pop band in my early 20s and have since written in all kinds of styles including for opera and pantomime. I now work predominantly in musical theatre and cabaret.

A succinct description of my approach to songwriting can be found here.

Arts Council of England funding enabled me to research and create Cautionary Tales for Daughters, a 90-minute song cycle. This piece is the culmination of 3-years of writing and research. Discussions with 200+ people from widely differing demographics informed the choice of themes for the piece which include: yoyo dieting, gender, domestic violence, celebrity, materialism, postnatal depression, indecisiveness and the dangers of cyber-sharing. It was a privilege to have accessed so many personal stories and as the performer and the writer, I wanted to deliver them as honestly as I could. The style of performance is steeped in the interactive traditions of cabaret with the audience contributing their own words of caution as part of the performance which are subsequently woven into a song. Despite the disturbing nature of some of the themes, the show manages to be funny and uplifting and has been praised for its sensitivity. Musically, the characters are represented in different styles from traditional English folk story telling to a representation of grand opera. All of the music, other than two co-compositions with Daniel Dibdin, is written by me.

“An astonishing show”
— Britishtheatre.com*****

Video footage of the show can be found on the Audio and Video page of this website.

Following its inaugural 50-minute performances at Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the show developed into a 90-minute piece receiving a national tour and an extended run at the Jermyn Street Theatre in the West End.

cabaret songwriting

Stalking Bernard.jpg

As a songwriter working mostly within a cabaret context, my output is theatrical but it is unbounded by the stylistic constraints of a single musical model. Two examples of this: Benjamin Britten’s Got Talent is a macabre piece that uses the style of Benjamin Britten’s music to underpin an audition that goes horribly wrong on the TV show and, A Worthie Man of Garish Town, based on the Karadashian family, depicts the vacuous nature of fame, using the structure, simplicity and stylings of traditional English folk music. This is written for 3-voices, accompanied by auto-harp.

My songs are generally of a satirical nature and often funny and have been performed for audiences at hundreds of events. Examples of my writing can be seen and heard on the Audio Video page.

I also write original songs by commission for all kinds of events including product launches, anniversaries and award ceremonies. Please get in touch if you would like to discuss a commission for your event. Here are a couple of samples from commissioned songs for private events:

community collaborations

As a songwriter working within a community context, I work collaboratively with young people in art centres and schools producing original musical stories, some examples of which can be heard on Audio Samples in the Vocal Coach section of this website. Facilitated by me, all the participants are active in the development of plot, lyric writing and the recording process. I also work on a 1-2-1 song writing basis with individuals wanting to develop or experiment as songwriters.