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You have to do something for you once in your life.” Norda Mullen, 58, year old flautist for the Moody claims, looking ten years younger than her years, thanks she says to having a Greek mother (the Greeks have good skin) and a good diet and lifestyle (she tries to go to yoga every day). “I have spent my life making others look and sound good. Now I want to do it for myself.” Thus began the process of her making her own solo music. Now living in Richmond with her husband Kelvin and two dogs (who both have a mention on her first CD), she chose to live in here because “it’s beautiful, and right next to beautiful urban London. However, the parking attendants suck!” “My family are all very musical. I was brought up on ragtime, gospel, the blues, classical music, and rock and roll. Everything was ragtime, even Happy Birthday was turned into Ragtime, but I was born in Mississippi so what do you expect? I was brought up within a family where music was the heart and soul of our life. I love the range of music here in England as well … anything from the best in Classical to rock, pop, anything and everything. And I’m unconventional.” This unconventional flautist, rather than staying in the background out of the spotlight, frequently high kicks on stage while managing to play faultlessly. “No, I’m not a conventional classical musician,” she admits, also telling me she’s a 4th Degree Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do, which with the yoga keeps her fit. A normal day for a musician is not normal. She wakes up late, drinks coffee, goes to yoga, and may be writes a ‘tune’ as she calls it. “I was about eight when I discovered I loved music. How could you not being brought up in a family of six children?” Inspired by Annie Lennox (who she would love to play with one day, who is also a trained classical flautist), Peter Gabriel and Chrissie Hynde, she’s a lover of Tchaikovsky, Debussy and Beethoven. “I would come home at the age of eight and listen to Tchaikovsky four or five times each evening, over and over again. I must have driven my parents mad. But we also had so much pop, blues, and gospel in the house at the same time. I grew up with hippy sisters, who played Bob Dylan, Dire Straits, the Rolling Stones, the Moody Blues, and my mother played mandolin, so it was the most mixed cacophony of music you can imagine.” The tracks on ‘Norda’ have the clear crisp, emotive voice, think Enya and Annie Lennox but with a raw, visceral quality of someone equally as happy in rock as in classical. And of course, she plays the flute. Justin Hayward discovered her in LA in 1996 when she was doing session work – movies and commercials. “I don’t believe I saved the Moody Blues. Their music is timeless – that’s why they are still going strong,” she says modestly. Justin Hayward, John Lodge and Graeme Edge, the stalwarts of the band, have all been very supportive of Norda’s initiative. “They’ve all been very supportive which is wonderful.” she says. All the tracks on her solo CD are inspired by her own life, including the first, which is dedicated to her father who died in 2013. Norda teaches out of her home in Richmond. “I love teaching young flautists and I teach guitar as well. It’s very inspiring listening to the young play. To be good you need to practice and practice more!” Norda herself trained at Mississippi State University when she was only thirteen. Following that, she attended Interochen National Music Camp during the summers in Michigan for four years, studying with Alexander Murray of the London Symphony, and then onto Northwestern University in Chicago, as a flute performance major, studying with Walfrid Kujala, the piccoloist from the Chicago Symphony. I’ve played everywhere from Monaco, in front of Princes and Kings, the Royal Albert Hall, and the good and great venues throughout the United States, including the Hollywood Bowl. I’ve toured with the Moody Blues for the past 16 years. It has been wonderful.
Norda, the CD, and her second CD, Give It Up, are both available on Amazon and cdBaby.com.ives