Gemma Brandy Boyd is a Brummie from Walsall in the West Midlands, and was born on 2nd September 1975.
Music has been the one joyous, healing thread that's run throughout Gemma's life, even though at times she hasn't wanted it to be: She loved listening to her dad's Buddy Holly record collection as a child, achieved her Grade 5 Piano, Grade 5 Theory of Music, Grade 5 Violin and Grade 8 Double Bass, and had an intense love/hate relationship with her double bass at university.
As a star-struck teenager, Gemma fantasized about being the next Kate O'Mara or Dame Helen Mirren; pictures of whom, densely lined her bedroom walls. After doing a Saturday job in Spar supermarket and being an Avon representative, Gemma decided that she wanted to pursue a career in television - either as an actress, producer or director, and joined the Grange Players Theatre Company and Rage Young Peoples' Theatre.
Gemma left Barr Beacon School, Aldridge, with ten GCSEs (including grade 'A's in Music, French and Art) and two A Levels in English Literature and Art. She had developed into a very self-conscious, awkward young woman and a staunch vegetarian, who could have easily spent all of her time dangling her legs from Enid Blyton's 'The Magic Faraway Tree'.
Chichester is one of Gemma's favourite places because positive things have always happened for her there: She graduated with a '2:1' BA (Hons) degree in Related Arts and English from the University of Chichester in 1998, and embarked on a seven-year stint working as an usher, box office assistant and dresser in mainstream theatres (Chichester Festival Theatre, the Shaftesbury Theatre in the West End and the National Theatre, London). She returned to Chichester in 2006 to do the jazz course at Chichester College, and left with a 'Double Distinction' Edexcel Level 3 BTEC National Certificate in Music Practice.
At the same time as dressing at the National, Gemma set up and ran creative writing workshops in London with homeless people at St Mungo's North Lambeth Day Centre in Waterloo, the Union Chapel Project in Highbury and the Spires Centre in Streatham. She published and edited a magazine for group members which appeared on the shelves of The Poetry Library in the Royal Festival Hall, and realised that the worlds of celebrity and the homeless are not so very different! This period also heralded the publication of her own poetry in various magazines and journals.
Missing the sea, Gemma moved to Brighton & Hove in 2001 and worked as a support worker for young adults with learning difficulties. She also qualified with NCFE Level 3 Certificates in Integrative Hypnotherapy and Psychotherapy, and Counselling Skills and Theory. During her training to become a therapist, however, Gemma did a lot of painful but enlightening soul-searching; the result of which being the realization that music is what she loves to do. She reached her goal of earning a living as a self-employed professional musician, and worked as a volunteer at the National Jazz Archive in Loughton. Here she researched, précised and online-catalogued the Johnny Simmen Archive; a collection of letters written by over one hundred and sixty jazz musicians, donated by John Chilton.
Gemma is currently working as a musician, double bass, piano and violin teacher, freelance writer, visual artist, creative coder and poet in Essex, London and Paris, runs an allotment in Hainault, Essex, and fundraises for Marie Curie cancer care. In 2016 she excelled at the FutureLearn course, An Introduction to Forensic Science with the University of Strathclyde, and is considering pursuing this fascinating subject further.