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Lancaster Jazz Festival to host gig for Deaf and BSL audiences

Lancaster Jazz Festival will for the first time host a performance featuring British Sign Language (BSL) interpretation.

The Nishla Smith Quintet, who open Jazz North’s northern line showcase at this year’s festival on Friday 13 September, will have their lyrics and speech interpreted for audiences with hearing loss.

Diane Dewhirst, a qualified BSL interpreter with over 24 years experience in the field, will attend the gig as an avid jazz fan herself.

11 million people in the UK experience some degree of hearing loss and Lancaster Jazz Festival is pleased to be able to take a step in the right direction by making the Nishla Smith Quintet performance more accessible for deaf and hard of hearing audiences.

Nishla Smith is an exceptional jazz vocalist whose original songs have a delicate, quirky but deceptively simple air about them making the quintet the ideal band for BSL interpretation.

Nishla has a quietly commanding presence and a relaxed but assured delivery that wins over audiences instantly. Her often dreamy and melancholic aura is offset with her energetic and imaginative band of Manchester’s finest young contemporary improvisers.

Speaking ahead of the festival, Lancaster Jazz Festival Manager Lucy Wooley said:

“As a festival we have worked hard to make our performances as accessible to as many people as possible and this is another step forward in that respect. Nishla’s beautiful lyrics are perfect for such a gig and we are delighted to be able to have them interpreted for BSL users. Unfortunately this type of offering is all too rare in British festivals at the moment but we hope to be able to go some way to changing that.”

The Nishla Smith Quintet will perform in Sun Square in the heart of Lancaster at 12.30pm on Friday 13 September. The performance, which is free, is the first of seven as part of Jazz North’s northern line showcase on the day, featuring the very best emerging jazz artists in the north of England.

Lancaster Jazz Festival takes place in a variety of venues across Lancaster between 11-15 September. For more information visit lancasterjazz.com.

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