Introducing Anna Pancaldi
PUBLISHED: 10:16 25 August 2015 | UPDATED: 10:16 25 August 2015
Music has been in the blood of Anna Pancaldi for as long as she can remember and so much of her passion for life has been inspired by her upbringing in Chappel. Sybilla Hart met this talented artist poised to be the next chart-topping sensation from our county
Essex musician Anna Pancaldi is not at all what I expected. In her online music video she cuts a sultry figure, all billowing blonde hair whipping around her face on a stormy beach. So when I meet Anna in person at a private gig at Stanley Hall in Pebmarsh, I was surprised when she had us all in hysterics. Far from the earnest, distant beauty, Anna is in fact a proper, down to earth Essex girl and a comedienne to boot.
She put on a silly voice and told us funny stories about the shoot for her music video on the beach in Kent, where the crew narrowly escaped being struck by lightening. Anna could not have been more charming and approachable. In fact, she is the very antithesis of the archetypical music diva. Not only is she a joy to listen to, she is just the sort of person who you could happily spend hours chatting with over a cup of tea. I have to keep reminding myself she is a songstress, not my new best friend.
Anna has been tipped as the next Joni Mitchell by Emerging Icons who describe her as having the, ‘emotive presence of Eva Cassidy’ while BBC London presenter Gaby Roslin couldn’t believe she was still unsigned and thought her performance was nothing short of ‘sensational’.
Anna does seem to be making ripples wherever she goes. Pre-orders for her album Black Tears even outdid the rhapsodical Ed Sheeran and on release day she topped number 52 in the charts and came in sixth place in the iTunes singer songwriter chart. Anna has spent the past month on tour and is currently performing in Devon. By all accounts, she is going down very well in the West Country. She made her debut last year at Glastonbury and will wind up her summer of touring at the Cambridge Folk festival, an apt place for her given her style of music.
Anna was seven years old when the family moved from Burnham on Crouch to Chappel, where she spent five blissful years of her childhood. She is full of surprises and you would never guess from her performance at Stanley Hall that she ever suffered from stage fright. This severe bout took hold from a very early age, while performing at a competition in Sudbury. Thanks to the tough love she attributes to her coach, she managed to conquer her fears after the family relocated to South Africa when she was 12 years old. Despite the obstacles, Anna has been driven to succeed by her innate love of singing. Something she describes as, ‘always a part of my inner most being. Not something I nurtured, or grew to love, but just in my blood’.
The debilitating stage fright was banished once and for all when Anna went travelling. ‘I found the anonymity really helpful,’ she explains. It was on her travels that Anna had the opportunity to perform on stage and at last felt comfortable doing so. She is still something of a globetrotter and declares how she wants to see, ‘as much of this amazing planet as I can’.
Anna’s parents, a fashion designer and artist, now live on the Orkney Islands, but returned to Essex, after their time in South Africa, when Anna was 15. The cottage where the family lived in Chappel, called Rosemary, holds some of Anna’s dearest childhood memories. ‘I wish we still had that house!’ she says wistfully. The home was a red brick Georgian cottage with white-tipped jasmine hanging over the bright red door.
‘It’s funny,’ Anna continues. ‘When you look back at your younger years, the things that are seemingly insignificant become the most poignant. That inanimate object, being our front door, was the door we would welcome back our brother from Scotland where he used to work and our family friends visiting from South Africa. It was the door that my granny would knock on with one of her delicious homemade sponges, the door that opened onto the most cherished Christmases with family and friends and it was the door to our home, with which I hold so much affection.’
In the back garden there was a small courtyard full of lush green plants, a grapevine and a mini pond. Within those walls the family celebrated Anna’s 18th birthday and her mum’s 50th birthday.
‘Our home has always been an open one, for the most part filled with laughter, joy and the happiest of times. I love the fact that the door was always ajar for anyone to pop in for an impromptu cup of tea or dinner. My parents loved the hustle and bustle of people coming and going, that happiness wrapped around the walls of Rosemary, it was special like that.’
The front garden was flourishing with bursts of colour thanks to her mother’s love of gardens. Geraniums, roses, foxgloves, poppies, heather and lavender were scattered around surrounded by a black iron fence, brick walkway and a little gate. The house was next to the village pub by the bridge. Chappel certainly still holds a special place in Anna’s heart. ‘The countryside was beautiful. There was field upon field of sun-filled buttercups. My big brother Joey and little sister Charity and I were never too far from a field or forest for adventures. We had barbeques, endless games of failed badminton and built kennels for Joe’s dog, Stanley.’
The family had the perfect view of the viaduct, the second largest brick structure after the Battersea Power Station. Anna continues: ‘As mischievous children I recall Joey trying to climb up there for the view over Chappel. We would explore the World War II anti-tank defenses, go blackberry picking and fish in the stream with our nephew, James.’
Her brother Joe helped plant a huge field full of silver birch many years ago in the field next to the Millennium green. ‘It’s so wonderful to go back now and see how they have grown so tall, a little imprint of our family I guess.’
When I ask if there are any ambitions to move back to Essex, the answer is an unequivocal, yes.
‘With my music I can see myself being all over the place and based in London, but one day I would love to buy back Rosemary Cottage, if it is ever possible, and keep it in the family.’