THERE cannot be many singer/songwriters who have started their careers by winning a competition on a chocolate bar wrapper.

That's kind of how it all started for Irish-born musician Kal Lavelle.

"I think there must have been some kind of genetic pre-destination thing," she begins, "because none of my family are particularly musical. I mean no one plays an instrument."

Which is why it's a little odd that when Kal won a £1,000 in a Mars Bar when she was ten years-old she went out and bought a guitar.

"Well I bought my Mum a washing machine first," she corrects me. "Then I went and got a guitar.

"Me and my friend Alice, who was two years older, used to go to the shops and buy chocolate and lemonade and then sit and watch the world go by.

"The nearest shop to us was the golf course shop so what we did was collect golf balls from the nearby course and then sell them back to the golfers and with that money we would buy our chocolate.

"On that day we went back to her place to eat the chocolate and I just remember asking her whether she had won anything and she said 'no' and then ripping the bar to reveal I had. It was an incredible feeling.

"We were very working class so I don't think I ever would have been able to afford it normally. Before that my Mum had bought me a small Casio keyboard, which I used to write songs on, but my parents were never too encouraging about it. I think they thought I was just having a play but as I got the desire to make music never went away."

By her own confession Kal never really started to play, seriously, until she was 16.

"I was on a school trip to the West of Ireland," she tells me, "and a friend said to one of the teachers 'listen to Kal's song, it's really good' and so I picked up a guitar and started playing but just one string and the teacher said 'that's not playing the guitar'. That was the catalyst for me."

And boy what a catalyst .

After moving to London ten years ago, initially to study, by her own admission she's stayed a lot longer than she had planned.

That's because things have gone rather well for Kal.

Her debut EP Shivers climbed to number 5 in the iTunes UK Singer/Songwriter chart while iTunes stores in the US and Japan featured her in their 'New and Noteworthy' section. This in turn led to her song Breakfast At Tiffanys being chosen as Single of the Week on iTunes in the UK, which was eventually downloaded more than 60,000 times.

As is so often the case, one thing leads to another and when Artful Dodger's Mark Hill heard her vocals he asked her to feature on his track Could Just Be The Bassline. The song made Music Week's prestigious Playlist, was Radio One DJ MistaJam's Jam Hot record of the week and was playlisted on Radio 1Xtra.

Other radio play has included three of her tracks being featured on Tom Robinson's BBC Radio 6 show and her song Downstairs selected for the BBC Introducing Podcast.

Since then Kal has supported the likes of Bastille, Paper Aeroplanes, Lucy Spraggan, The Beach Boys, Martin Carthy and James Brown.

Her biggest slot has to be when Ed Sheeran took Kal on tour in the UK and Ireland and asked her to support him at his then biggest headline show at Thetford Forest in 2012, playing to 10,000 people.

And it's just got better and better.

In 2014, Kal went international playing the Amsterdam Coffee Festival in the Netherlands, Harrods in London, her first US show in Rockwood Music Hall in New York, and then travelled to Palestine to perform at Bethlehem Live Festival

Most recently last year The British Library requested Kal's music to be placed in the British Library's Sound Archive, which she described as a great honour.

"I've been so lucky," she says. "If I didn't write music I think I would be a in a looney bin by now because it's the one way I can really express myself.

"I cannot wait to come and play Colchester. I kind of know the place because so many of my friends are from there. Rhiannon Mair is a really great friend of mine and we've played loads of gigs together. I'm always at her house and she's constantly telling me what a great place Colchester is so it's great to finally be playing there.

"It's funny that I haven't really because when Fiona Bevan and I toured together she took me to a lot of places in East Anglia including this lovely church in Ipswich, which was stunning. But she was also telling me about Colchester and how we should play there."

Kal Lavelle with support from Anna Pancaldi plays the Three Wise Monkeys on Thursday, April 21.

It's part of a series of events being run by Colchester promoter Sophie Pol-Simon where entry is free and a special snack menu is being provided for the gigs.

For more information on Kal go to


KAL Lavelle is one of a number of up and coming female singer/songwriters who are currently dominating the London acoustic music scene, three of which come from Colchester.

As well as playing regular gigs with Rhiannon Mair and Anna Pancaldi, who will be supporting Kal when she plays the Three Wise Monkeys next week, Kal has had a long association with former Colchester County High School for Girls student Fiona Bevan.

Perhaps most famous for co-writing Little Things for One Direction with Ed Sheeran, Fiona has done a number of projects with Kal including Ten Pieces, a Nationwide project featuring Kal and Fiona giving their top tips on songwriting to seven to 11 year olds, which was shown in schools all over the UK.

They also performed a sold out double headline tour called The Song Sisters Tour which was inspired by the fact only 13 per cent of the songwriters registered to songwriting rights society PRS For Music were female.