My music mentor

,  3 February 2011

Performing artist Carol Leeming mentors young vocalist Mellow Baku. They spoke to Creative Choices about how the mentoring relationship benefits both of them.

Carol Leeming

"When you're in a mentoring relationship, it forces you, when you say something, to be something that you really believe in."

"The mentoring relationship that I've had with Mellow has been really about music and about being an artist, and in particular being a singer performing.

“As time wore on, we also have a friendship. There was lots and lots of conversations about music, about singing, about being a woman in the music business, having a band…"

The benefits of having a mentor

Mellow Baku

"There's often a big divide between the artist and the venue, or the promoter, or all the other aspects of the music industry. The people that you work with the most are often almost not on your side, and sometimes be a bit exploitative as well.

“Carol has actually advocated on my behalf when I've had difficulties with contracts and situations that have not been right. It's knowing that somebody's there who's interested in you and got your best interests at heart and will back you up on things like that.

"Carol's also done a lot of introducing me to people, connections really. I think a lot of mentoring is about gatekeeping and signposting and that kind of thing.

“She did actually hook me up with an official mentor that I worked with for a couple of years as well, John Hart, which was a different sort of thing completely. The official mentoring which was part of a mentoring scheme in which he got paid to do it. That was something where we met every couple of weeks and looked at a targeted specific plan.

"I've also gone on to do a bit of informal mentoring with other vocalists around me, but also within workshops with young people as well."

The benefits of being a mentor

Carol Leeming

"When you're in a mentoring relationship, it forces you, when you say something, to be something that you really believe in. If you say something about copyrights, it's actually based on real experience, it's based on real knowledge."

"Find the artists in your own environment. Go and see their work, strike up a conversation, get to know them."

"I really do value [Mellow’s] opinions and her insights. So I think over time, that kind of informal mentoring relationship, the dynamics of it can change and grow.

"To those people that think they don't have time, I think it's something you should make time for. I see it as overall professional development, and that's ongoing.

“So you may have reached a certain point in your career, your art form, but when you're mentoring someone it makes you reflect on what you do and why you do it.

How to get a mentor

Carol Leeming

"I would say to any young person: find out who the artists are in your own environment. Go and see their work, see whose work that you like or you feel some good vibes about, and strike up a conversation, get to know them.

“There are now creative networks building up, formal and informal networks, and you need to be a part of that."


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