Nicole Tesseyman: Cornish singer releases ‘Why? Why? Why?’

Nicole Tesseyman strums her guitar on a Cornish beach


Many Cornish singers and musicians have hit the big time over past decades. But how many can claim that they did just one gig before being almost immediately signed to a record label on the back of that one gig? Probably no-one. No-one, that is, until Nicole Tesseyman turned up.

That one gig was at the 2022 St Ives September Festival. Tesseyman, a proper Cornish maid born and bred in St Ives, rocked up and played to an audience at a local church and it went well. Damn well. So well that she was recommended to record producer Steve Carrigan at Kidderminster-based label Polyphony Records who signed the artist within two shakes of a Cornish lamb’s tail.

She tells Proper Cornwall: “To my surprise I was signed to a record label. I’d only intended to go busking to find out the hard truth if my songs would go down with people rather than my usual attentive audience of my horse and miniature shetland.”

It wasn’t long before Tesseyman, who has been more of an actor rather than a serious singer-songwriter and musician over the years, released a song. That was ‘Boy Wonder & The Christmas Tree Girl’, which hit the airways less than a month after she was signed. It’s on Spotify, iTunes and YouTube and it’s racking up the hits daily.

But now she has released ‘Why? Why? Why?’ on her record label and it’s racking up even more hits. Check out the recording on YouTube right here…

Clink on the YouTube link!

Tesseyman is a singer-songwriter who plays acoustic guitar and sings folk, country and sea shanty styles. She performs a range of covers and, of course, writes her own material. She is 46 years old and she is adept at sewing humour into her performances alongside all the vocally moving moments.

She has done a few gigs since she was signed and is expected to do the Cornish music festival circuit over the summer. “Since being signed,” she says, “I’ve done a few more gigs but I’m new to the game. It’s all happening so fast but once I get my first EP out, I’ll get a proper gig schedule going. I’m hoping to play as many shows as possible both in Cornwall and far beyond. I want to write songs about the Cornish lifestyle and late nights on Cornish beaches so it’s important that being Cornish is at the heart of what I do.”

Being signed off the back your first ever solo gig is every singer-songwriter’s dream. But Tesseyman does have performance history that goes back before this. She started out acting and singing with ‘The Trencrom Revellers’ in her teens before a stint of work experience at Penzance‘s Acorn Theatre aged 15. She later went to Cornwall College where she continued to sing and perform in groups. She once performed for the then Prince Charles during a visit to the Duchy.

Tesseyman has previously performed with the Dancing Dog Theatre Company, she’s sung live with an a cappella singing group in France and she’s performed with The Brighton and Hove Operatic Society. After living away from the Duchy for a time, she returned home to St Ives and continued her acting career at The Boathouse Theatre, as well as with art clubs and Penzance‘s Blabbermouth Theatre. She also learned the art of puppetry and used to put on puppet shows for kids at The Boathouse before it sadly closed during the pandemic.

She has done voiceover work, life modelling and she even owned her own business, a pre-school singing group in St Ives called Little Larks, until that sadly closed too as a result of the pandemic. But until last September she had never done a solo show, just her, her voice and her guitar playing covers as well as her own music.

Nicole Tesseyman, St Ives singer-songwriter, smiles in a headshot. She has long blond hair
Nicole Tesseyman’s music career is rapidly on the up

“Actually, the COVID pandemic has a big part to play in my music career,” says Tesseyman. “I said goodbye to my theatre career and starting writing songs. One of them was called ‘Old Lockdown’. It was a humorous song that I shared on Facebook to cheer family and friends up. The positive reaction then inspired me to perform to Robyn and Jason Calder, who I’d worked alongside for seven years at the Boathouse Theatre. They really enjoyed my songs and gave me the push I needed to get involved with the 2022 St Ives September Festival, where I played my first solo gig. The rest is now history!”

At the festival in St Ives, the organiser of the events which took place at the town’s St Ia Parish Church, Jo Grant, was the one who ‘discovered’ Tesseyman. The singer says: “She needed someone to warm up for the Four Lanes brass band from near Redruth and took a chance on someone who had never done a solo gig before: me. She later told me that within three seconds of hearing my voice, she knew ‘she had found a diamond’. I ended up warming up for Four Lanes, St Ives singer-songwriter Bailey Tomkinson and Cornish indie-folk and country duo Our Atlantic Roots.”

“I didn’t even bring a mic,” says Tesseyman. “I literally climbed up on to the stage in among all the professional equipment and sang a few songs to warm up for these acts I looked up to. I was terrified, excited and had to use my Cornish sense of humour to cover my nerves and sing as loud as I could to be heard.”

Nicole Tesseyman plkays her guitar on a beach next to a boat in Cornwall. She is a Cornish songwriter
Tesseyman plays a tune next to a Cornish boat

Tesseyman says she then ‘got the courage’ to book her ‘first real gig’ at the St Ives Arts Club, which was sold out not too long after the September festival. It was then that Jo Grant formally put her in touch with Polyphony, sending her song ‘Window in St Ives’ (a tune her mother reckons ‘sounds very Brenda Wootton’ in reference to the celebrated Cornish folk artist) to Carrigan. And, as she said earlier, the rest is indeed history.

Tesseyman is regularly travelling up from Cornwall to her record label’s studios, Load Street Studios, in Kidderminster to record her first country folk and shanty EP, which Proper Cornwall will let you know all about once it’s released in the summer.

“I’m so proud to be Cornish,” she says, “and I’m going to bring back the old Cornish anthems and songs alongside my own material to celebrate the real Cornish ways. I’m a huge Brenda Wootton fan and I am trying to get a male voice choir involved too. I will be writing an album soon so a choir would be perfect for some of my songs on that. I just can’t believe I’ve been snapped up so quickly. I’m excited about the future so, yeah, watch this space!”

Cornish singer-songwriter Nicole Tesseyman wears a red hat. She is playing the St Ives September Festival 2023
Tesseyman looks A sharp in her red hat

Nicole Tesseyman has some upcoming gigs, including at the Halsetown Inn near St Ives between 7pm and 9pm on Wednesday 7 June 2023. She also plays for a Women’s Institute group in St Ives at St John’s in the Fields Church Hall between 2.45pm and 3.15pm on Tuesday 13 June 2023.

On Sunday 2 July 2023 between 9pm and 11pm she plays the Sloop Inn in St Ives and she returns to the pub for the St Ives September Festival 2023 on Sunday 10 September between 9pm and 12 midnight. She plays the St Ives Arts Club in Westcotts Quay between 7.30pm and 8.30pm on Friday 15 September. Oh, and she plays The Engine Inn in Penzance on Saturday 26 August 2023 between 6pm and 8pm too. Snap your tickets up for those gigs when they go on sale and catch one of Cornwall’s fastest rising musical stars. Just her, her voice and her guitar. All you need, really.