Published: 10/03/2005, Volume II5, No. 5946 Page 36

Joy Bailey is something of a celebrity in Exeter. With four jazz albums to her name, and a sell-out gig, Rhythm and Rumours, taking place this month at the Barnfield Theatre, Exeter, It is surprising that she's stuck to nursing for the past 20 years.

'I have been singing since I was about seven - I was always up the front in my school choir, ' says Joy, a community nurse at Exeter primary care trust. 'One day the town mayor was in the audience and he recommended that the headmistress arrange singing lessons for me.

'I began my classical training soon after and was eventually awarded a scholarship at a London music school. I was 18 and was driven to the audition in London in a Rolls Royce, which was very surreal - I prayed that my friends would spot me.

'After I graduated I carried on with my singing alongside training to be a nurse while living in Northampton. I joined a local jazz group and we rehearsed after work and played gigs at weekends.

'Since moving to Exeter I have been gigging more than ever. I moved into community nursing so there are less constraints on my time, which makes it easier to arrange rehearsals. At the moment, I am helping to arrange the Rhythm and Rumours gig, which showcases work from my Rumours album.

'It is already sold out, but we are hoping to get financial backing so we can take it on tour.

'I've sung alongside Roy Castle and Bruce Turner but my idol is Ella Fitzgerald.

As I write my own material, she is such a great inspiration to me.'