CUMBRIAN singer Jess Dandy is making a name for herself on both sides of the Atlantic.

In the next few weeks and months she is making her debut at the prestigious Carnegie Hall in New York. And that's on top of singing in Barcelona, Bowness and Barrow!

The 29-year-old contralto – who grew up in Barrow and attended Chetwynde School – this week revealed how her musical journey began in Cumbria.

"I started singing at school, I started singing lessons when I was eight years old," said Jess. "I had a fantastic teacher who was hugely inspiring, Jeremy Monro, and there was quite a lot of music making going on at home.

"My grandfather had been a chorister at St George's in London, so there was a real love of music making when I was growing up. I was a really irritating child in the sense that I wanted to play every musical instrument under the sun."

As a result of such a musical background, Jess learned to play the piano, violin, flute and the viola, before heading off to Cambridge to study French and German.

At that point, she had no plans for a career in music, but that changed at university, where she attended Trinity College.

"I didn't really take music seriously until I got to university and I joined the college choir. I started to meet people for whom a chance of becoming a professional singer was a possibility, so I started to think about it."

After completing her studies at Trinity, Jess then attended the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London.

"I felt an insatiable pull to music," she said.

Jess has been taught by London-based Gary Coward for four years, and has earned glowing reviews for her performances throughout Europe.

"I rarely sing in English which is quite staggering. I sing in French, German, Spanish, Italian, Russian and Japanese a couple of times," she said.

This week she is heading to Barcelona to perform solos by Beethoven, and after that will fly to the United States and perform music by the same composer in internationally famous venue Carnegie Hall, New York.

"It will feel quite surreal to be treading those boards. I have been performing in Europe for a while, but I feel like I don't perform in the UK as much as I would like.

"I love being a singer. It feels like a holiday, particularly when you are doing something you love. It is quite a surreal privilege, but I love to come home to Cumbria quite a lot."

And Jess will perform in the Old Laundry Theatre, in Bowness, on March 14, with Ulverston-based pianist Martin Roscoe, and then at St Mary's RC Church in Barrow on May 23.

Jess is also co-founder of SongPath – a travelling concert series to promote walking, talking and music-making for mental health. Last year the event raised £6,000 for Mind in Barrow and Ulverston, and the aim is to repeat it this year.