Soundette

Soundette were a Maryport trio who were very popular all over the north.

The lineup was John McCourt (Band Leader and Vocalist), Brian Tunstall (Drums) and Terry Hogarth (Accordion).

Soundette played all over the North East And Scotland playing on average about four times a week.

They played dance music, middle of the road and Country & Western throughout the sixties, seventies and eighties.

John McCourt passed away in 2007 at the age of 82.

The following tribute to John McCourt has been provided by his son (also named John) -

My father was John McCourt - the vocalist with the trio and he was a very close friend of Terry Hogarth (the accordion player). Both lived for the majority of their lives in Maryport and they spent many hours together exploring sheet music and rehearsing different pieces. Sadly, my father died in March 2007 - 3 days after his 82nd birthday. He had suffered badly in his last few years and ended his days in a Care Home following the onset of Alzheimers disease.

Terry I know still lives in the street parallel to my father's former home, is in good health and practices daily I believe. Despite the limited line-up of Soundette, Terry was able to conjure up the sound of an entire group on his own which gave the trio a full and rich sound.

In his prime, my father had a beautiful tenor voice and could have made a fine classical singer with appropriate coaching. However, his great love was the popular song and he work for many years as a Master of Ceremonies in local clubs and developed an extensive repertoire of"standards" and more up-to-date popular songs. He also won song contests regularly and there were many trophies in his house when I undertook the dismal task of clearing it out.

At their peak, Soundette travelled far and wide throughout the North of England and my father maintained a hard-working schedule "on the road" despite holding down a physically demanding factory "day job". At the week-end, he would often not be back from a "gig" until 3 or 4 in the morning, but he could always be relied on to be up at a civilised hour, to tend his garden or do other household DIY.

Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of his career as a popular singer was the fact that, in private and off the stage, my father was a quiet and shy man who kept his thoughts and feelings to himself. However, when he took to the stage he became a different person - a lively and animated performer with a very good grasp of stage craft and how to relate to an audience.