Gwyn Jay Allen
Loughborough, United Kingdom
Actor, Architect, Interior decorator, Jazz musician
Gwyn Jay Allen is a British jazz musician and actor.
He was born in Loughborough to Sierra Leonese immigrants, but lived for 18 years in Freetown before moving back to England. Early in his career he played the guitar and sang at Tube stations. In 1992 he landed a job at the London Hilton on Park Lane, playing percussion and singing backing vocals. In 1997 he was one of the finalists on the ITV talent show Stars in Their Eyes, where he impersonated Louis Armstrong singing We Have All the Time in the World. Allen has toured with the groups The Sound of the Platters and The Jazz Quarterbacks. He has also played the part of Cab Calloway in a 1996/1997 West End production of the musical The Blues Brothers which also toured the UK. In 1999, during a visit to Sierra Leone, he was held hostage for one day by one of the warring parts in a Sierra Leone civil war. Allen was recommended to fellow Britons Basement Jaxx by a recording studio he had worked for, which led to recording several songs with them, live performances and eventually a solo single released in 2000 through Basement Jaxx's label, Atlantic Jaxx. In 2002 he was the opening act for American gospel singer Kirk Franklin at a concert Franklin held at Royal Albert Hall. Allen has also produced a live recording CD together with his band called I Love Louis. The recording session took place at the Dorchester Hotel in London, where his band had played for many years. Allen has also written a musical together with Clarke Peters called Satchmo, choreographed and played the lead in Strangers, and produced and co-written Less Stife More Life. He has worked as a session vocalist and percussionist for Sony Music, Virgin Records and Real World Music. As a television actor he has been on EastEnders, The Bill, Men Behaving Badly and Casualty. Currently he combines his day-time job as an interior decorator and architect with occasional performances. Allen is married and has two sons.