I was born in Greymouth on the remote West Coast of the South Island of NZ. Our family had little resources or opportunity, but I grew up in an era where people would gather around the piano and sing together. From when I was very young I played piano while everybody sang along or played tea chest basses, eggbeaters, combs, violins, even an old saxophone.
I had an Auntie who played honky tonk style, and heard Winifred Atwell along with early rock n roll on our old Columbus Radio in the kitchen.
Playing piano from the moment I could reach the keys, and being spurred on by my older sister and brother who both played, I studied classical very seriously, becoming a star student, passing all my grades with distinction and gaining a very prestigious place (one of 4 students from the whole of NZ) to study a 5 year classical piano degree at Auckland University.
Although I loved classical music, by the end of the degree I wasn’t happy to be a concert pianist or, more likely, a piano teacher.
So I cut off my hair, and moved to Wellington where I experimented with different styles of music, working in an independent theatre group and then rock bands.
In 1980 my band, “Coup D’Etat” had a No. 1 hit with the song “Doctor I Like Your Medicine”, after which I moved across the Tasman to Sydney, playing in bands and piano bars as well as writing music for films.
It was some years later before I found my own voice, as a boogie piano player and songwriter.
So here I am, still resident in Sydney, but constantly touring to play festivals, concerts and shows around the world, (even a recent trip to China), and I am grateful for the success and musical path I have found.
I am still enormously passionate about music and have so much more to play, sing and write!
One woman, a piano and a whole lot of talent.
3 Weeks Edinburgh
From boogie woogie to ragtime the air pulsates with the magical rhythms she produces….a forceful presence and a huge performance energy.
ChCh Star NZ
One of the best pianists of our time, Preston masters the piano like a maestro juggling the keys. Her voice is suave and sensual, with finesse and sensibility.
Australia’s finest female blues talent.
Drum Media Sydney
This New Zealander is a discovery for friends of excellent boogie based music.
Blues News Germany
Jan Preston is a crusader of the keys…she carries the torch for the piano culture.
She sings with a delivery which speaks of empowerment and hope….she’s got the blues in her heart, mardi gras in her fingers, and a Trans-Tasman attitude in her songs.
Rhythms Magazine Australia
At the piano she is queen.
ChCh Press NZ
Technically strong, full of character, dripping with life.
American Blues Review