An award-winning York composer has released his debut album in memory of his mother - and in aid of World Child Cancer.

Billy Marrows, a composer and jazz musician from York - who is currently based in London - has recently released his first album ‘Penelope’ as a homage to his late mother who passed away from pancreatic cancer.

The idea for an album was born during Easter of 2023, shortly after hi mum Penny’s diagnosis, when Billy, his girlfriend, and several family members got together to play music and saw how much she enjoyed it.

The project was dreamt-up in mid-April with the recording taking place a mere month and a half later at the end of June, giving Billy a month and a half to write, record, and organise the album alongside his other projects and his work as a music teacher.

York Press:

The album features Billy’s new chamber jazz group, Grande Familia, in varying forms alongside intimate solo guitar vignettes.

The group is formed with a mixture of musicians that Billy has worked with on previous projects and family members – one of whom, his cousin’s niece, is only 16 years old and recorded the project around sitting her GCSEs.

Originally intended as a surprise, Penny was able to hear six of the tracks before she passed away in August 2023 with Billy recording the remaining four tracks independently as solo guitar pieces.

Billy said: “In a way, it’s all about my mum and everything to do with that time but also, in a sense, something I’m able to throw myself into.

"It gave me a real purpose and sometimes it’s quite helpful to have that. It felt very motivational because one, it’s for charity, and two, it’s for my mum.

"I’m really happy with how the music came out, but now that it’s out, there’s still more to do.”


The decision to fundraise for World Child Cancer was one Billy made shortly after his mother's death.

During her treatment, Penny repeatedly expressed her gratitude for the local NHS services and how lucky she felt to receive care that people in other countries may not have the same access to.

With recovery rates from cancer being significantly higher in this country than they are in developing nations, World Child Cancer seeks to provide better treatment to those in need and hopefully lessen the gap.

According to Billy, the charity is incredibly grateful for the support that it has received through sales of Penelope and several members of the team will be attending the album’s launch in London’s Pizza Express Jazz Club Soho on May 13.

York Press:

Billy said: “This is such a special process and it’s connected me to lots of different people, which as an artist is something you hope for, but it’s special because with my project it has such a narrative around it.

"Either they’re people who have something to do with my mum or strangers who are touched by that. I’ve had a few people buy it who have recently lost someone and have really connected with the music.”

Penelope also had a hand in the album artwork, with Billy and his dad selecting an old painting that she had created prior to becoming ill as they loved its vibrancy.

The full album is available to stream here or can be purchased through Bandcamp with all proceeds going to help World Child Cancer. To anyone looking to make their own donations, Billy also has a JustGiving page.