Five Minutes With Heather Small

Heather - Face Microphone.jpg

Interview with Heather Small from

"She was born in Ladbroke Grove, London, in 1965 and after a brief spell fronting the soul band Hot House, joined M People, who went onto sell more than 10 million records.

Hits included Moving On Up, One Night In Heaven and Search For The Hero.

In 2000, Heather Small released her first solo album, Proud, and the title track became the anthem of the 2012 Olympic Games.

Heather, a recent contestant on Strictly Come Dancing, lives in West London with her 11-year-old son.

The Questions: 

If you had to be stuck in a lift with someone, who would it be?

The writer Maya Angelou. I'm a big fan of her books and her whole philosophy on life. She's got such an indomitable spirit – she turned 80 this year – and she's a person who has learnt from life, and even after the rollercoaster of it she's still got optimism and faith, and she's still feisty. It's what I'd like from my life – to live and learn, be wise and to go on without bitterness.

What is your biggest fear?

Failure. It's not in a financial sense or anything like that, it's more of an emotional thing, especially when you put yourself out there and whatever you do will be judged. You have to be able to say 'I did my best, and I'm happy with what I've done'. I don't like to do anything badly.

Do you have any superstitions?

I don't have superstitions as such, but I am a creature of habit. There are a few things I do, so that wherever I am there's continuity and I know it's going to be showtime. Before I go on stage, I always drink ginger and lemon tea, I have my rice cakes in there, and I do my relaxation. I like a certain type of routine, and if that's thrown off, I think maybe it's not going to be a good show.

If you could have only one song on your iPod, what would it be?

Something by Nina Simone. It would be hard to pick just one, as some of her tracks are quite feisty but still very beautiful. She was a very strong, opinionated woman, and she brought that strength and opinion, as well as her vulnerability, to her music.

What's the most expensive thing you've bought, not including property?

I'm not that materialistic, but being a vegan in Stella McCartney's world is quite expensive. She's radical – she's out there trying to use materials that don't harm the environment or any other living thing. Her clothes are one of my indulgences.

What's the best piece of advice you've been given?

Don't look to others, just look to yourself and your own standards.

When was the last time you cried and why?

At my cousin's wedding. She looked very beautiful and she and her partner were so happy, and we were all there as a family to witness it.

What's your indulgence?

It's Organica chocolate bars, I do like those. I also like nice holidays.

Where are you going on holiday?

I've been to Grenada and Bali this year. I'd like my next trip to be to Sri Lanka.

How environmentally friendly are you?

I could be a lot better than I am. My partner is more on it than I am, and he'll run round shaping me up. Because of him I'm better than I would be on my own. I think that the whole plastic bag scenario is a red herring though, there are better things we could be doing.

How many texts do you send in a day?

I don't send that many, but I speak on my mobile phone a lot. I don't mind texting, but I prefer the personal touch.

Who's the most famous person in your mobile?

I don't know any famous people on a day-to-day basis.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

Not to be such a perfectionist – it makes life hard. I'd like to be more relaxed about everything.

What were you doing this time yesterday?

I was at a fund-raising event at BGC on behalf of Barnados. We were on the traders floor and they were raising money for charity, and all the traders were giving up their commission and a percentage of the day's takings from around the world to charity. That was fantastic.

What will you be doing this time tomorrow?

I shall be watching my son play rugby.

Heather Small, Royal Concert Hall, Thursday May 28, 7.30pm, 0115 989 5555."