Heather Small Pre-Tour Interviews

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Two Heather Small interviews from local on-line websites:

Interview 1: Taken from the Elmbridge Guardian

M People's Heather is Moving on Up
By Graham Moody  

Are you Moving on Up? Did you ever find the hero inside yourself? What have you done today to make you feel Proud? All questions I am sure M People's uniquely voiced Heather Small has heard a million times before. 

With that it mind, and fearing a very quick loss of signal at her end, I only had enough courage to ask the last one... 

"Haha," was the joyous response I got as her booming laugh, present so many times throughout the interview, came back down the line at me before she added without a hint of irritation: "I woke up at 6am to walk my son to the school bus stop and make sure his day started off well." 

Having risen to fame with M People in the mid-90s, Small is more commonly associated these days with inspirational anthem Proud, her first solo single back in 2000. 

Featured in everything from the Olympics bid to the London Marathon and even Oprah, it seems the 44-year-old is always being called on to perform it at function after function, not that that bothers her. 

"I don't get tired of it," she said. 

"It has done what I wanted it to do and you can't then say you hate it because it's been so successful." 

"I wasn't expecting it and it's taken on a life of it's own now." 

"I always wanted to have a single where you stand on stage and sing the first few words and everybody applauds you before you have done anything." 

Heather will go through the M People songs - you'd be surprised by how many you know - and her solo singles accompanied by saxophonist Snake Davis and his band, and she's predicting a few surprises too having showcased the set at the Indigo2 in March. 

"It's going to be all the songs I like to sing," she said. 

"There will be blues, jazz, pop and dance, all the things I really enjoy singing and things my voice suits." 

"I'm excited about the tour but I've always suffered from nerves."

"You never want to drop down a level as I want people who have come and seen me a few times over the years to enjoy it as much as they did the first time." 

"I'm always thinking, 'gosh do you like it?' I'm not up there thinking 'I am so great', I'm thinking 'are you enjoying it?' and that's the right way to be." 

As for M People, Small admits it's unlikely they will ever release anything again. 

"I don't think so but you can never say never," she said. 

"We had a great time and it was a great run but my ambition has always been to sing the best songs I can and that hasn't always involved recording." 

"Getting in front of an audience will always be my forte. There's a feeling you get live that you have to create for yourself in a studio and sometimes you struggle." 

Most recently Small was on our TV screens in Strictly Come Dancing, but she insists she wont be bringing out any polka's or waltzes at Fairfield Halls. 

"I will not be dancing," she answers with that unique laugh. 

"I think I will stick to the singing." 

Heather Small and Snake Davis Band, Fairfield Halls, May 19, 8pm. Call 020 8688 9291 or visit fairfield.co.uk. 

Interview 2: Taken from This Is Croydon

"What have you done today to make you feel proud?" asks Heather Small's most famous solo hit.

This has become the maxim she lives her life by, but it's also inspired everything from sports teams to cruise liners since it was released in 2000.

The singer with the big voice and even bigger hair was part of one of the country's most famous bands of the 90s, M People.

With hits like Search For The Hero, Sight For Sore Eyes and Moving On Up, M People had huge success over five albums with Small's distinctive voice making each song instantly recognisable.
They've recently played a few gigs in European cities and still make one off appearances, but Small says it's unlikely they'll reform.

"Sometimes you think about it, but in the cold light of day I always think 'no, we did what we did and we'll leave it at that'."

"But it was an amazing thing to have been part of, and to go out on stage, sing one note and have the audience know the song and sing it back is a lovely feeling."

Despite these great memories and still being good friends with her bandmates, Small says at the moment she's enjoying being a solo artist.

Her first of two solo albums, Proud, was released in 2000 and included the Tom Jones duet You Need Love Like I Do.

She's now on her latest solo tour which visits Fairfield this week.

"Live is live so I always love performing, but the thing I prefer about being on my own is that I'm not just singing M People songs."

"I can do different songs by different artists such as Abba and Elkie Brooks."

"I performed at the Indig02 recently and the venue was lovely - modern, beautiful and made for purpose."

"Really I'm just happy people come to see me! And it's nice to go to places like Croydon where people don't have to trek all the way into London."

Small also performed at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Cafe last year as a solo artist, and at the Cardiff Millennium Stadium to celebrate Wales' success at the 2008 Grand Slam.

Rugby and Heather Small? It's not as unlikely a combination as you might at first think.

Proud, from the album by the same name, has become Small's signature solo tune and has been adopted by the Rugby World Cup 2003, the VE Day 60th anniversary celebrations and the launch of the Queen Mary 2 cruise ship.

Most recently, the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic committee have taken on Proud as their theme song.

"The song has taken me to so many different places, from schools to sports grounds to churches, so it symbolises music as a unifying force."

"For me, I wanted to write a song that I could sing wholeheartedly - if you have a modicum of success you have to be careful it doesn't become about the trappings of fame, and that you're still bringing something to the table."

"But Proud has grown out of my hands now and when I saw the video that had been put together for the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics it was very emotional. To be chosen for that theme song is so fantastic."

Even those too young to remember M People's hits will know Small from her recent stint on the BBC celebrity dancing contest Strictly Come Dancing.

Along with professional dance partner Brian Fortuna, she stayed until a very respectable eighth week before being voted off the show by viewers.

"My family are huge fans and I love to dance, so even though I said no at first I had to do it."

"It was hilarious! I had such fun with Brian and we're friends for life."

"I wasn't in it to win it, but even if I was I think the judges had other ideas!"

Small almost found herself up in front of notoriously tough judge Arlene Philips once before while she was still at school.

"I was very, very shy and my teacher said I was good at dancing so I should audition for Arlene Philips - I couldn't go because I was just too nervous."

She may be famous for her huge, confident voice, but Small says she still suffers from nerves.

"I'm always a bit nervous because I always want to do my best."

"With the first band I auditioned for you can hear the paper I was holding rattling on the audition tape."

"When I see young people auditioning on TV programmes now I think 'Oh my goodness'."

Small has an 11-year-old son who she's encouraging to be more outgoing.

"You try to encourage them not to be shy when you are because if you don't put yourself forward, people think you're not going to deliver."

"It's the people who talk themselves up who get the gig, even if they're not the best."

Once her tour is over Small is looking forward to a relaxing holiday with her son.

She's also performing at Gay Pride in London this summer.

"I'll be doing lots of M People stuff there. I always have fun at Pride because the audience like my voice and it's just a really fun atmosphere."

Heather Small is at Fairfield on Tuesday, May 19 at 8pm.

Tickets - 020 8688 9291.