number 25 in the history of dance music

The Guardian & Observer have compiled a list of 50 key events in the history of dance music as part of their 2011 music season.

They have put M People at number 25 for winning the Mercury Music Prize (13th September 1994).

After Primal Scream's Screamadelica win in 1992 and Suede's triumph in 1993, the Mercury prize threw up one of its many curveballs in its third year. The judges decided against Britpop favourites Blur (Parklife) and Pulp (His 'n' Hers), Paul Weller's acclaimed Wild Wood and the Prodigy's edgy Music for the Jilted Generation in favour of M People, the pop-dance act formed by ex-Haienda DJ Mike Pickering, and their second album Elegant Slumming, packed with chart-friendly hits such as One Night in Heaven and Moving on Up.

music giants - it's a puppet!

Taken from the Manchester Evening News:

A host of larger-than-life music icons will star in this weekend’s Manchester Day parade – thanks to the hard work of creative youngsters.

Giant puppets of Morrissey, M People singer Heather Small and a two-headed Noel and Liam Gallagher will take part in the celebrations on Sunday.

They’ve been made by a group of 25 seven to 19-year-olds from across east Manchester – with help from housing association Eastlands Homes.

Bridget Halliday, the group’s youth involvement officer, said: “They’ve really enjoyed the workshops and are looking forwarding to representing their community in the parade.”

Some 1,600 people are preparing to take part in the parade with more than 50,000 people expected to come to the city centre to enjoy the carnival atmosphere.

Organisers say last year’s parade was an overwhelming success and generated more than 4m for the economy.

Council chiefs are hoping the turnout will be even better for this year’s ‘voyage of discovery’ themed event.

Sport, literature, medicine, music and diversity are among the sections of the parade which will honour some of Manchester’s greatest achievements.

Schoolchildren, community groups, charities, sports clubs and dancers are all taking part.

Participants have been working with professional artists and parade producers Walk the Plank at a workshop in Castlefield where the floats are now lined up ready for the big day.

Highlights are set to include a giant model of fantasy hero Gulliver, a Manchester galleon inspired by the city’s coat of arms and a contingent of mythical beasts including a rubbish-eating monster.

The parade leaves Liverpool Road in Castlefield at 2pm. It will travel along Deansgate, St Mary’s Gate, Church Street, through Albert Square and along Mount Street and Peter Street.

m people singer heather small in marbella

Heather+Small (2).png

She has sold over 10 million records, performed in front of royalty and contributed to London’s successful bid to stage the 2012 Olympics and now Heather Small is bringing her magic touch to the Costa del Sol, with two intimate shows at Marbella’s Polo House restaurant next week.

The former M People singer is no stranger to Spain having had a number of holidays here, with one trip in particular, holding special memories.

“I’ve got a soft spot for Spain because I found out I was pregnant just before I went on holiday there, so I suppose you could say it was my son’s first holiday,” the 46-year-old Londoner told the Olive Press.

“He’s learning Spanish now and really enjoying it and he’s a massive sports fan so we’ve been to see Real Madrid play, which was fantastic,” she added.

Small will return to Spain again this summer with friends in Ibiza, but relaxation won’t necessarily be on the agenda.

“Some people like to relax on holiday but I love being active and going to the gym, which is probably a good thing with all that wonderful Spanish food,” she says with a hearty laugh.

“I went to Mallorca for New Year once and I remember having lots of fantastic tapas, with vegetable-based dishes and of course the Spanish love their meat.”

Small recently performed in Washington to an audience including Prince Charles, who she describes as being ‘very complimentary’, and is now setting her sights on the Polo House show.

“I’m really looking forward to it,” she enthused. “It will be quite an intimate show which is nice because you get a better feel for the nuances of the crowd.

“But regardless of whether it is a big or small crowd you have to have a passion for it, and performing will always make me happy.”

Heather is performing June 7th & 8th.

Tickets from 100 euros including dinner.

Telephone: +34 952 900 380

E-mail: contact@polohouse.net

euro weekly news interview

Known for the soulful voice behind 1990s' pop sensation the 'M People', Heather Small is visiting Spain for a concert in Marbella next month. She tells EWNreporter Nicole Hallett about stage fright and her favourite dance as a contestant in 2008 Strictly Come Dancing.

Born and raised on a West London council estate, Heather Small joined her first group, Hot House, as a teenager in 1987. She later moved to Manchester after a chance meeting with Hacienda DJ Mike Pickering and shot to fame in the 1990s as the lead vocalist of M People with hit songs including ‘One Night in Heaven’, ‘Search for the Hero’, and ‘Moving on Up’.

In 2000, she released her debut solo album ‘Proud’, a critically acclaimed collection of self-penned soul and gospel anthems, followed by her second album ‘Close to a Miracle’ in 2006. Heather has visited Spain on several occasions:

“I have been to Barcelona and done the Gaudi thing; I took my son to see the big games in Madrid, La Manga, and I spent New Year’s Eve 2010 in Palma de Mallorca with my son.

We stayed in the old part, which I loved and we spent New Year’s Day walking around the harbour. I love looking at the water and the boats. I do not like actually going in the water, but the water from a distance is very nice.”

After decades in the spotlight, Heather admits she still gets stage fright:

“It is terrible. I know that the best thing for me to do is to know my steps and to know what I am doing inside out. To get on that stage and do well I have to be confident that I know my song well.

As the years go by I have realised that what an audience will forgive is a bad note; but that ain’t gonna happen. What they want is 100 per cent commitment.

They want you to go for it and I have always gone for it, you know, and with experience you learn how to do that night after night without damaging your voice. You look after yourself.

I actually have this little ritual I do to learn my songs. I am a bit superstitious ... I have this really old Walkman where the back has fallen off. I have to cover the backwith paper. When I go to the gym people look at me like they are thinking "that poor girl, she cannot even afford an iPhone."

I do have an iPhone, my son puts stuff on there for me, but I just feel more comfortable doing it the old way. When at home I just put my CD on.

I drink herbal tea before going on stage. I do breathing techniques and relaxation."

But, once on stage, her stage fright disappears: "I love it", Heather says.

"When you get out there and you say the first few words and the sound is good, especially when you go out there with a band, it's amazing.

There is no experience like it. It is well documented that I do not smoke, drink or do drugs. I understand the life you lead as a musician, the highs are so high and then you come off the road it is hard to come down from touring.

I can understand how sometimes people can get into bad habits, but I have got a really solid family."

When asked which of her songs contain the most important message to her personally she is quick to answer:

"'Proud', because I wrote it to myself. I have been able to put a roof over my head and I have been happy through singing. For me that is success.

People think you can just measure it from what is in your bank account. I do not want to be known as a rich woman, but as a singer.”

She admits she has always admired Gladys Knight, Mavis Stapels, and Nina Simone.

“I like heartfelt singers that have that element of something...”

Heather was a contestant in the British television show Strictly Come Dancing in 2008.

“The dancing and the training were absolutely wonderful. Getting up in front of the judges and being on TV was nerve-racking", she recalls.

“I am glad I did it because I met some people who are now friends for life.

The waltz was my favourite dance. I didn’t have a least favourite but the judges might have done!” Heather laughs.

an intimate evening in marbella

Located on Marbella's famous Golden Mile, Polo House is to present An Intimate Evening with Heather Small.

The live performances, with songs from the greatest hits of M People, is taking place on the 7th and 8th of June 2011. The evenings, which includes a fabulous 5 course menu and show, costs 140 euros (100 euros with restricted view). Please note that drinks are not included in the price.

For bookings and more information on the Heather Small performance and dinner:

Telephone: +34 952 900 380

E-mail: contact@polohouse.net

world record confirmed!

The world record for the most backing dancers has been confirmed! The Pro-Excel dance troupe danced as Heather Small performed at the St George's Dayrugby match.

Details from the Guinness World Records website:

Who: Pro-Excel (UK)

Where: United Kingdom

When: April 23, 2011

Details: The most backing dancers to a singer was achieved by 546 participants who performed a routine for the singer Heather Small at an event organised by Pro-Excel (UK) at Twickenham Stadium, Twickenham, UK, on 23 April 2011.

The record attempt took place as part of the celebrations for the London Wasps rugby team's annual St George's Day game, in support of Help for Heroes. Pupils from 10 different schools were taught and rehearsed the routine under the supervision of a professional choreographer and performed the routine together on the day in front of an audience of over 60,000 rugby fans. The children performed a rotuine to 2 of Heather Small's songs 'Proud' and 'Search for the Hero', which lasted for 7 minutes 48 seconds in total.