Thursday, 29 January 2009 interview

Interview: Heather Small

By Simon Hayes on January 29, 2009
aa-jan29-heather.jpgShe's a little lady with a big voice and singer Heather Small is proud of the impact her most famous song has made on the public.

The former M People vocalist had her hit track Proud adopted as an anthem by the organisers of the London Olympics back in 2005 and since then it has taken on a life of its own.

"It's just grown legs and run off, that song," she laughed. "It was the first song I wrote outside M People so it is lovely that people like it so much. I'd wanted to try something new after enjoying so much success with M People so it was important to me."

Heather would relish the chance to sing Proud at the 2012 Games, although she is not counting on it.

"I'll do it if I'm asked but people might be sick of it by then," she said.
"I'm really pleased the Olympics is coming to London and hopefully the economic situation will be a lot better by then. National pride and endeavour are always worth it. Sport and music are things that help people bond together.
"Also anything which promotes health should be taken seriously and this is a great opportunity, especially considering all the issues about obesity being talked about now. If you are aware of your body and its functions you are less likely to abuse it and sport is a very important way of raising that awareness."
Of more immediate concern to Heather is the solo tour she is about to undertake which will see her perform at the Indigo2 in March. She admitted she is keen to hit the road.

She said: "I'm loooking forward to the tour. People have seen me on TV a lot recently singing Proud but this is a chance to get out there and show people what else I can do.

"I can experiment a lot more on stage and I think people will be surprised by the variety of the show. It's an amalgamation of M People songs, new songs that are more bluesy and songs by people who I really admire, which will surprise people.

"I always try to surprise people. I sang the Abba song Fernando at some shows and it went down really well so there will be one or two surprises in there."
Despite huge success with M People, shifting over 10million albums and racking up a string of Top 40 hits, Heather revealed she, surprisingly, suffers from stagefright.

"I have always suffered from it," she said. "I work hard to keep it under control but it comes from having high expectations of yourself. I know I can sing but you always want to make sure the audience go away thinking you could have done better.
"I want to live up to their expectations."
Heather's most recent brush with fame came with her appearance in the latest series of Strictly Come Dancing, although she originally turned it down.
"I did turn them down but my mum and my sister persuaded me to change my mind," she said. "My mum is a huge fan of the show and she said I'd regret not doing it.

"She was right, of course, and it was great fun to do. Everyone enjoyed doing it, plus I thought it might help me with my stage fright.
"Having to learn a new dance in just a few days every week is daunting. The public were very kind but the judges were less so.
"I think they forgot we don't dance for a living so they are looking for perfection, but one person's perfection is not always somebody else's."
Heather did not make it to the final but has vowed to carry on dancing, although she claimed the show was not the most difficult thing she has done.
She said: "The hardest thing has been motherhood. It puts everything else into perspective. I just count my blessings that I'm lucky enough to be able to spend time with my 11-year-old son."
Heather Small plays the Indigo2 on Thursday, March 19.

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