Heather Small has returned to her first passion – singing
May 30 2009 by Karen Price, Western Mail
After shimmying her way to success on Strictly Come Dancing, Heather Small has returned to her first passion – singing. As she prepares to visit Wales as part of her UK tour, she chats to Karen Price about jazzing up her sound
HEATHER SMALL is full of energy when she answers the phone to me.
“I took my son to school and then I went to the gym and now I’m making sure everything’s ready for a gig I’m doing in Budapest,” she says, giving me a brief run-through of her day so far.
It’s a private gig but the M People star admits she’s feeling a little anxious about it.
“I always get nervous,” she says.
With a wealth of hits under her belt – her distinctive voice has helped the band sell 10 million albums worldwide – she probably doesn’t need to feel that way but it’s obvious that Small thrives on adrenalin, just take her energetic dance performances on Strictly Come Dancing to start with.
This weekend she’s returning to Wales for a solo gig in the Welsh capital and she admits that it’s a place she’s very happy to be.
She’s already performed at the Millennium Stadium as part of the 2008 Grand Slam winning party and her son, James, is often there cheering on Wales in the rugby. The 12-year-old’s dad is Small’s former partner, Wales defence coach Shaun Edwards.
“It’s awesome, it’s got magic,” says Small of the Stadium.
“My son loves the rugby and coming to Cardiff to watch Wales. It’s really impressive hearing the Welsh fans singing.”
Tomorrow the singer will be at the much smaller St David’s Hall but she’s looking forward to the gig, for which she will be joined by the Snake Davis Band.
They performed with the soul star at the famous Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in London last October when Small revealed her more jazzy side.
Now she will also be injecting some jazz into her Cardiff gig and a gig in Llandudno on Monday, which are part of her current UK tour.
But there will still be the old favourites too, like Moving On Up and Search For The Hero.
“I will be doing an amalgamation of what I think charts my musical journey,” she says.
“There will be things I really like, things that inspire me – from jazz, to blues, to pop. I’ve handpicked every song.”
Small has spent months pulling her repertoire together.
“I started listening to songs I really like and wrote down what I thought would make a good set.”
Small is delighted to be reunited with the Snake Davis Band. “They are people I feel very comfortable with,” she admits.
“If it’s not broken don’t fix it. We have a lovely rapport on stage and we have such a great time. It’s always interesting, always fun and never boring.”
With around 16 dates in her diary, Small admits that the tour is “quite big for me”.
But when we speak she clearly can’t wait to get back on the road.
“Once you get into the swing of it, it never leaves your blood,” she says of touring. “I’ve not toured as much recently as I’ve been at home with my son but he is older now and this isn’t a huge tour. I’m still going to be able to get home as much as possible, so it’s the best of both worlds.”
While Small is touring there won’t be much time for her to enjoy her latest passion – for dance.
The singer was among the contestants in the last series of the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing and she admits that, despite the nerves, she enjoyed her time on the show, which was won by Tom Chambers.
“I had a great time. Having to dance live to the nation takes you out of your comfort zone but I would still do it. My mother is a huge fan (of the series) and we still like to please our mums,” she laughs.
“The judges were harsh but I had real fun.”
Among those cheering her on was her friend Katherine Jenkins.
“She’s a sweet girl. We did some work in Cyprus together for the Forces. We had a giggle together.”
Small’s still in touch with many other contestants, including swimmer Mark Foster, and she’s now a member of a dance school run by Karen Hardy, one of Strictly’s professional dancers.
“I’ve not been because I’m busy but I will return,” she promises. “I love dance and learning a new skill.”
As far as her son is concerned, he appears to be taking after his dad with a passion for sport, although he also has a musical side.
“He is more of a sportsman but he loves playing the guitar,” says his proud mum. “He’s got a good teacher who’s inspired him and I’ve acquired some Jimi Hendrix T-shirts for him.”
Heather Small is at St David’s Hall, Cardiff, tomorrow and at Venue Cymru, Llandudno, on Monday