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Heather Small
Heather Small speaks exclusively to Pride Of Manchester ahead of her 2003 UK solo tour
9th June 2003

Despite being the lead vocalist of Manchester legends M People, Heather Small was actually born and raised on a West London council estate. It was only after a chance meeting with Hacienda DJ Mike Pickering that she moved up to Manchester to front the group that would go and sell over 10 million records worldwide.

In 2000 Heather Small released her debut solo album, 'Proud', a critically acclaimed collection of self-penned soul and gospel anthems. She also later collaborated with Tom Jones on the single 'You Need Love Like I Do'.

To reinforce her status as an adopted Mancunian, Heather returned to Manchester to close the 2002 Commonwealth Games, singing the track 'Proud' in front of millions of television viewers worldwide.

Heather spoke exclusively to Pride Of Manchester ahead of her short solo tour in June 2003 when she will be showcasing her new material as well as performing a mix of her favorite jazz and soul standards at Manchester's Bridgewater Hall as well as York, Cambridge and London. This will be followed by further shows with the Snake Davis Band at the Southport Theatre and the Soho Palace Theatre.

Pride Of Manchester: Our website celebrates everybody and everything to come out of our wonderful city. As you're not originally from Manchester, are you surprised at how the city 'adopted' you?
  Heather Small

Heather Small: "I am from London and I am honoured at the response I get any time I come to Manchester. It will always be like playing a home audience."

Is it true you were awarded the freedom of the city of Manchester?
"Yes, it is true I have the freedom of the city"

You're playing The Bridgewater Hall on June 16th. Do you get back to Manchester often?

"I come to Manchester on average once or twice a month as I have friends and family who live in the area."
Heather Small

We've had loads of e-mails asking if you plan to extend your tour outside the UK, in particular to the Far East, Australia, and Europe. Is this something you've thought about?

"I am concentrating on writing at the moment so I have no plans for shows outside of the country"
I believe you used to get stage fright before shows. Does this get worse now you're touring as a solo artist?
"I suffer with nerves badly before any show, with the group or solo performances, it always feels like my first show or maybe my last show so I always want it to be the best show"
You've been quick to announce that your new solo tour and album does not spell the end for the mighty M People. Is there anything planned with Mike and the boys?
"We are deciding what we want to do, nothing really is planned at the moment but we are always writing."
A lot of your lyrics, both with M People and also as a solo artist are inspirational, particularly sending anti-drug messages. Is there any song you have written that you are really proud of? (no pun intended).
"I am just trying to write and perform songs that mean something to me personally whether that is with the band or on my own. So far I am proud of all the songs because they are realto me and still feel good to sing"
Whilst you were born in England, where are your parents from?   Heather Small
"My parents are from the Caribbean, Barbados."

Did this make you even more proud to be singing at The Commonwealth Games closing ceremony?

"Singing at the Commomwealth Games was great because there was such a feeling of warmth in the stadium."

You've played some huge venues, including the Commonwealth Games closing ceremony and Old Trafford football stadium. Looking back, which one still gives you the biggest buzz now?

"Playing at Old Trafford in the 90's was brilliant because it was so huge. I was very nervous but the feelings on the night were immeasurable, I felt I could fly."
We know you're into a lot of soul/gospel singers from the 60's onwards, but what kind of contemporary artists are you into?
"I am not very current really but I like Big Brovas, Craig David, Ms Dynamite, Missy Eliott and Mary J Blige."
Heather Small

Who would you really like to work/duet with in the future? Have you thought about singing alongside Russell Watson for example?

"Missy Eliott and Ray Charles. Missy Eliott because she is very creative and excellent at what she does. Ray Charles because of his talent and that voice."
Is it right you support Oldham Athletic?
"No, totally incorrect, my son would have a fit!"
Are you personally interested in the Internet, especially as you've just launched your own official website?
"The Internet is a quick and efficient means of communication so if it is anything to do with business then it is fine. I still love my telephone and the spoken word, they will always be my favoured means of communication."
You're obviously a person who comes across as being genuinely more interested in 'touching people' with your music than trying to make loads of money. Have you set your self any expectations for your forthcoming material?
"To be as honest as I can, which is not always as easy as it should be. To do everything with all my heart and do anything it takes to improve my vocal and songwriting ability."
Thanks Heather for taking time out to talk to us totally free of charge, we really owe you one, and we'll be there to cheer you on in Manchester!
Pride Of Manchester would especially like to thank Peter Noble at Heather's PR company for arranging the interview.
This interview is 2003 Pride Of Manchester & Heather Small

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