Heather Small On Performing, “You Want To Feel That Joy”
Heather Small has spoken to The Guardian about avoiding the rock’n’roll lifestyle at the height of M People’s fame and the joy she has found in her solo career. The interview came ahead of her new album, Colour My Life, which will be available on 5 August and can pre-ordered here.
Despite her former band M People’s huge success, Small was never swayed by the temptations of life on the road, conscious that the party lifestyle might affect her performances, “Mostly I thought: ‘I’m not on holiday. People have paid hard-earned money,’ and this is always my ethos. When the band pick up their instruments, if they’re feeling a bit fuzzy-headed you can’t always tell, but you can tell when a voice is tired, and there’s no hiding.”
Discussing her solo career, Heather reflected that her stubbornness has been a virtue, “I’ve never really done things for the money, so it’s quite hard for somebody, because of the character that I am, to sway me in any way,
Having one of the most distinctive voices in British pop music has its advantages, Small remembered the first time she was recognised – by the local binmen, “They all started singing Moving on Up. “I felt like I’d arrived. It was brilliant. It was just so warm, and if the dustmen want to sing my songs I feel honoured.”
When asked if she ever tires of singing her huge solo hit, Proud, Heather was adamant, “Absolutely not. Hearing the reaction from a crowd to Proud brings out the joy because I see how much it means to people. This song means so much to me, and that I’ve been able to translate that feeling, and people have made it their own, is joyous. How could you not give it your best? For some people, it’s the first time they’ve heard me sing. Others have heard me sing it lots of times, but they’re still waiting for that feeling, that connection. I’m looking for that connection as well.” It’s why she sings, she says. “You want to feel that love; you want to feel that joy. If you release something, if you put it out there, you’re looking for some kind of approval; you’re looking for people to be your tribe.”