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Chris Park chats to Beverley Knight

Chris Park chats to Beverley Knight

It’s almost a year since Canal St last spoke to Britain’s own soul diva, Beverley Knight, since then she has released her acclaimed album Soulsville, toured the country and reprised her role in The Bodyguard not once but twice.

Chris Park spoke to Knight as she prepares for another UK tour about the album, the tour and what she does to chill out when she ever gets a break.

Last time we spoke you were just about to release your album, how did that go?

The response was great, I was so pleased with how people responded to it. People seemed to really enjoy the album and that’s all you can ask for, that people enjoy what you’re doing. I was thrilled. It was a brilliant moment for me to make that album and to be in Memphis and then to express it all to an audience who were so receptive, I loved it. Last time I played Manchester the response was crazy which is why I’m going back.

What can fans expect from the new tour?

(Last time) I toured before the album was released and now obviously the album has been out a while so it will be with that in mind. People will, hopefully, know a lot of the material so I will be highlighting some of the moments of Soulsville as well as my back catalogue, the songs that everyone comes to see and hear, the ShouldaWouldaCoulda’s and the Greatest Days and then of course a touch of what I’ve been doing in musical theatre as well.  There’s so much to cram into one show.

Fans should have no excuse not to sing along this time.

I hope people sing along, I really do. I enjoyed so much making that album and touring it last year, people’s faces as they listened and got into it, now they’ll know the songs so hopefully it will be much more of a singalong experience for the crowd as well.

Your last night will be in Salford? Any surprises planned?

I like to do something unexpected on stage, a song people don’t see coming or whatever. There will be a curveball thrown in there which will delight everybody I hope.

What do you have planned after the tour?

I will take a chill for a minute because I have been working all the way through. I haven’t really stopped since 2013, one thing has rolled into the other. 

I had a brief break before coming here to Toronto to reprise The Bodyguard for the third time. I will then start to craft new songs for a new record and also think about what I’d like to do next in the world of theatre, just depends who’s out there and who wants me. 

When we spoke last year it was just before we lost Prince, what did you make of 2016 in this regard?

I thought 2016 was awful, if felt like we, the world, were on the ropes and the Grim Reaper was giving us upper cuts to the left and hooks to the right and we were just getting pummelled with all these people leaving us. It made you think “Who’s next?”. 

It started with David Bowie, I still can’t believe that, one of the most seismic, influential human beings to grace music ever and we lost him. We didn’t even know he was ill. 

Then when we lost Prince in April I was in pieces for a while after that. It seemed just as you picked yourself up, Maurice White went, then Natalie Cole and I was stunned with poor Carrie Fisher and straight after that Debbie Reynolds. Then just to close the year, to give us a real kick in the frigging balls was George Michael.

I don’t feel as though any one of those huge artists has had the chance and space to be mourned and celebrated.

You’re playing in the Toronto version of The Bodyguard, how different were the audiences there?

In UK theatres you’re allowed to go in with your drinks with all the results that happen with this. In Toronto they are a lot more reserved and respectful. They listen to every cough and spit that comes out of your mouth, they are really paying attention and as a result some of the gags that British audiences maybe didn’t catch, Canadian audiences are all over it. But at the end they go mental, it’s almost as though they have saved it all up and they go spare. It’s completely different to the UK.

What do you do in your down time?

I love to read and listen to music, as much as I like making music I love to listen to music. The thing that I’ve been doing here in Toronto that I’ve really gotten into is, finally, I’ve got the space and time to catch up on all these amazing box sets and things which everybody else has gone on about. So when everybody’s talking about Scandal and House of Cards, I was looking at them blankly.  House of Cards is so good, it’s scary because, let’s just say what’s happening in America with the man they’ve got in power, Kevin Spacey and the crew nailed that a while back.

With the turn in the political climate, particularly in America, since we last spoke, what do you think are the challenges facing the LGBT community?

Oh my God. It feels as though every minority is getting a kick in the face with this bloke. It feels as though the barriers are going back up and it’s so hard. 

When you think of vulnerable minorities, transgender minorities for example. That bullshit law that they’ve got in certain states in the South, if you identify as female you can’t use the female toilets. Why? They can’t give a decent reason. “Because we’re haters” how about that for a reason?

It is so hard to think this is going on in 2017 and we’re still up against this rubbish. There seems to be more hatred and it’s coming from the top. There’s that old saying, the fish rots from the head.

Then it trickles into our society but luckily I think there are enough people to fight, if they’re not actively going out and fighting for rights they at least believe in live and let live, leave people alone to live their own lives. There is enough of that mentality to squash these angry, bigoted, hate filled voices which I think do have to be squashed. Free speech is one thing but when you’re throwing abuse at people because of the way they were born, I’ve got no time. 

You have to bang the drum, people who stay silent when minorities are being persecuted in this way end up being complicit. Do I want to be complicit with that? Hell no I don’t.

Beverley Knight will be playing The Lowry Theatre, Salford on 29th June 2017. For more information visit www.quaytickets .com via the link below.

By Chris Park for Canal St Online

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