Heather Small, the voice of M People is Supporting Bananarama at the popular Newmarket Nights, held at Newmarket Racecourses on Friday 9th August before a full summer of festivals.
Tanya caught up with her to talk about her music and busy summer ahead.
You have recently performed at the Isle of Wight festival, how was it?
Yes, I adored it, there were so many people. It was so much fun; with such a good atmosphere it certainly negated the feelings after travelling there on the ferry.
I do a lot of festivals but the Isle of Wight Festival is so current and contemporary.
It’s great to be able to mix in with the bands and the acts. The crowds reacted so well to me and interacted with my songs which were fun.
How did you handle the weather?
It’s British summertime… rain, Wimbledon Tennis has started and you expect rain.
I was born in Britain I have lived here all my life. It’s what you expect. But it was the first night the crowd was really up for it, they were all out and good natured.
It’s a busy summer for you, playing lots of festivals across the country, including Newmarket Racecourses; do you treat this like any other festival?
Festivals are a fun and eclectic mix of people that go to appreciate music. Newmarket is a good crowd too.
All outdoor shows are exciting; they offer freedom, being able to dance which is the added bonus. Even rain never diminishes the crowds; it’s always a good time. I love Performing and seeing and hearing people in the crowds enjoying it whatever the weather. Dancing and singing along to ‘Search for a hero’ it’s always a privilege to perform at every show.
You have so many hit songs, how do you choose what ones to perform?, Will there be any M-People hits?
We play 30 minute sets and I do include M-people hits; you have to give the people what they want. For me, I have a great Live MD and Live band, that mix it up, so it’s always exciting and new for me, it always feels like a new day.
And your hit song Proud has become a soundtrack synonymous for a whole host of special events, how does that make you feel?
The best thing for me is that there are Children singing the song in schools, I find it so humbling. If people think it’s a good influence and a good way to start the school day then great because how life is shaped to us as children is a reflection of how we become as adults. I’m so grateful my song is reaching such an influence.
Miranda Hart made it a staple too on her show Miranda, is that a complement?
It’s fun, she got me involved and I was in the show. It was all in such good humour. I see people in the crowds with pictures of my face on sticks and I find it such a complement.
I grew up on a council estate and wanted to have a signature song and what’s great about Proud is it’s a unifying force in music, it has been used in gay pride, sporting events and school assemblies, whoever we are we should be proud of ourselves, we are all the same.
The remix of Proud has recently done well in the US Billboard Dance Songs Charts
Yes it was in America; as I just said, it keeps going, giving many people reason to endorse it.
It is such a motivational song, back then did you have a feeling with this song that it would ever be this big?
I co-wrote Proud so the words are meaningful to me and it felt exciting, being happy is about what you achieve, and it’s not always about money and social standing. Things that happen, that give us reason to be thankful. It was not about loving a song for me it meant something to me; it’s an honest song, how I feel about things in general, and my psyche to things. When I saw Proud on the Olympics footage in 2012, I saw the song in its own light outside of myself.
It takes me back. It’s still pleasurable. It was quite amazing.
You have just recently become an ambassador for Homeless worldwide how do you get involved with them?
(Heather is one of the artists who features on the charity single ‘He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother’ which was released in February in aid of Homeless Worldwide).
It is about raising awareness. I go to Interviews and have recorded the charity single.
It’s raising awareness about homelessness and interest through music.
It’s understanding how bad it is and not to become accustomed to it. There is so many different reasons for homelessness and vulnerable people, even in the countryside, we just think of homelessness in cities and in shop fronts but there are homeless in the countryside I hadn’t even thought of it. These days a lot of people are living a homeless life attached to the words ‘sofa surfing’.
As a society and whoever becomes Prime Minister, whatever government is in charge, something has to be done, it’s not acceptable in 2019. It’s so provident now, it’s so disturbing. A solution has to be found for better understanding and doing something about helping with housing problems.
After the summer, do you have any other plans?
I will continue with writing and hopefully have a single release by the end of the year.