Known as the ‘Voice of M People’, Heather Small has built an incredible career in the music industry over the past 29 years. From starting out in 1987 as a member of Hot House, to singing with M People, to her stellar solo career, there seems to be no stopping her.
Her stage presence is infectively passionate and energetic, which combined with distinctively powerful vocals makes for a stunning performance. Her pure zest for life is apparent every moment that she’s on stage. Performing all her classic hits, including ‘Proud’, ‘Moving On Up’ and ‘One Night in Heaven’, she had the entirety of Gibraltar Music Festival singing and dancing alongside her.
GIGsoup’s Bethan Brace was lucky enough to catch up with Heather following her incredible performance…
Firstly, I’d just like to say thank you for having a chat with me today!
I’m more than happy to speak to you, it’s always great to have the chance to meet new people!
So is it your first time here in Gibraltar?
Gibraltar? Yeah, It’s my first time. I’ve had a wonderful time so far. Everyone’s been so warm and kind since I arrived yesterday. The festival has an incredible line-up over the two days so it’s brilliant to be involved in that. That’s what I love about festivals. It’s an eclectic mix of music, and everyone’s at the top of their game. People are here because they love live music, and every performer is here because they love to perform. It doesn’t get much better than that.
I believe that you’ve played with another of tonight’s acts (Stereophonics) before at the Millennium Stadium. How do you feel about being on the same bill again?
That feels like such a long time ago! I haven’t seen them since so I should definitely try to catch some of their set. They’re brilliant live and it would be interesting to see if they’re still the same as I remember them.
It’s been a while since you released any new material, do you have any new projects on the horizon?
I’m working on some stuff, and hopefully I’ll have it down at some point next year, but I’ll definitely be touring and performing any new material live. I just love to perform live. Love it love it love it!
It always makes for a better gig for everyone if the artist is clearly enjoying the music as much as the musician doesn’t it!
Oh absolutely! You know it’s not about the money, it’s about enjoying what you do. I used to go out and sing to an audience that was my age, and now I sing to an audience that is still partly my age, but also made up of so many more different people. Sometimes people are bringing their sons and daughters, and it’s incredible to think that different generations can all enjoy my music, and sing along to every word. It’s heart-warming. It will probably make me sound all fuddy-duddy, but I love seeing the family bonding and intergenerational gaps being bridged that music can bring about. There aren’t many things, especially with teenagers, that you can share, and music is one of those things that can speak to everyone.
You take part in a lot of charity work, is that again because you love to perform?
You know, I sing, and if I can raise funds doing what I do, then why not? Everyone as to do what they can to do their bit. Some people have lots and lots of money and can use that to help to make a difference. Some people may only be able to give a pound, but that may be all their money in the world. It’s not measured in how much you give. It’s all about willingness to give without expecting anything in return.
I only have one more question to ask you: what sort of music do you enjoy listening to?
My favourite artist is Nina Simone – I like her passion, I like her voice, she’s enigmatic and a definite one-off. I’ve always been interested in those sorts of people: Nat King Cole, Whitney, Prince… The people that you listen to and know that it can only be them. Mostly just people who are slightly unusual, who have that funky, raw, whole-hearted spirit and passion. Whatever it is, from rock to pop to jazz to soul, once someone brings that passion, that’s what makes incredible music.
This Heather Small article was written by Bethan Brace, a GIGsoup contributor