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Gabrielle: 20 years and still rising

DREAMS CAN COME TRUE: Gabrielle is celebrating 20 years in the music industry

IT’S NOT often you get to speak to a multi-platinum selling artist and feel struck by their humility. But that was exactly the case when speaking to Gabrielle.

The British songstress, best known for her 1993 number one single Dreams, is marking 20 years in the music industry with a new album called Now and Always: 20 Years of Dreaming. Having taken a five-year hiatus from the industry since her last release to focus on being a mum, the 43-year-old is back with a new passion for music and a newfound confidence.

The husky-voiced singer, who famously donned an eye patch at the start of her career, admitted that it took years to build her self-belief and says she is finally embracing her unique voice.

“I began my career with an eye patch but not having a huge voice,” says the Hackney-born star, who wore an eye patch to cover a lazy eyelid on her right eye. “For years, I was very aware that my voice wasn’t big, like Mica Paris or Beverley Knight and I never really acknowledged what I had.

“Over the years, I’ve embraced who I am and where I’m going. You’ve got to have some belief at the end of the day and my belief developed over a long period of time. I’m not the best on the block, but I love the fact that it’s my rawness that makes me stand out.”

Considering what she would do differently if she could go back in time, the star says:

“My manager always said to me ‘don’t wish away what you’re not prepared to lose,’ so if I could go back in time, I would tell my younger self: ‘Hold on tight honey, this is going to be a long ride!’

“I think the main thing I’ve learnt is just to be myself and now, I know to be accepting of who I am. I wish I could have told myself that earlier in my career; I wouldn’t have had years of insecurity. But nothing happens before its time.”

Speaking of time, the BRIT Award-winner explained why there has been a five-year gap since her last musical release.

“As far as I was concerned five years ago, I was hanging up my mic for good,” says the Rise Again hitmaker. “I was going to be a stay-at-home mum. I had reached the point where I wondered if my kids knew I was their mum and their grandma was their gran, not their mum.”

EARLY DAYS: Gabrielle in 1993

Having put her family first, Gabrielle’s son who is now 18-years-old and in university along with her two nieces who she also raised are old enough for the singer to turn her attention back to music. But what gave the songstress the final push to get back into the recording studio was a chance meeting with US music producer Syience.

“I saw Syience, who was recording with another artiste and I wanted to be the singer he was working with. I loved what he was doing; I loved the sound. Fortunately for me, he wanted to work with me too so I did a few sessions with him and it was fantastic.”

With the new album marking two decades in the music industry, Gabrielle is more than happy to recall all of her accomplishments.

“The fact that I am still here making music, I love it! I know a lot of people are like ‘I don’t want to talk about the songs I did years ago’, but I love talking about what I’ve done and what I’m going to do. Being around for so long is certainly an achievement, one that I couldn’t possibly have imagined and didn’t try to imagine when I first started. I would have been happy being a singer in a pub or club – anywhere.”

She added: “My success came at a time when being a singer-songwriter and being able to express yourself allowed people to connect with you. People have told me that my songs have been the soundtracks to their lives, and that’s a nice thing. Sometimes success is about timing as well; I don’t know if I would have had that success now. There are some amazing voices out there. I suppose my little voice has been able to make music that people have told me over the years has connected with them. It’s nice.”

And with her new album, Gabrielle says she hasn’t deviated from the formula that her fans know and love.

“When we were doing this album and the track list, I was really chuffed by how well the new songs sat alongside the old ones. It’s still very Gabrielle, but its Gabrielle 2013. People will still be able to realise that it’s me. I’ve never been in fashion, so I can do what I like in music. I never followed a trend and I still don’t. It’s just about doing me.”

Now and Always: 20 Years of Dreaming is out now on Island Records

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