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Soul singer's star treatment

HONOURED: Jaki Graham with her star in Birmingham

LIKE TRUE stars, soul singer Jaki Graham’s talent has never faded over the decades as she proved during her own special evening to celebrate her inclusion in Birmingham’s famous Walk of Stars.

The popular Brummie has been honoured with her own ‘star’ alongside other great Midlanders such as soul diva Beverly Knight, singer Joan Armatrading, actress Julie Walters and funnyman Jasper Carrott.

But Graham, who won a place in the Guinness Book of Records as the first black British female solo artist to have six consecutive top 20 hits, remains humble about her success.

“I thought I would only ever be a one-hit wonder,” she said during a party to unveil her new ‘star’ at Birmingham’s Nuvo bar, attended by Lord Mayor of Birmingham Councillor John Lines, alongside family, friends and fans.

“But I’m over the moon to receive this and I feel deeply honoured. I’ve always had such a lot of love shown to me from the people of Birmingham.”

ALL SMILES: Graham with her star

And so they should for Handsworth-born Graham is a local girl, who went to school at Ladywood Comprehensive less than a mile away from Broad Street’s Walk of Stars .

While at school she met her future husband Tony. They are still married 36 years later and he remains her manager.

Daughter Natalie, 31, is one of Graham’s backing singers and son Ryan, 19, is also involved in the ‘family business’ that Graham has become.

She shot to fame in the 1980s with the hit Could it Be I’m Falling in Love , which she sang alongside David Grant – a song that the Lord Mayor couldn’t help singing a line from when he presented Graham with her star.

He said: “Your talent and achievements are staggering. You have thrived in an industry that most of us would never survive in.”

Broad Street manager Mike Olley, added: “When I heard Graham sing at Birmingham Town Hall with the BBC Swing Band a few years ago she totally blew me away. She has a tremendous talent.”

RECOGNISED: Jaki Graham is presented with her star by Lord Mayor of Birmingham Councillor John Line

The 56-year-old star is showing no signs of slowing down. She regularly tours the world and has just completed a long-awaited new album called For Sentimental Reasons - her first studio album in 15 years, which is being released on October 15.

Graham, whose parents both hailed from Clarendon, Jamaica, said: “The album is a mix of old and new including some soulful jazz from the Gershwin and Duke Ellington era. It’s the kind of music my dad used to love when we were young.”

Asked if she ever found touring and singing exhausting, she laughed and added: “My family has always kept me grounded and in a way it’s all easier now. The kids are grown up and they’re a vital part of what I do. It’s different from the days when they were little and I would go home and have all the domestic stuff to do.”

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