Beverley Knight will celebrate 25 years in music with a special performance later this month at London’s Festival Hall. The vocal powerhouse shared her tips for a long and successful career with LINE HILTON.
Beverley Knight is often described as one of the greatest soul singers of her generation – an almighty compliment, but one that doesn’t quite do the Wolverhampton-born star justice.
Yes, Knight started her career as a soul singer, recording eight studio albums and scooping up three MOBOs on the way, but in recent years she’s forayed into so many other genres with such aplomb that she must surely be, quite simply, one of the greatest singers of her generation.
Knight is versatile, driven and has one helluva voice. The woman can sing (just about any genre you want) with phenomenal power, full-bodied emotion and precision.
It says it all that when in 2013 West End producers were looking for an artist to play Rachel Marron in The Bodyguard, they called Knight. Who better to step into Whitney Houston’s shoes? (Some critics said Knight’s rendition of I Will Always Love You out-shone Whitney’s. Fine praise indeed.)
The world of musical theatre quickly opened up to Knight, adding another dimension to her already busy career. Since then she’s starred in Memphis, Cats and returned for another stint in The Bodyguard.
Knight will look back on her incredible career on 23 May with a concert at London’s Royal Festival Hall. She took time out from preparing for this gig to speak to iSingmag’s LINE HILTON about her tips for succeeding in the music industry.
You need a passion for music
You cannot do this without the love [for music]. I always knew absolutely and unequivocally that I would sing until there was no more breathe and that I would do it for a living.
To this day I still absolutely love what I do. The joy is immeasurable. You’ve got to have that love. It forms the basis for everything else and will guide you to make the right decisions for you and your brand.
Educate yourself about life and the music industry
I come from a family where education was paramount. I think it’s that immigrant thing of coming in and working hard and education being the gateway to unlocking the rest of the world.
I always wanted to have a degree (Knight studied philosophy and theology Cheltenham and Gloucester College). I’d still be studying now in some way if I had the time because knowledge is power.
Education gives you a certain assertiveness and the ability to think critically. You need those in any industry, but you really need them in the music industry where you are making decisions for yourself. It’s important too to learn about the music business – you don’t want to make a decision that leaves you with huge financial problems. You’re going to make mistakes along the way – everyone does – but you don’t want to make a decision that cripples you.
You must practice what you do. Don’t imagine that you’re going to stand on stage and know everything instantaneously because you’ve been watching YouTube. You need a discipline of practice.
Take care of yourself
In the music industry we get looked after a bit too much, especially after we get any kind of success. It’s easy to forget the graft that got you there. When you get into a West End show, you’re right back into the graft. You need to be disciplined because you’re doing it night after night and sometimes twice in one day.
I’ve always looked after myself but it’s more heightened now. I make sure I get plenty of sleep and hydrate. Going to the gym appeals to me because you need to put the work in and be focused. I work out for strength, conditioning and stamina so I can do what I do as effortlessly as possible.
Vocally I pretty much sing every single day all day and it’s something that I’ve done without thinking about it. I’ve always gently sung to myself which is great because it keeps the muscles in top condition. They remain match fit, they’re never cold. They’re constantly working, but gently.
Build a strong team around you
Gather people around you who are true to you and who you are true to. You need people around you who will always tell you the truth – whether you want to hear the truth or not. Having a really strong team has been instrumental for my longevity. I’ve had the same team all the way along. We work together and move forward together.
MAIN IMAGE: Beverley Knight in the studio. Image Brian Rasic.