Olly Murs’ backing vocalist Katie Holmes-Smith on motherhood and singing

Olly Murs backing vocalist Katie Holmes-Smith

Backing vocalist Katie Holmes-Smith is currently on tour with Olly Murs – and her gorgeous seven-month-old son Jude. She spoke to iSingmag about pregnancy, motherhood and why she decided to take a baby on the road.

Katie Holmes-Smith is proof that it’s possible to have a top-flight singing career and a baby.

The backing vocalist, who has worked with Adele, Professor Green and Kylie Minogue, gigged (in heels) throughout her pregnancy and was back on stage eight weeks after giving birth.

She’s currently wowing audiences with her belting vocals and sharp red suit as part of the Olly Murs All The Hits tour. (As well as providing backing vocals, she duets with Murs on the hit Up).

But Holmes-Smith is the first to admit she’s no super woman. Juggling sleepless nights and breastfeeding with the challenges of being a professional singer hasn’t been easy but has given her a new-found sense of confidence. She spoke to LINE HILTON.

How did pregnancy impact on your singing?

I worked right up until a week before I had the baby. I didn’t really slow down until towards the end when I did start to feel more fatigued.

In terms of my range I didn’t notice much difference, but it seemed to take more energy to create the pitches especially in the upper registers. Breath management was a bit of an issue too. He was a big boy – eight pounds, ten ounces – when he was born, so that did put pressure on everything. I felt like I was shallow breathing.

What helped was I trained at the gym with a trainer throughout my pregnancy. It meant that even though I was carrying an extra ten kilos of weight I could still dance around on stage in heels.

Did you experience any discrimination because you were pregnant?

I thought I would lose all my gigs, but I was pleasantly surprised. Most people were brilliant. I tried to be subtle without hiding it because I didn’t really know what would happen. I was working with Kylie Minogue and Olly Murs and they were just great.

I hope it is a sign of the times. Many of my female colleagues said it was inspiring watching me [perform while pregnant] and seeing me come back. I know I’m not the first, and I won’t be the last, but I think it’s nice to see other women doing it.

I did have trouble though on the corporate side with an agency that books me for a private members club. I was told it [being pregnant] wasn’t sexy and then they threw the excuse at me that they were worried about my safety – they were concerned someone could jump on stage and knock me over. I thought: “I appreciate your concern but I’m a grown up and I can take care of myself”. Then I realised it wasn’t my safety that was the issue it was the fact that the environment I was in was quite judgemental.

You’re currently performing with Olly Murs on his All The Hits tour. How did that come about?

He was so great. Olly knew my situation and that I’d had a baby and said “are you coming on the road with me?”. I wrote a list of what I would need, and his team were fine with it.

Katie backstage with Olly Murs and his team of musicians.
Did you notice a change in your voice after you had your son?

Not in terms of capability but in terms of fatigue – dealing with sleep deprivation and the demands of doing something you’ve never done before is tough. I’ve always needed a lot of sleep. My voice and my sleep are so closely linked. I think that’s a temporary thing though, it’s nothing mechanical. It helps me prioritise the stuff I want to be doing.

What’s your advice for juggling motherhood and a singing career?

Take one day at a time and learn to prioritise. Manage your expectations. If you love to get everything on your to-do list done in half a day, that’s never going to work.

But if the timing feels right, don’t not have a family because you’re worried about what it will do to your career.

How has motherhood changed your outlook?

I’m not obsessing about having a full diary. As a freelancer you’re scared of taking time off, but as a mum you appreciate not having too much to do during the day. You learn to enjoy the simplicity of life.

I have less time now so I can’t work at the rate I used to so I’m finding more value in what I’m doing as a singer. It makes every job I do now so much more valuable. Thankfully I can pick and choose to a degree what I want to be doing with my time.

I’ve also grown in confidence and strength as a female. That’s come from standing up for myself and saying: “I can do that gig, but I can only do it on these terms, will that work for you?”. And that has been liberating for me.

What else is in store for Katie Holmes-Smith?

Obviously I’m on tour with Olly Murs and then I’m going on the road with the legendary Trevor Horn. I can’t wait.

Website: katieholmes-smith.com

Feature photo: Alexandra Waespi

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