Andy Howells chats to music legend, Petula Clark ahead of her show at St Davids Hall on October 9.
“I have to try and figure out what to leave in,” sighs Petula Clark as we discuss her forthcoming show at St David’s Hall in October.
“I want to put new songs in from the new album and it means giving the elbow to a few others, which is difficult because I love them all for one reason or another.”
One can see Petula’s predicament. In a career spanning over seven decades, she is the best-selling British female artist in recording history, selling over 68 million records worldwide.
However, with a back catalogue which stretches back to the 1940s and comes right up to date with her current album, From Now On, it must be difficult to make a calculated choice of what to give her fans at a live show.
“If I put everything in there that I want to do and what the audience want me to do, I would be there for a long time, even the curry places would be closed!,” she laughs.
With a wide range of material to choose from, fans can be guaranteed a superb evening of musical memories as well as new material from the singer, now 83, including her 1964 worldwide hit Downtown.
Unlike many of her 1960s contemporaries however, Petula’s career has continued to blossom.
A few years ago her album Lost in You which featured the dance single, Cut Copy Me was the ultimate proof that Petula Clark was able to move with the times and still deliver the goods. But then, that has always been the case, whether dancing with Tommy Steele and Fred Astaire in Finian’s Rainbow, performing with large orchestras at The Royal Albert Hall or performing a Beatles tune, 1920s style, with The Temperance Seven for television.
“I’ve done a lot of diverse things,” she laughs, “but that’s because it’s amusing for me to do that. it may be a little confusing for the audience and they think “What’s she doing now? Whys she doing that?” But that’s who I am!”
A songwriter as well as a performer, Petula continues to put everything into her material whilst taking inspiration from her life and experiences which stretch back to growing up In Abercanaid with her Welsh Grandparents in the 1940s, a heritage she’s proud to proclaim as she discusses the new album.
“The backing singers are mostly me, I love doing that because I’m part Welsh, I love harmonising, getting in there and going for it!” she laughs.
There are also a few familiar songs on From Now On, including a version of The Beatles’ Blackbird and Peggy Lee’s Fever, which Petula reveals she was hesitant about recording.
“Peggy Lee inspired me when I was growing up,” she says, “When my producer, John Williams, came up with the idea of doing Fever, I went “No I don’t want to touch that, that’s Peggy’s song”, and I thought that was the end of that, but he’s a bit sneaky like that!.”
“I was out of the studio for a few hours and he’d done a track of Fever which was totally different to the way Peggy had done it and I just went up to the microphone and thought, “Well okay I’ll have a go at this!” I found myself enjoying it enormously and thought “Well maybe Peggy would approve because I got to know her and we sang together.” I don’t think she’d be too shocked by me doing Fever.”
No doubt, Petula’s fans will be delighted as she performs songs from From Now On as well as classic hits Downtown, This Is My Song and Don’t Sleep In the Subway at St Davids Hall on October 9. Visit stdavidshallcardiff.co.uk for ticket details.