Interview for Celebs on Sunday
Take Three Divas...
8th November 2009
We got caught up in a triple-decker diva sandwich (and we liked it) with Lulu, Chaka Khan and Anastacia ahead of their tour.
Long before entering the hotel room, you can hear their voices. Lulu, Chaka Khan and Anastacia are singing The Bee Gees' Staying Alive a cappella and the powerful sound travels the length of the hotel corridor.
It's not often that Celebs spends the day as part of a triple-decker diva sandwich and if the booming vocals are anything to go by, these acclaimed female performers with 16 Top 40 hits (Lulu), 10 Grammy Awards (Chaka) and 20 million albums sold worldwide (Anastacia) should be approached with caution.
Behind the door of the fancy Kensington hotel suit, you imagine these starry chanteuses would be surrounded by a thousand flickering Jo Malone candles, while reclining on damask pillows plumped up by nubile young men in skimpy thongs, feeding them grapes. Disappointingly, this is not the case. These divas are fairly low-maintenance, demanding nothing more (or so they say) than ginger tea (Lulu), a special pillow for travelling (Anastacia) and good old-fashioned water (Chaka) on their backstage rider.
Big hair and group hugs
There's not a candle or grape to be seen, and the mention of scantily clad males sends all three into fits of laughter. There is a lot of laughter when this dynamic threesome share the same space and though they have never worked together, and only really know each other by reputation, they bonded the moment they met. And that's a good thing because these 'sisters' are going on tour together to entertain hen nights across the land with their show Here Come The Girls, in which they will sing a selection of songs from the 60s through to the Noughties.
Though reluctant to reveal their choice of hits - 'We've got so many favourites,' they say in unison (Celebs is reliably informed that Lulu's Shout, Chaka's I'm Every Women and Anastacia's I'm Outta Love will be given the group treatment). Yes, for the foreseeable, these celebrated solo artists are doing everything together, including answering our questions. Ask them how this show came about and Chaka and Anastacia dive together to reveal it was all Lulu's idea.
'Yes, it was all me', says the Glaswegian belter with a Sandra Dee ponytail, who looks ridiculously youthful for a lass who turned 61 this month, 'I'm always looking for new challenges and last year I did some shows with Kiki Dee, John Miles and others and thought it was so much fun, it sparked the idea of doing a proper tour with other performers and these two women were at the top of my wish list.'
Chaka and Anastacia coo appreciatively and all three hold hands. There is a lot of group-hugging and hand-holding during the hour we spend together, and the vibe in the room is not dissimilar to that of the girls' dorm, what with all the talk about costumes, shoes (they are all a size five and 5ft nada) and Lulu's missing make-up bag.
Chaka, 56, who is all ginormous hair and bright red lips, is the philosopher of the group, offering reassuring words and supportive yelps where appropriate. Chaka also believes that all three knew each other in a previous life and she'll also be the person they turn to for help if they get sick on tour, 'I've studied herbal healing and carry a doctor's bag of homeopathic remedies,' says Chaka. 'I have stuff for colds, for injuries...just call me Dr Khan.'
The party will be on stage
Feeling fit and well is something to sing about as far as Anastacia, at 41 the baby of the group, is concerned. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003, but is happy to report: 'I'm doing good and it's thumbs up for me.' The singer had been happily married for three years to her former bodyguard, Wayne Newton. 'He is a real music fanatic and has been very helpful pulling a set list together for this fantastic show,' reveals Anastacia, 'He will also be there in the early days of the tour, which will be really cool.'
Amazingly there are no male fixtures in Lulu and Chaka's camps. The former, who has been married twice says she isn't looking. 'No, I'm not on a search to find a partner. Mostly I'm happy on my own and like not being tied down. But if you meet someone you really want to spend most of your time with... someone who is part of you, that's fabulous. But it would have to be right. Why, do you know anyone?' Lulu bursts out laughing.
As far as romance goes for Ms Khan, she's already doing what she loves most and that's singing. 'I'm on the road a lot and although I'm not really looking, I'm open to the possibility. But I'm so busy working that the guy will probably miss me.'
Potential suitors should keep their eyes peeled for Evans Christmas campaign as Chaka is the new face of the brand, and plans to get involved in the designing, when she isn't singing. Lulu too has another string to her bow, her cosmetic line, Time Bomb, which from the look of her is certainly worth a try.
'I did this after years of trying every skin cream on the market,' she says 'We work in a business that is really focused on youth and if you want to continue working you need to look a certain way.' The talented threesome are about to prove they have the looks, the moves and the vocal ability to compete with their younger counterparts, though they draw the line at after-show partying. For one thing Chaka needs a lot of sleep. 'Yes, I do,' she concurs. 'If you work at your singing, you have to give your voice a rest.' 'The party will be on stage,' adds Lulu, who doesn't speak until midday when she is performing. 'I think we will have to travel separately to the venues because when we're together we don't stop talking. I don't know what will happen if we have to share a dressing room.'
Following the sell-out tour, there may be plans for the girls to release an album together. 'It's very possible,' hints Anastacia. 'It's sort of open-ended.'
But before that happens, there's a little matter of Lulu becoming a grandmother at Christmas, courtesy of her only son, Jordan. 'You're going to be a grandma!' exclaims a delighted Chaka. And the chatter and laughter starts up again and is audible all the way down the corridor.
LULU ON HER RELATIONSHIP WITH ANASTACIA AND CHAKA
'We have talked about everything from our families and our hair to our deepest spiritual thoughts, but it's our love of music that bonds us.'
ANASTACIA ON CHAKA
'I've worked a lot with Chaka's backing singers before and they always said I reminded them of her. I just hope Chaka wasn't depressed about being compared to me. But now that we've met, it's like we are twins separated at birth.'
CHAKA ON LULU
'She feels like my little sister.'
The Here Come The Girls tour starts in Edinburgh on 21 November. For more information, go to www.herecomethegirls.org