Charlotte Pearson catches up with a singer/songwriter who is looking forward to playing the UK again.
Embarking on a new tour, singer Julia Fordham decided she would hand over her set list to her fans.
She asked them to request songs from her back catalogue as she was ‘curious as to what songs people actually want to hear’.
“I was concerned about only playing songs that I think they would want in the set,” she adds.
“I am so grateful for the continued support of my songs, music and live shows that I thought it would be a nice and fun gesture to reach out and see what folks would pick.”
The biggest surprise for Julia was one of the most popular songs requested has never been released in the UK.
“East West is the title track of my fifth album and the CD was not available in the UK,” she laughs. “There is going to be a lush vinyl version of that record at the shows to celebrate it being the number one pick and the 20th anniversary of its original release.”
Having asked her fans for their favourite song Julia says hers is ‘Happy Ever After’.
“I still thank that song for carrying me around the world,” she smiles. “I have re-written the middle section about South Africa and apartheid many times over the years.”
Originally from the south coast, Julia’s tour starts in Worthing and ends in Portsmouth.
“I live in LA now and when people ask me where I come from in the UK, knowing they have never heard of Hayling Island, I always start with a bold and proud ‘I come from the south coast of England’,” reveals Julia.
“So for me anywhere from Brighton to Southampton feels like home.
“Kicking off the tour in Worthing and ending in Portsmouth could not be more perfect.”
As her mum still lives in Hayling, Julia enjoys visiting at least once a year with a visit to The Ship at Langstone Harbour pub top of her list when she does.
“My niece works there and I get to soak up the magnificence of the surrounding area,” she smiles.
Julia’s career started in the 80s when she was a backing singer for people like Mari Wilson and Kim Wilde and in that time she says ‘the industry has changed so much that it isn’t really there anymore’.
“For most new artists there is no record company deal to be had or support to be given,” explains Julia. “It seems to be about getting out there on YouTube or being discovered on The Voice.
“Like everything in life things change and at least there are still avenues for new talent to be seen and heard.”
Asked to describe her sound Julia almost takes you on a musical journey.
“I started off in folk clubs on the south coast of England,” she begins. “I love Joni Mitchell and I played Lilith Fair with artists like Sarah McLachlan, Jewel and Sheryl Crow.
“But then I recently recorded a jazz album for JVC Japan and I also recorded one of my more soulful songs ‘Concrete Love’ with India.Arie as a duet.”
Julia’s last album, ‘The Language of Love’, was released in 2014 while her next, an album of duets, is currently on the back burner.
“I would like to complete it with singer songwriter extraordinaire Judith Owen,” she reveals. “Our voices blend so well together and we seem to be creating something crossed between Simon and Garfunkel and the Civil Wars.”
With an 11-year-old daughter about to start middle school in the US Julia admits she never feels like she has enough time to prepare for a tour.
“I begin my preparation by running daily hour-long sets in addition to the usual scales that I do,” she explains. “I try to shake it up by singing along to an album by singers who are similar to me or to records I love.
“It’s a good way to work the vocal muscles without getting bored of your own material.”
So what creature comforts does she take with her when she travels?
“I have to try and cram everything in one bag but if I had my way there would be a long list of creature comforts I would travel with,” smiles Julia. “My favourite tea mug for one.
“As it is, I have to be practical and make room for essentials.”
With the preparations for the tour in full swing the only question for fans will be if their favourite song is included.
Julia’s tour starts at Worthing Pier’s Southern Pavilion, Worthing, on November 10 and ends on November 27 at Portsmouth Guildhall. For more information, visit juliafordham.com
September 22, 2016 Culture and Events