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Still got the music in her

'Playing small venues makes it feel more real' Kiki Dee tells Brian Harrington

Still got the music in her

Kiki Dee has been recording since the 60s, was the first UK act to sign for Motown, topped the chart for six weeks in the 70s with Elton John and appeared in Live Aid in the 80s.

She’s been touring with guitarist Carmelo Luggeri since the 90s and on Saturday they play Croft Hall, Hungerford. Playing small venues makes it feel more real, she tells newburytoday's BRIAN HARRINGTON.

Yorkshire lass Kiki Dee has been recording songs since 1963, both as a solo artist and as a backing vocalist for the likes of Dusty Springfield. I was lucky enough to get to talk with her this week, and admitted that I had invested 6/8d (around 33p) in her single How Glad I Am back in 1964 or 65. She has released more than 40 singles in her career and has hit the charts many times, most notably perhaps, duetting with Elton John on Don’t Go Breaking My Heart.
It is possibly less-known that she appeared on Live Aid in 1985 with Sir Elton or that she was nominated for an Olivier award for Best Actress in a Musical for her role in Willy Russell's Blood Brothers.
Since 1994, however, Kiki has been touring and recording with Carmelo Luggeri, a hugely-talented guitarist and producer who has worked with Bill Wyman, Kenny Jones (The Faces, The Who), Paul Rodgers (Free and Bad Company) and even Billy Connolly.
The pair immediately hit it off musically and the partnership gives Kiki scope to write songs as well as perform them. She enjoys touring and playing smaller venues and told me that it feels more “real” and personal than huge halls.
They have recorded four albums together, are working on another and have just finished mastering a live album. Kiki said she doesn’t record a lot of albums and recounted a story of a chance meeting with Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders, who told her that she hadn’t recorded anything recently because she felt it was important to “experience life” before writing about it. Kiki took this to heart and said she hopes that it helps people to relate to her lyrics.
Through Carmelo, Kiki became involved with the Born Free Foundation – though “I’m not an everyday activist like Annie Lennox”, who she admires for her work with a range of causes. She did, however, get to travel to South Africa to free some big cats.
It has always been impossible to pigeonhole Kiki. Her music has always been eclectic and has covered a wide range of genres. Her current album A Place Where I Can Go and her live shows maintain this tradition.
Apart from three months working in Boots, music has been Kiki’s life (suddenly the lyrics of I’ve Got The Music In Me seem more meaningful) and though she admits to having had a career full of “ups and downs”, she describes herself as “a glass half-full person”.
When I asked her about her career highlights she said that signing for Fontana records and Motown (becoming the first UK singer to do so), as well as meeting and working with Elton John were big moments in her life.
For the future she is happy to be still out there and “moving forward” and hopes that this will be an inspiration to others.
Kiki will be performing at Croft Hall, Hungerford, on September 29, as part of Arts for Hungerford. If there are any tickets left, I strongly recommend snapping them up.

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