4 April 2020
I’m sure many of you heard the brilliant soul voice of Rowetta without knowing her
name or who she’s actually is as she collaborated with so many artists that there’s a
great chance you have a record of them, with her gripping vox on it, in your collection.
She was born in Manchester and discovered her high-quality singing capability after winning a talent competition at the age of twelve.
For her countless fans Rowetta is best known for her work – on record and on stage –
with the infamous Madchester band Happy Mondays who she still tours with. I had
the opportunity to be impressed by her utterly cool stage presence and most of all
her tremendously impressive voice when playing with Shaun Ryder‘s gang in Belgium.
And something I already noticed before and now definitely again with this interview: Rowetta is a wonderful human being, a positive mind and an empathetic heart.
It’s a privilege to interview her. But first some music.
Here’s her brand new single, dance banger
‘The Game’ (Alexander Technique Remix),
a song by DJ Jay Potter & Rowetta…
What triggered you to become the artist you are. A childhood dream?
“It was never a dream of mine, as a child and I was ever encouraged to sing or
perform, but something magical happened when I was around 12 years old and
realised I had this unique, emotive and powerful voice. None of my family could sing,
so it came as a beautiful surprise and the more I sang, the better I got and as soon as
I got up on a stage and sang in front of an audience, I knew it was a gift and something very special to treasure.
Can you name some artists/bands you were involved with during your career?
“I have worked with many great people. I would miss out some if I tried to let them all. Here are some: Happy Mondays, Paul Oakenfold, Todd Terry, Frankie Knuckles, Simply Red, Inner City, Tom Stephan, Greco (NYC), Klangkuenstler, Third Party, Fun Loving Criminals, Danny Verde, Mobin Master, Rebel MC, Guru Josh, Steve Angello, Laidback
Luke, Swedish House Mafia, Gaz Cobain, Amorphous Androgynous, Paul Weller, Steve Cradock, Cornershop, Jay Potter, Alexander Technique, Steve Mac, Blossoms, Martin Badder, Winachi Tribe, Mike Pickering, Graeme Park, Peter Hook, Billy Ocean, Dave
Beer, Sub Sub, Ray Grooves, Delgado, Animist, Wade Teo, Steve Lawler.
Apologies for anyone I left out. I have been involved with a lot of brilliant musicians
and I am working with some amazing producers/ musicians now.”
With Happy Mondays, Top of The Pops – 1990
And which artists/bands you never worked with
would be on your dream list for the future?
“Nile Rodgers, Calvin Harris, Carl Cox, Roger Sanchez, and Marshall Jefferson would
be up there for sure and I would love to duet with Terry Hall of The Specials. I have
already approached him, and that may happen, which would be amazing.
I would love to have worked with Marvin Gaye, Frankie Knuckles,
Bowie and George Michael.”
Which are your three favourite songs you ever sang?
“Can’t answer this one, I love most of the songs I’ve sung and all the songs I’ve
written have special meaning so impossible to choose.”
Let’s go back in time. Were the early days with legends Happy Mondays
as wild and mad as printed in the press or just a myth?
“Probably madder. In this case, the truth is stranger than fiction. I will have to let people use their imaginations though. Some things are best kept between the band and those close.
I enjoyed the madness at the time though. Being the only girl on the tour bus, touring the world was such a great experience. The good times and the bad are all great memories to have now, looking back.”
What are your thoughts on Brexit?
“I wanted to remain, but the country voted to leave. I prefer not to talk too much about politics or religion though. I’m a musician and an entertainer.”
How do you spend your days now with these
surreal coronavirus times we live in?
“I am very lucky as I have a studio at home and access to so many amazing producers, so it’s a great time for new collaborations. A great time to be creative with lyrics and melodies. I am lucky that I enjoy the space and peace and quiet of home and I get to walk my dogs in the beautiful countryside.”
Any rituals before you go on stage for a concert, Rowetta?
“I just like to be on my own for an hour or so if possible, just to get ready and a quick drink of whiskey & Diet Pepsi. I don’t really warm up, as not always possible, but I like to stem my voice and hum a little, then a quick lie of ‘Kinky Afro’ (Happy Mondays song) and I’m good to go.”
Your favorite pet?
“I love my dogs like children. Have 2 children also, but they’re grown. I have a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and a Papillon. They are older now, so they are loving lockdown and have me running around after them.”
Your top three albums in your collection?
“It’s too difficult to choose just 3. I’m going to pass on this one.”
Your favorite three movies of all time?
Again very difficult but these are 3 of my favourites:
The Shawshank Redemption
The Color Purple
Which female vocalist(s) inspired you over the years?
“Too many to list.”
Social media: a blessing or a poison?
“I enjoy it interacting with people, especially about music and the fun
side of life, but I am able to switch off and know to block and delete whenever necessary.
I try not to get involved with the negative side and try to steer clear of sites that allow abusive behaviour or bullying.”
Your future plans?
“At the moment it is difficult to plan too far ahead. Most gigs have been postponed until later in the year or 2021, so I will be really busy when this is over and in the meantime, I am going to make a lot of new music. I’m using this time to work on new, beautiful music and my voice is loving all the early nights.”
Thank you very much for this interview!
May the toad rise with Rowetta.
One of Turn Up The Volume‘s favourite Rowetta moments. Breathtaking…
All Rowetta photos by Angie Wynne