2017 line-up, who performed all their hits, Christmas classics and more:
SPANDAU BALLET – THE 80s PHENOMENON
Pioneers of the 80s Romantic movement, Spandau Ballet formed in 1978 and had numerous chart topping singles and albums all over the world, some of the most memorable being the singles “Gold”, “Only When You Leave”, “Lifeline”, the epic “Through the Barricades” and of course the international number one “True”; the latter famously sampled by PM Dawn in 1991 and featured on Paul Anka’s Rock Swings in 2005.
By the mid-80s they were world-wide superstars, however, relationships cracked and the band split in 1990. However they reformed in 2009 for the “Reformation Tour” , a worldwide tour that included three sell-out nights at London’s O2 and their first festival date at The Isle of Wight Festival.
In 2014 the band were all together again for the launch of their critically acclaimed rockumentary “Soulboys of The Western World”, which quickly became the No2 grossing film in the country and united critics from the UK broadsheets to USA’s Rolling Stone in their acclaim. The archive-only feature documentary combines newsreel footage of the time with unseen video from the band’s home movies, along with long lost material newly discovered.
With the enormous success of the film the band announced their “Soulboys of the Western World” world tour which kicked-off in January 2015 for 9 months playing at some of the biggest venues and events including the Singapore Grand Prix. The band also played in America for the first time in 30 years.
As lead singer of Spandau Ballet, Tony Hadley over the years, earned the accolade of being one of pop music’s greatest vocalists. In addition to all the band’s songs, many will remember his prominent vocal contribution to the Band Aid UK charity single “Do They Know It’s Christmas” and subsequent 1985 London appearance at Live Aid. He also performed solo at the Nelson Mandela Concert at Wembley in June 1988.
A LIFE IN MUSIC
Turning the page on Spandau Ballet (after they disbanded in 1990), Tony stuck to the same raw instincts that brought him early success. Tony is a solo artist in his own right who has spent the past twenty five years entertaining audiences all over the world with his stunning rich voice that has lost none of its power, and which critics deem to be better than ever.
He has continued to write and record, and to date has released five solo studio albums; ‘State of Play’ on EMI Records, two albums through Universal Records, a self-titled album in 1998, and ‘True Ballads’ in 2003. In 2006, on his own label, Slipstream Records, he released his long-awaited swing album ‘Passing Strangers’. He has also released three live albums, two live DVDs and has had European success with several dance music collaborations.
December 2015 saw his first ever Christmas album released on Universal Records, with the first single , a cover of the American rock band Train’s “Shake Up Christmas”; one of Tony’s personal favourites.
This year, 2017, will finally see the release of a new solo album.
On the live music front Tony is a regular performer, delighting audiences at home and abroad with such events as the ‘Night Of The Proms’ in Holland & Belgium, orchestral tours of Europe and South America, as well as his own UK & European solo tours.
In 2005 Tony’s contribution to the music industry was officially recognised with the award of a Gold Badge from the British Academy of Composers and Songwriters.
In 2007 he won a new legion of fans following his critically acclaimed performance as Billy Flynn in Chicago on the West End stage. Tony’s appearances in the show gave the musical one of its most successful runs ever and earned him an invitation to perform in the 10th Anniversary Show in 2008.
In August 2011 he played his first solo shows in the US, performing Spandau Ballet songs there for the first time since 1986.
In 2013 Tony played the first of a series of sell-out Orchestra shows which culminated in a performance at London’s Royal Albert Hall.
A PASSION FOR SWING
Aside from his own live band, Tony also has a passion for ‘Swing’; Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett and Jack Jones being just a few of his personal favourites, which has led to performances with some of the greatest jazz orchestras in Europe, including London, Holland, Italy and Spain.
In 2006 he released his long-awaited swing album ‘Passing Strangers’. It was a personal project that had been months in the planning and truly reflects his passion for swing. The album features some of his favourite songs and was released to coincide with Tony’s first UK Swing tour, aptly-named ‘Swinging True’.
BOYS ON TOUR
As well as the conventional shows Tony has played some extremely unusual venues for British, NATO and UN Troops on active service in Bosnia, Kosovo, Kuwait, Cyprus, the Falkland Islands and Northern Ireland. From aircraft hangers & tank workshops to bombed-out theatres & derelict sports halls to name but a few, Tony felt it was a real honour to give something back and be asked to entertain our troops.
TV, RADIO AND PUBLISHING
Tony’s talents as an artist extend beyond the stage and in recent years his profile increased dramatically in the UK. His participation in the UK reality TV show ‘Reborn In The USA’, which saw him travelling across The US in a tour bus with eight other British artists, eventually won him the public vote and the overall “crown”.
He is a successful Radio DJ, firstly at Virgin Radio and now Absolute Radio and brings his own brand of chat and music to the national airwaves every Saturday night.
In May 2004 Macmillan Books released Tony’s autobiography ‘To Cut A Long Story Short’. The book charted Tony’s youth, his early days in the school band, and the heady heights of worldwide super stardom as lead singer of Spandau Ballet. The book was a popular success entering the Sunday Times Top Ten bestsellers chart.
Tony is a regular supporter of charitable causes and enjoys donating his time and voice to help raise funds and awareness.
As Vice-President of Shooting Star CHASE Children’s Hospices he has worked and performed annually at their fund raising events over the past 12 years.
Tony also has a major involvement with Action Medical Research, participating in their treks to Machu Picchu, The Lost World (Venezuela) and in 2009 the Eden Trek, trekking from the Pacific to Caribbean coasts in Costa Rica, resulting in a huge sum of money being raised for the charity’s “Touching Tiny Lives” campaign, looking at research into and help for premature birth. Each Autumn, Tony hosts his own celebrity golf day to raise money for this charity.
In June 2010 Tony began his year as President of TRIC, the Television & Radio Industry Club. Established in 1931, TRIC is an organization that aims to promote mutual understanding and goodwill amongst those engaged in the audio, visual, communications and allied industries. Tony took over from the TV Presenter, Sian Williams. TRIC has an unrivalled track record of charitable support with its members channeling their energies and using their influential contacts to benefit good causes.
Tony is also a Patron of The Lowe Syndrome Trust and supports Huntington’s Disease Association, Willow Foundation, NSPCC.
Tony spends a great part of his year travelling away so time at home and with his local community is very precious to him. With his family, he can often be seen in a local pub or restaurant, supporting community events or enjoying himself on his ride on lawn mower.
As father of five children, Tony likes to keep fit and keep up with the kids!!
He regularly runs and exercises, loves his annual ski holiday and savours scuba and water skiing in the summer.
THE LAST FIVE YEARS
Two of Tony’s highlights in 2012 were when he performed at the Royal Albert Hall.
Firstly in front of The Duke & Duchess of Cambridge in the “Our Greatest Team Rises” spectacular, to promote and raise funds for Team GB and then again a couple of week’s later as a guest of Dionne Warwick to support The Hunger Project.
Tony was also very proud to perform at Team GB House for both our Olympic and Paralympic athletes on the Closing Ceremony nights with “Gold” becoming the unofficial Athletes song.
2014 saw Tony and his Spandau Ballet bandmates premiere “Soul Boys of The Western World” , at SXSW in Texas where the band performed their first concert in North America since 1985. The UK premiere combined with a mini gig at The Royal Albert Hall sold out and was an exciting evening for them all before they hit the road on their 9 month world-wide “Soulboys of The Western World” tour.
In 2015 Tony had the great honour to be invited to Buckingham Palace to meet HM The Queen. He says:
” It was a great honour in my role as Vice President for Shooting Star Chase to be invited to Buckingham Palace by HM The Queen. It was a privilege to be presented to Her Majesty and acknowledge and celebrate the wonderful work of our Royal Patron HRH The Countess of Wessex.” Shooting Star Chase Children’s Hospice Care makes a true and significant difference to the lives of families caring for children with life-limiting and terminal illness, creating some wonderful and lasting memories for the families who need the vital lifeline of their care service.
In November 2015 Tony surprised fans by entering ‘the jungle’ in ITV’s ‘I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here!’
Tony had always been a fan of the show and was keen to ‘have a go’ and see what it was really like. He enjoyed his time in and made it through to the final 6. This particular series of the show was full of controversy and at times very unpleasant for the viewers as well as the participants, but Tony kept his cool as always and was the consummate gent.
In 2016 Tony was involved with the movie “Eddie The Eagle” starring Hugh Jackman, co-incidentally a big fan of Tony’s voice. The film details the inspiring exploits of Michael Edwards, better known as “Eddie the Eagle,” the most famous ski jumper in British history. Tony recorded a new song with Gary Barlow for the soundtrack.
2016 was an extremely busy year for Tony performing all across the world, both solo, with his band and on occasions with an orchestra. He headlined various UK festivals and the BBC Proms In The Park Welsh stage. Tony is incredibly popular in Italy where he performed many sold-out shows in 2016, including a Sinatra concert with orchestra in Tuscany, before returning to the Royal Albert Hall for another well received orchestral show. He finished off the year enjoying tour bus life on a successful European tour,
2017 got off to an exciting start when Tony was invited to perform at the “Celebrating David Bowie’ with Gary Oldman And Friends” tribute concert at The Brixton Academy.
To celebrate what would have been David Bowie’s 70th birthday, actor, friend and collaborator of the late music icon Oldman curated an evening featuring a cast of Bowie’s past collaborators, friends and more, including Tony, Simon Le Bon, La Roux, Tom Chaplin and The London Community Gospel Choir to name but a few. Tony performed “Changes”
Tony then flew to Los Angeles to perform with his band at the famous Microsoft Theatre. While there he also contributed to the LA ‘Celebrating David Bowie’ concert at the Wiltern Theatre along with Gary Oldman, Sting, Joe Elliott of Def Leppard and recent coach on the Voice UK, Gavin Rossdale. Tony performed “Lets Dance”.
Returning to the UK he hasn’t seemed to be able to shirk Keith, having hosted him at his Buckinghamshire home for ‘Through The Keyhole’ and laughed his way through an episode of ‘Celebrity Juice’. He has lived to tell the tale and is about to embark on one of his busiest years to date, including a US tour later in the summer.
Single successes included ‘Chequered Love’, ‘Water On Glass’, ‘Cambodia’, ‘View From A Bridge’, ‘You Keep Me Hangin’ On’ – a worldwide success and a number one in the USA – ‘Another Step (Closer To You)’ (a duet with Junior Giscombe), ‘You Came’, ‘Never Trust A Stranger’ and ‘Four Letter Word’.
In 1983 Kim was voted Best British Female Singer at the BPI Awards, while “live” highlights include performing to over 2 million people on a five month European stadium tour with Michael Jackson in 1988, and supporting David Bowie across Europe on his 1990 Greatest Hits Stadium Tour.
A sabbatical from the music industry – prompted by marriage and motherhood – gave Kim’s passion for horticulture an opportunity to ‘blossom’, leading to the publication of two books (‘Gardening With Children’ and ‘The First Time Gardener’), numerous gardening columns and yielded a Gold Medal and Best in Show in 2005 at The Chelsea Flower Show
After a huge hit duet single with the German vocalist, Nena, in 2003 Kim was encouraged to make a new solo album and, having signed to EMI Germany in 2005, she enjoyed a Top 20 Album (‘Never Say Never’) and single (‘You Came 2006’) in the summer of 2006.
In 2007 she took this project “on the road”, performing over 50 live concerts – including two solo tours – with dates in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, Belgium, Holland and Denmark and numerous Festival appearances across Europe. In December 2008 Kim appeared alongside Robin Gibb, Tears For Fears and 10cc – with a 40 piece orchestra and the Angels of Harlem Gospel Choir – in 20 arena shows for the annual ‘Night Of The Proms’ tour in Germany, and she completed another solo European Tour in April 2009.
In September 2008 Kim was signed up by the UK’s number one London commercial radio station, Magic 105.4; five years later she still presents a weekly show, “Secret Songs” every Sunday from 10am-2pm.
Kim’s first album of entirely new and original recordings in 15 years, ‘Come Out & Play’, was released across Continental Europe in September 2010 and attained Top Ten status in Germany and Switzerland and the ‘Come Out & Play Live’ Tour performed to packed houses in February-March 2011.
A new album, ‘Snapshots’, comprising cover versions of Kim’s favourite songs from the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and noughties was released in late 2011. Again a Top 20 album, Kim took the ‘Snapshots & Greatest Hits’ show on the road in 2012.
2013 saw the re- packaging and re-release of a collector’s bonus edition of Kim’s biggest-selling album, ‘Close’ – which celebrated it’s 25th Birthday earlier that year – and the year ended with the release of album number thirteen; ‘Wilde Winter Songbook’ is a collection of Christmas classics plus brand new original seasonal songs.
He signed with MCA Records in 1983 and released his debut album “Human Racing” in 1984. It achieved multi platinum sales and launched Nik’s career worldwide.
The equally successful “The Riddle” followed and, in July 1985, he took the Wembley stage to perform at Live Aid.
In 1990, after four MCA albums and sales of over 8 million, Nik left the spotlight to concentrate on song writing and producing. The following years saw him working with Elton John, Chesney Hawkes, Cliff Richard, Bonnie Tyler, Lulu, Ronan Keating, Jason Donovan, Tony Banks, Michael W Smith, Connah Reeves, Nick Carter, The Hollies, Colin Blunstone, Imogen Heap, Gary Barlow and Let Loose.
He rekindled his recording career in 1998 with the critically acclaimed album “15 Minutes” and has subsequently released three further albums: “To be Frank” in 2001, “You’ve got to laugh” in 2006 and recently the solo acoustic album “No Frills” in 2010.
He has received accolades from such legends as Eric Clapton and Miles Davis and has been nominated for four Brit Awards.
‘We Close Our Eyes’ was released in the spring of 1985. It reached number 5 in the UK charts and became a top 10 hit in the USA. This success was followed by three further UK top 10 hits – ‘Call Me’, ‘Goodbye Girl’ and ‘Don’t Look Down’. The album ‘Go West’ sold 1.5 million copies worldwide and remained on the UK chart for 83 weeks, establishing them as one of the greatest songwriting duos to emerge in the 80’s. In 1986 they won the BRIT Award for ‘Best British Newcomer’ – the one BRIT which is decided by the listening public.
In 1992 their third album ‘Indian Summer’ was released. Written and recorded in California, it further justified legendary producer Arif Mardin’s early description of Go West as ‘modern Motown’. ‘Indian Summer’ included the single ‘King Of Wishful Thinking’, the opening song in the hugely successful film ‘Pretty Woman’. The film’s soundtrack has sold over 10 million copies worldwide. ‘King Of Wishful Thinking’ received ASCAP awards in 1991 and 1992 as one of the most played songs on American radio. ‘Faithful’, the second single from the album, received similar BMI Awards in 1992 and 1993.
Following Peter’s success on the TV series ‘Reborn In The USA’ he, Go West and Tony Hadley performed together on a 60 date UK tour in 2004.
Haircut 100 became as well-known for the preppie outfits they wore as much as MTV bubblegum like Love Plus One and Favourite Shirts (Boy Meets Girl), two of the most endearing songs of the ’80s. Both singles hit the Top Ten in Britain in 1982. Other hits included Fantastic Day, Nobody’s Fool and Prime Time.
Nick Heyward (vocals, guitar) left Haircut 100 just when they were cruising through the pop charts in the U.K. Instead of destroying his career, the move actually provided him with more artistic credibility. Once on his own, Heyward’s work lost much of Haircut 100’s teen gloss; the music was still catchy, but the lyrics were more adult and introspective, as displayed on tracks like Whistle Down the Wind from his 1983 solo debut North of a Miracle. Other tracks from Nick’s solo days included Take That Situation, Warning Sign and Blue Hat for a Blue Day. In 1994, the Beatles-like Kite on From Monday to Sunday was a smash hit on American modern rock stations.
Hearing his music on the radio still makes the sun shine so, when Nick takes the stage at Lets Rock Christmas! prepare to be up-lifted.
“Heart & Soul” led to a meteoric rise in T’Pau’s fortunes both at home & in the USA, where the track stayed on the US billboard chart for 6 months. After a UK arena tour supporting Bryan Adams, the band immediately toured UK city halls as headliners to tie in with the next single, the classic ballad “China In Your Hand.” Nobody could have predicted the enormous impact of “China” which stayed at No. 1 for 5 weeks – the longest serving No. 1 of the year! Simultaneously Bridge Of Spies occupied the number 1 album slot for 2 weeks keeping George Harrison off the number 1 single slot & Paul McCartney off the number 1 album slot. Two Beatles trounced!
To date, “China In Your Hand” has appeared on more than 150 compilations, and has become one of the most played songs of the 1980’s. After further hits such as “Valentine,” “I Will Be With You,” and “Sex Talk,” the “Bridge Of Spies” album was certified quadruple platinum in the UK, selling 1.2 million copies. ‘Rage’ the 2nd album also went platinum.
The original line up of T’Pau split in 1991 after the final hit “Whenever You Need Me” (No. 16)
The final album, “Heart & Soul: The Very Best Of T’Pau,” was released in 1993. Ron Rogers returned to production and studio work, whilst Carol embarked upon a co-writing career, occasionally performing solo and on other projects. Carol also addressed The Oxford Union in a Q&A about her career and take on the music business, plus an acoustic performance.
By 1997, Carol had taken the decision to build a new T’Pau around her, and get back on the road after assembling a massive amount of new material. A 25-date UK tour in the summer of ’97, including some festivals, preceded the release of a brand new version of “Heart & Soul” on the band’s own Gnatfish label. Encouraged by the response, Carol embarked upon recording ‘Red’ the first new T’Pau album for 6 years, After 6 months in the studio, T’Pau performed an orchestrated version of “China” with the BBC Concert Orchestra at the Princess Diana Tribute Concert at Althorp in June 1998. It was broadcast live around the world, and later in a BBC primetime show. All this no mean feat as Carol had been pregnant throughout the recording of the album and gave birth to her first child, Scarlett Olivia, just 3 weeks before the Diana concert! Business as usual as T’Pau quickly joined Status Quo on the European Tour.
In 2004 Carol released The ‘T’Pau Live’ album & appeared in the West End cast Of ‘Mum’s the Word’ at The Albery Theatre with Patsy Palmer, Imogen Stubbs & Jennie Éclair. Other acting opportunities offered were’ Doctor’s’ for BBC One, ’Star’ with Nicolas Hoult for Children’s BBC Two. UK films, ‘Nine Dead Gay Guys’ with Steven Berkoff, Fish & Michael Praed. ’Running Time, the first UK Interactive Film & BAFTA nominated.
Recent TV appearances include Buzzcocks, Trigger Happy TV, Hit Me Baby One More Time, Just The Two of Us & The Mathew Wright Show. Carol has always been a regular and popular guest on radio, including Ken Bruce & Steve Wright, Claudia Winkleman & Sara Cox. Carol has presented shows for Absolute 80’s, LBC & BBC Radio Berks and is a regular contributor to Sky News.
Carol continues to perform live in concert regularly to huge crowds on the UK at the hugely popular 80’s festival circuit.
In 2013 Carol completed a 28 date T’Pau tour, celebrating 25 years in the business, culminating in a packed out Big Top tent at IOW Festival.
Plus special guest appearances by:
In 1985 ‘Walking on Sunshine’ was a top ten hit all around the globe and has since featured in countless advertisements and films including, High Fidelity, Secret of My Success, American Psycho and Walking on Sunshine and it’s been covered by Dolly Parton and was a mash up with Beyonce’s ‘Halo’ sung by the Glee cast. Follow up hits were, ‘Do You Want Crying’ (US Top 40), ‘Sun Street’ (UK Top 30), ‘That’s The Way’ (US #16). Katrina also sang back up vocals on ‘Torn’ by Natalie Imbruglio and has recorded songs with Eric Burdon and Rick Wakeman.
In 1997 Katrina and the Waves’ ‘Love Shine A Light’ won the Eurovision Song Contest with the largest ever margin, followed by an unprecedented four consecutive appearances on Top Of The Pops and a No. 3 in the UK Charts.
Following the split with the Waves in 1999 Katrina pursued an alternative career on radio and TV. She was a TV presenter on Watchdog on BBC1 and had her own show on BBC Radio 2 – where she presented a three-hour show, five days a week. This was followed by a stint in musical theatre, where Katrina played the lead role (the songwriter Ellie Greenwich) in Leader of the Pack, singing some of the songs that had influenced her as a young singer.
Katrina published her first book – Peggy Lee Loves London: My London Guide (Metropoodle Press 2013) about some cool places in London featuring her toy poodle, Peggy Lee. Katrina has performed with her band at festivals and shows in the UK, Europe, South Africa, Canada, Australia and the US where she’s recently completed a couple of North American tours.
2015 was the 30th anniversary of ‘Walking on Sunshine’ and Katrina released her first studio album in 10 years – ‘Blisland’. Currently she is working on a follow up London guide – ‘Peggy Lee Loves London II’.
Award winning songwriter, producer and musician Jona Lewie has had an illustrious career in the industry. From his early days playing piano with blues legend Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup, through early chart success in 1972 with his self-penned Zydeco hit “Sea-Side Shuffle”; to his Ivor Novello winning Christmas Perennial hit “Stop The Cavalry”. Indeed, Jona has had major chart success internationally not only with “Cavalry”, but also with tracks such as “Louise”, and “You Will Always Find Me In The Kitchen At Parties”, amongst many others. The majority of his hits will always be associated with his time signed to Stiff Records.
A major new BBC documentary series was shown about the label that again brought wider public attention to Jona, his music and the infamy of the label. Coincidentally, his 2nd Top Of The Pop’s performance of “You Will Always Find Him In The Kitchen At Parties” although downed many many times, has been one of the most requested clips on YouTube, achieving on one channel in 2008 more than 150,000 hits before it was taken down. More recently it continues to bob up and down on YouTube. Typically, it was downed on 2 further channels in 2011 but not before it achieved more than 500,000 hits on each channel. Since then other channels have upped it again; two of those that no longer survive achieved more than 1 million and more than 3/4 million hits respectively. Similarly ”Stop The Cavalry” appeared on two further YouTube channels, (called Roscoz and Terry Dactyl) and were both downed for breach of copyright but not before reaching more than 2,250,000 hits and 3,500,000 hits respectively.
Recently, Jona has been post producing tracks on his new CD currently planned for release in 2016. His live show features material from this new album along with his ever-familiar hits. A “best of” compilation of his Stiff Records recordings is available from Union Square Records, as is his first Stiff album “On The Other Hand There’s A Fist”, which has become something of a cult classic.
Unlike so many of her 80’s contemporaries, Jaki’s hits have remained fresh, uncomplicated and modern. Set Me Free remains an ageless pop classic to this day after rocketing to No.7 in the British charts in May ’86, an anthem of that era. Breaking Away followed and offered her first location shoot abroad. It also charted at a respectable No.14 in August ‘86. Step Right Up brought Jaki back to her trademark high energy, up tempo pop hits and gave her yet another Top 20 hit in November ‘86. Her third album with EMI, From Now On was produced in 1987. One track entitled The Better Part of Me was an exceptionally beautiful ballad, with many in the entertainment business convinced that this was Jaki’s firstNo.1, guaranteed! However, surprisingly the changing climate of EMI dictated some often incredibly ill thought out ideas and both the video and album were shelved after three weeks. This decision coincided with Jaki achieving a Guinness World Record for being the first black British female solo artist to have 6 consecutive Top 10 / 20 hits, unheard of by a black British female at that time. In the same year, Michael McDonald came into Jaki’s life looking for a female singer to accompany him on the track ‘On My Own’ for his UK Tour. Michael, who has worked with some of the most influential names in showbiz including Patti Labelle and Aretha Franklin, personally chose Jaki over a stream of other UK female vocalists. After hearing her voice, he was quoted as saying that Jaki was ‘one of the best singers Britain has ever produced’. A deep friendship and mutual respect grew between the two artists and to this day, Michael’s first choice for a UK singing partner remains Jaki. Towards the end of the 80’s, sales and figures provided by Billboard magazine had established Jaki as Britain’s most successful black female artist ever. Not surprisingly, Jaki’s success was not limited to the shores of the United Kingdom. People of every culture and language from every corner of the globe loved her natural vocal perfection. The distinct, powerful delivery, coupled with her warm and compassionate ease seemed to melt the barriers of language, colour and creed. Denmark, Germany, Japan, Australia, South Africa – places she had only ever dreamed of visiting – loved her and her fan base grew worldwide.
This marked a turning point and in Japan, Jaki was particularly successful and released albums and singles there that England never even knew existed . Her first album Real Life sold more than 800,000 copies in less than four weeks. By today’s standards, this record is only surpassed by the elite few. Furthermore, tickets for her Japanese tour sold out in 20 minutes flat, outselling some of her well known US contemporaries. In true down to earth style, her reaction was simply, ‘For real?’ Real Life gave Jaki many international hit singles and elevated her status further. Ain’t Nobody did exceptionally well in the United States reaching No.1 in the Billboard dance charts for 5 weeks, with its impressive video also rocketing to the Top 5 in the American Black Entertainment Charts (BET). In retrospect, it is a pity that England never had the chance to hear Jaki’s work at the time as it showed growth, professionalism and a polished depth not heard from Jaki before. In fact, it represents some of her best work (and at the same time least known to UK fans). This album, along with those that followed however, are now available on digital release in the UK, USA and Canada. Ain’t Nobody, Absolute E-Sensual, Real Life and You Can Count On Me are outstanding tracks which were released in 1994. Jaki had effortlessly slipped into the 90’s era of music and as a result, won over a new legion of eager fans worldwide. Sales of Ain’t Nobody reached gold in Australia, Japan and the USA and her next album Best Shots released only in Japan, responded quickly to her popularity with a greatest hits album. Michael McDonald also contributed album tracks specifically for Jaki, with Through Your Eyes in particular being a classic that still stands the test of time. When Jaki appeared on a German TV show with Boy George, he summed her up completely saying ‘You’ll never meet a harder working artist than Jaki Graham’. In ‘95, Jaki released her next Japanese CD entitled Rhythm of Life, followed by My Life in ‘96 and Hold On in ‘98. Sweden also took a great interest in her by releasing singles unique only to that country such as The Christmas Song and Seek and You Will Find which are now rare and highly sought after by collectors. During this period, Motown signed the album Kiss the Sky, which featured Jaki on lead and backing vocals, and has since gone on to sell in excess of a million copies worldwide, meaning the girl from Handsworth was now officially Motown.
Following years of travelling the world and continuing to constantly perform live, 2009 marked a hectic year for Jaki. After being approached by the BBC to work with the BBC Big Band as part of their Radio 2 special, Jaki had only a couple of months to prepare to perform Gershwin classics, that would finally give her the opportunity to sing Jazz! Following her Gershwin & Soul concert in October 2009, people were amazed, having not heard her perform in this genre until now, and not even realising that this too was in her repertoire. Only two weeks after the concert was put out across the airwaves, she received a phone call again from the BBC and the second concert was confirmed, having received a phenomenal worldwide response from the first performance.
March 12th 2010 saw Jaki again performing with the BBC Big Band, this time for an evening of Duke Ellington classics. March also saw the international release of Jaki’s 3 Japanese albums. Until this point Real Life, Rhythm of Life and My Life had only been available in limited territories which had meant that many fans have never heard some of her finest recordings. 2010 continued to be a hive of activity as Cherry Pop records released a special edition CD of Jaki’s 1986 album Breaking Away. In addition to the original 12 track album, 5 bonus tracks were added, 3 of which were exclusive to this release. The summer of 2010 also saw Jaki accompany Michael McDonald and Al Green on their UK Legends Arena Tour which included Birmingham LG, Manchester MEN and London’s O2 Arena, as Michael’s Special Guest. Jaki was invited to join Sir Cliff Richard on his successful Soulicious Arena Tour in October 2011, as his only British Special Guest alongside soul legends James Ingram, Percy Sledge, Freda Payne, Lamont Dozier and Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis Jr of Fifth Dimension, which is available on DVD, having been filmed across 2 nights at London’s O2 Arena.
As for 2012, Jaki had a busy year! SET ME FREE 2012 by DJ Paul Rudd feat. Jaki Graham, was released in May, having been approached to re-vocal the 1986 classic. Jaki was also finally back in the studio and finished recording her first, long awaited studio album in over 10 years. For Sentimental Reasons was released in October, giving Jaki the chance to pay homage to some of the classics she was herself brought up listening too, only this time with a more contemporary Jazz twist. This also tied in with Jaki being honoured on Birmingham’s Walk Of Stars joining the likes of Julie Walters, Ozzy Osbourne, Jasper Carrott, Bev Bevan and more.
Following her intimate ongoing For Sentimental Reasons UK tour in 2013, Jaki received an Honorary Doctorate in Music from Wolverhampton University in recognition of her Outstanding International Contribution to R&B, Soul and Dance. Her life represents so much to so many different people. Her story is an inspiration, showing what a disadvantaged black girl from a socially deprived background can achieve. Her resilience and strength of character in conquering prejudice and ignorance in her mixed race marriage gives hope and strength to people worldwide facing similar struggles. No matter where you’re from or what struggles you may have encountered, it is for this reason that Jaki has amassed a fan base from all walks of life. Her ability to become the conqueror rather than the victim makes her an attractive role model in a society whereby it seems so few remain. Her music embodies people with a positive energy and inner strength and her voice has united and embraced nations and cultures worldwide. Of all people, Jaki would be the one who would least see these special gifts in herself. In her own words ‘I’m nothing unique….
Stock Aitken and Waterman wrote their follow up single, “He ain’t no competition”, which peaked at No.6 in the UK charts. Brother Beyond’s first album “Get Even” was released and became a big success selling 400’000 copies. Further singles “Be My Twin” (chart position 14) and the reworked “Can you keep a secret” (No.22), kept their success moving along with their first nationwide tour.