As she celebrates 25 years in the music business, Beverley Knight has opened up to HELLO! in an exclusive interview and photoshoot about how she overcame insecurity early in her career. The singer, shortly to embark on a ten-date UK tour performing Stevie Wonder hits, said that, when she recorded her first single in 1994 at the age of 21, the music world was full of "young white lads playing guitars, looking at their shoes."
There was also, she felt, implicit racism in the way she was considered by the music industry as, "maybe too dark. It was easier to market someone who was much lighter, with more 'European' features." She was left with a sense of being, "a square peg in a round hole."
"It took years and years, but now, in my later 40s, I'm secure," said Beverley
"I've always been an optimistic, happy, and driven person, and I was very secure about myself in my music," she told HELLO! "But I was a boffin. And I was insecure about how I looked. I felt I had all the things that were needed – strong music and vocals – except what a star was meant to look like. Then I started to put on weight in my mid-20s, which made me feel sluggish. I just felt terrible about my appearance."
Finally a friend told her she had an 'inner fabulousness'. "It took years and years, but now, in my later 40s, I'm secure. If people try to tell you what you should be doing, at this age, you can slap them down very quickly. There's a respect that's naturally afforded to you."
Like this story? Sign up to our newsletter to get other stories like this delivered straight to your inbox.
Beverley is performing the songs of Stevie Wonder backed by an orchestra as part of the BBC's 'Friday Night Is Music Night LIVE' series. The tour runs throughout October and tickets are available from www.livenation.co.uk.