When we heard that incredible singer songwriter and local girl, Harriet was returning to Tring, we couldn’t have been more excited! Having launched her debut album, Harriet’s been receiving huge critical acclaim and being championed by the likes of Graham Norton, Paul O’Grady and Gaby Roslin. She has a spellbinding voice that shows soul greater than her years and is often likened to the legend that is Karen Carpenter. This year she’ll be touring the UK to promote “Harriet Deluxe” and we’re absolutely delighted that she’ll be including Tring on that list.
We’re heading down to see her at the Court Theatre, so promise to bring you back some awesome pics and the inside line but in the meantime we wanted to get the low down on what she’s been up to since leaving town. Here’s what she had to say…
So you’re a Tring girl! Did you grow up and go to school here?
Yes I did! I lived in Tring from when I was born to when I left school after my A-levels. I went to Grove Road Primary School and Tring School. I have very fond memories of growing up here, particularly of my primary school and the Court Theatre was a huge part of my childhood and teenage years. I also went to the Julie Morton School of Dancing, where I did ballet lessons from the age of about 4; “good toes, naught toes” etc… I had a dream of being a ballerina, which didn’t last long. I think I imagined I was a lot better at dancing than I actually was (ha!) Despite being long-limbed, I was a lot more clumsy than delicate. I’m pleased I focussed on singing instead! I have a very special memory of performing the song, He’s A Tramp from Disney’s Lady and the Tramp at the age of 13, in a concert at the Court Theatre celebrating 25 Years of Tring Festival Company. It changed everything for me. I remember being so nervous to perform it on that stage, as it was the first time I had ever sung alone. Particularly given that the act that preceded me, was some loud, raunchy number, which had the audience on fire; they were making so much noise. No one had noticed when I stepped onto the stage, and I remember feeling terrified. When I finally found the courage to start singing, the whole room went instantly silent. It was magical. I will never forget that moment. I knew that from then on this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
How did you start out with your singing career?
I have always been into performing. I think from the minute I could walk and talk, I was singing and dancing all over the place (drove my parents mad)! I later worked with some wonderful musicians and producers whilst living in Tring in my teenage years and had singing training here too. I then began performing in bars and restaurants and at weddings etc… If there was an opportunity to sing somewhere, I took it! For a while, during my time in the 6th form at Tring School, I was in a Jazz band with some school friends, called ‘Sixth Street’. I learnt so much from those guys and it was a very special part of my life. They have all gone on to achieve fantastic things, and I am so proud to have been in a band with them. We performed our last show together at the Court Theatre about 10 years ago. That was also my first experience writing original songs. We really loved performing our own material. I remember us all recording our album in a living room, and trying desperately to do everything in single takes to avoid having to go back and fix everything! It was so much fun; we had a ball!
You’ve been getting some amazing reactions in the entertainment world. What’s been your favourite moment so far?
I think releasing my debut album and going on tour for the first time last year are the biggest milestones for me so far. When you work so hard on something and put so much of yourself into a project, and people enjoy it, that’s the best reward. Nothing beats singing to a live audience and exchanging that magical energy. I just love it! It was such a privilege to get to actually meet the people who have supported me and who bought my record, by going out on tour. There is also something about hearing your songs on the radio, which is rather surreal. I remember the first time one of my songs was played on BBC Radio 2. I was in Marrakech on holiday at the time, so had to tune in via the iPlayer. Paul O’Grady played First and Last. It completely blew my mind and the reaction from listeners was incredible. I have a lot to thank Radio 2 for. They have connected me with a huge amount of people, who have now become loyal fans. When, the first single from my debut album, Broken For You was added to the Radio 2 playlist for 5 consecutive weeks, I couldn’t believe it! It’s the most wonderful feeling when people with such a big influence believe in what you are doing. I also was invited to perform Maybe This Christmas live on Graham Norton’s Christmas special, which was amazing! Such an exciting day. Singing ‘live’ on radio is such a bizarre experience, as you are perfuming to all these thousands of people out there, but you can’t see them… It’s a strange concept when you think about it. My mum was also thrilled that Graham adored her mince pies. I think that was one of the highlights of her year (ha!) Maybe This Christmas becomes more and more special for me every year; it was a joy to write. Steve Anderson and myself wrote the song with the legendary Judie Tzuke (Stay with Me ’til Dawn). She is such a big part of my album, and I have learnt so much from working with her. I have also had a tremendous amount of support from regional radio stations up and down the country and without them, nobody would really know anything about me! These people have all been so vital in spreading the word about me and my music and I’m so grateful for their support. Another moment that I will forever cherish is watching the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra recording songs for my album at Angel Studios in London. It was honestly one of the best days of my life (so far). Witnessing these little songs you write, being transformed into huge orchestral arrangements, played by these phenomenally talented musicians in just a few takes, is spellbinding. There were lots of smiles and tears that day. It was very special.
I see you’ve been recording an album in Stockholm. Whats next for Harriet in 2018?
I have indeed. I am working on my second album there and it’s so exciting. The city is fantastic!! A lot of wonderful music has come out of Sweden; producers such as Max Martin, and Jörgen Elofssson shaped my childhood with their hits by Britney Spears and Backstreet Boys etc. I had the privilege of working with Jörgen whilst in Stockholm last year, and I love the song we wrote together. I’m thrilled to be working with some other superb writers and producers out there and we are experimenting with some different sounds. I want this next album to be something a little different from my first, but still very much ‘Harriet’! I think it’s important for me to challenge myself creatively and try different things. I am looking forward to sharing some new music with everyone!
You’re performing at the Court Theatre 23rd February – we’re so excited to come and see you! How do you feel about playing to your home town?
It’s going to be a little emotional for sure. It was 20 years ago I first performed in that theatre as a little girl (haha)! That venue has really been a key thread running through that part of my life and I felt like it was time to revisit it and say ‘Hi!’ 🙂 I am quite nervous as I think there are going to be a lot of familiar faces. I hope they are not disappointed! We have put together a special set list, with some songs from my album and a few new ones that I’ll be performing for the first time on this tour. I have already had so many messages from people who are coming to the show; lots of my friends and family and I think a few of my school teachers…The pressure is on! I cannot believe the show is sold out – how awesome to be performing to a full house. I am so grateful to everyone who has bought tickets. It means so much to me to have this incredible support from my home town.
Harriet plays the Court Theatre 23rd February
For tickets/info visit: www.ents24.com/tring-events/the-court-theatre-pendley/harriet/1073861800