Beverely Craven is on the road with Judie Tzuke & Julia Fordham who will all be joined by special guest Rumer for the new Woman To Woman autumn 2022 UK tour, playing Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall and the Liverpool Philharmonic along the way. Alan Parry had the chance to catch up with her.
About Woman To Woman, the group with whom you’re hitting the road this autumn… How did this come about, were you already friends and acquaintances – or is it more related to styles?
For several years Judie, Julia and I have all shared the same agent who books our solo live shows as individual artists. I thought it would be a great idea if we joined forces and went out as a triple bill because our music was likely to appeal to each other’s audiences and as a team we could play bigger venues and afford to hire a full band. The unique line up was bound to attract a wider audience too and we could all sing each other’s backing vocals and share the pre show nerves… It felt like a no-brainer to me! None of us knew each other before we formed WTW but the bond was instant, probably because we all have similar experiences as artists, and as mothers, and because we have a huge amount of respect for each other.
We recently covered the Giants of Soul tour, Boyzlife will be playing Liverpool soon too. There are many other acts dusting themselves back down and returning to the stage too, how much of an effect do you think that our obsession with nostalgia is having on these artists? What is it that motivates them to keep on?
I think music is more powerful than any other art form – it can lift everyone’s spirits and take us back to certain times in our lives, like time travel, reawakening old memories and reminding us of our youth. We never forget the lyrics to our favourite songs, do we? Live concerts especially bring people together in a feel good, shared experience, which is exactly what we all need after 2 years of social distancing Covid restrictions and when we are being bombarded with depressing news 24/7. Ultimately, the girls and I enjoy performing. It’s a big part of our lives. And far from ‘dusting ourselves down’, we’ve all been out there quietly doing our little solo gigs under the radar, keeping our hand in and slogging our guts out, just waiting, it would seem, until we all found each other!
Will you dip evenly into the back catalogues of the whole group? How are your set lists created and do they alter much between shows? If so, why?
All of us perform our hits because we know that’s what the audiences want to hear and we stay true to the original recordings. We have a few newer songs in the set – our Woman To Woman collaborations like ‘Safe’, ‘If’ and our latest single ‘Humankind’. Sometimes I play the piano in Jude’s set. We take it in turns to perform. Occasionally we change the set just because we all have so many songs to choose from 🙂
Are you pleased with the response to the new material?
We love the sound of our voices together – it’s a very good blend – Julia naturally takes the low harmonies, Jude sits in the middle and I go on top. None of us could’ve known how well it would work with the three of us. We’re all very proud of our WTW collaboration.
Does your mega hit single weigh heavy on you or are you more proud of it? We often read of artists rejecting the hits and motoring forward, where do you stand on this?
I enjoy performing ‘Promise Me’ live and I’m very grateful that it’s still played on the radio. It’s been covered hundreds of times in many different styles and I love hearing other people’s renditions! I remember the day I wrote it like it was yesterday…in my little top floor flat in South East London – a struggling songwriter on the dole, dreaming of signing a publishing deal. When Sony Music wanted to release ‘Promise Me’ as my first single I actually thought they were mad because there wasn’t anything else like it in the charts. But I suppose that’s what helped it to stand out.
Is it a struggle to remain relevant, or do you simply concern yourselves with making music that makes you happy?
I’ve often referred to myself as not being relevant in today’s music scene, but that’s OK – pop music has always been youth culture in my mind and I’m certainly not as creative as I used to be in my twenties. But there is a space for us ‘vintage acts’ nowadays and it seems to be booming. Our Woman To Woman project has even expanded to include Rumer – she’s our Special Guest on the tour. I’m really enjoying learning the backing vocals for her songs! It is sometimes a struggle trying to retain the joy of playing around with music and not feeling restricted by other people’s expectations. Validation and being able to connect and relate is an important part of what any creative person does despite what they might say.
How is your health bearing up to the schedule?
I’m doing very well health-wise – fully recovered from my recent brush with cancer (although I touch wood every time I say that!) It took me a good 2 years to bounce back from the chemo, surgery and hormone therapy but it feels like I’m firing on all cylinders now. It was tough though, and I’m constantly looking over my shoulder and wondering if I’ll be diagnosed for a third time…I guess the trick is to just keep going – get done what you want to do and make a conscious effort to keep making wonderful memories.
What are your memories of/is your relationship with Liverpool?
I’ve played at the Neptune theatre (now called the Epstein) and a little venue called Baby Blue many years ago…I’m very excited to play the Philharmonic Hall on November 21st.
What professional ambitions do you still hold? You’ve sold a reported four million records – how do you reconcile yourself with that?
I’ve recently discovered a passion for arranging string parts. Judie and I are doing a string quartet tour next year called ‘Strings Attached’. It’s the perfect line up for both us – organic, completely live, semi classical and thoroughly musically satisfying. Four million? Really? I think someone must’ve made a clerical error…
What’s next for you and the band?
Well, we’ll all be in our sixties next year(!) so I think this Woman To Woman tour might be our last, but who knows…? It’s a huge machine to crank up and get out on the road. We have several crew and logistically it takes a LOT of organising and funding. Planning starts 18 months beforehand – booking the venues, hiring musicians, arranging rehearsals, hotels, equipment hire, transport, promotion etc. Jules still has a teenaged daughter and has to fly over from LA and then live out of a suitcase for a couple of months. I have to arrange dog sitters for my Staffie, who is quite a handful at 15 months, and Jude also has two cats and a dog. We all laugh about the fact that we’ll probably die on stage…well there’s only so much gardening and housework one can stand, isn’t there?
Photo Credit: Jonathan Knowles