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Kimberley steps out into spotlight alone!
Last night Bradford’s Kimberley Walsh took to the stage for a major first - her live debut as a solo artist.
Kimberley, 31, of Sandy Lane, is no stranger to the spotlight, of course, having earned international acclaim as one fifth of Girls Aloud, performing on the West End stage in Shrek the Musical and, most recently, reaching the nail-biting finals of BBC1’s Strictly Come Dancing show.
At the National Television Awards last night, though, Kimberley was flying solo, performing her debut single One Day I’ll Fly Away, a cover of the 1980 classic by Randy Crawford.
The single, released last week, is taken from Kimberley’s forthcoming album Centre Stage, in which the star performs a collection of classic songs, which is out on February 4.
Kimberley, who starred on stage as Princess Fiona in Shrek, said of her new album: “It’s very different from Girls Aloud. I have taken a musicals theme, which has always been a passion of mine.
“I went to stage school in Bradford. I was in Les Miserables aged 12, I was in Evita at the Alhambra. It has always been something I have felt passionate about.”
Is Kimberley comfortable as a solo star, away from the comfort of being part of a five-some?
“Don’t get me wrong, when I’m with the girls it is less daunting and there’s safety in numbers,” she said. “But I have done a few things on my own now, like musicals and Strictly, and these things have helped prepare me to go it alone.
“I am quite comfortable singing musical theatre, and this is what my album is. I’m just really excited.”
The West End stage is somewhere Kimberley said she wants to return to in the future – but for the time being another stage beckons.
Rehearsals for Girls Aloud Ten: The Hits Tour 2013 started on Monday in London. The tour marks a decade since Girls Aloud was formed.
Kimberley said: “We have been having lots of really exciting meetings about the tour – it’s definitely going to be our biggest yet!”
It kicks off on February 21 in Newcastle, home city of Kimberley’s bandmate Cheryl Cole.
“I am really excited,” added Kimberley. “Now that we are getting close, it is getting more exciting and we are picking songs and costumes.”
There will be no Strictly-style dancing on the band’s tour though, as Kimberley pointed out: “There will be no ballroom dancing on the tour – I don’t think the foxtrot will go well with Something Kinda Ooooh!”
As she embarks on the next stage of her career, what have been the best bits so far?
“Touring is always the highlight,” said Kimberley. “All of us are really excited to do the Ten tour. We have 20-odd top ten singles to do, so it’s going to be good.
“Also, getting a BRIT award was amazing.”
And she hasn’t forgotten her stage school roots in Bradford, adding: “They helped me massively. I started stage school at the age of five and went through to 15. The training I have had has been good for me. Bradford is lucky to have some fantastic stage schools.”
Although the Centre Stage album is full of instantly recognisable songs, Kimberley has stamped her own imprint firmly on them. She started recording the album last summer in Stockholm, working with pop producers Per Magnusson and David Kreuger.
For example, Memory, from the musical Cats, has been recast as guitar-based, floaty pop, while a Sixties jazz feel – aiming for hints of Amy Winehouse, perhaps – has been applied to West Side Story standard Somewhere.
Although originally a pop track by Randy Crawford, One Day I’ll Fly Away makes it into the collection by dint of being used in the movie musical Moulin Rouge, and as well as the first single release from the album was the first song recorded for the album.
Decca, the record label putting out the album, say: “By re-working a lot of the songs, she has given them a new lease of life with fresh production and purpose, and brimming with emotion.”
Kimberley says of working with Decca: “When they said we’d like you do to a solo album I was very excited. I didn’t just want to do a pop album. I felt that this was the right thing for me to do.
“And I didn’t just want to do it because I was there. I had to believe this was going to work for myself. Shrek gave me the confidence in myself vocally and when they suggested this album it felt right for me. It feels true to who I am right now.
“There’s a lot going on right now but I am loving every minute and can’t wait for people to hear these songs I’ve recorded.”
Centre Stage is released by Decca Records on Monday February 4.