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25 February 2024

It's the British Queen of Soul-turned-entrepreneur

This will be Beverley Knight's first full performance in the UAE. (SUPPLIED)

By Rachel McArthur

It's refreshing to come across a celebrity who is not caught up in their own hype, and Beverley Knight is a star that shines in more ways than one.

Not only is she the British Queen of Soul, 36-year-old Knight also has the intellect, business brains and a sense of social responsibility.

In 2006, the singer, songwriter and producer was awarded an MBE by Queen Elizabeth II in acknowledgement of the charity work she does.

Last year, meanwhile, saw Knight launch her own album independently, set up her own business, and win a highly popular television quiz.

Now, Knight is gearing up to go out on the road, and she touches down in Dubai this week for a concert at The Irish Village.

Here's what she had to say to Emirates Business ahead of the show.

Welcome back to Dubai. This is going to be your first full show here – what can fans expect?

Yeah, I've been here a few times and done a few shows, like during New Year's Eve a few years ago, but I am looking forward to this show. It's going to have a bit of old and a bit of new, and I'm definitely doing all the hits. I know what it is like not doing the hits, as I've been to gigs where artists didn't do their hit records, and I end up feeling disappointed. Those who have seen me know that I am really lively on stage so everybody better get ready to move!

Your latest album is called 100%. This is the first record where you had 100 per cent control, isn't it?

Absolutely. I wear my heart on my sleeve, and I just wanted to be in the position where I had control of what was going into the album. It's a model that loads of artists used before me, like Prince, for example. The thing is, the record company makes you successful, but once you're in the position where you're well known for what you do, you can afford to do things independently. The disadvantage of being with a record company is that once there is a successful formula, they stick with it, whereas artists want to experiment and progress.

Did the global financial crisis influence you to jump ship?

Yes. The recession had a large impact on the music industry, so record companies started to panic, as they wanted to find shortcuts to success. That's why a lot of things were getting chopped, and they weren't establishing a foundation with new artists. They look to those with high visibility to make money fast, and obviously that can ruin the creative process. That's why I decided to jump. That way, things are more precious.

Were you scared to leave after 11 years?

I was terrified, because at the end of the day it's just little old me! But I like to think of myself that I have some common sense or business acumen, and I'm really pleased with the results. It's good to have control and a say in everything.

What do you think of artists who sign 360-degree deals?

There's no way I would ever sign a 360 deal. That gives your record company the right to make money on everything from album sales to concert appearances – so non-recordable profits. You might as well sign your life away. In general, 85 per cent of revenue tends to go to the record company, while 15 per cent goes to everything else – the artist, the writers… etc. So for them to get rights of touring doesn't benefit the artist whatsoever.

It's rumoured that despite selling out her shows, Lady Gaga's record company is out of pocket because she is spending so much on the set.

It sounds like she's signed a 360-degree deal, and Lady Gaga won't get anything unless the record company signs off on it. However, they will get their money back, and it will be Lady Gaga who suffers. It's a shame really because she's very talented and world famous, but she's probably not making much money at all.

Speaking of making money, you turned entrepreneur last year as well.

Yes, we started K by Beverley Knight cosmetics, and the range is something I'm really proud of. I'm a major lover of make-up, and one of the major problems I had growing up was that there wasn't any make-up for darker skin tones. Even throughout my career, I've had incidents where my make-up is just too dark or too light! I made it clear I wanted to be consulted at every stage – from the conception to the packaging – and was adamant that the range's starting point should be dark to light, not the other way around. Light is already out there; it's with dark that the problem lies. The laboratory would put together samples, and I'd be the guinea pig. The biggest thing for me was the foundation, so I'd use it myself to see if it was too green, too red or too yellow – or even if the liquid was too thick.

Your launch event was attended by some very well known faces…

It took place at Selfridges in London, and Chaka Khan was there! I was so excited to have her there. Naomi Harris was also in attendance. It was nice to fill a gap in the market – you have your Mac and Bobbi Brown, so it's nice to have a British range too. There's room for so many others to start their own range too. I saw what Nicola Roberts from Girls Aloud did with her range Dainty Doll, which is make-up for really pale skin, and I thought it was a great idea. I wanted to do the opposite to cater for darker skin tones.

What's next for you after your Dubai stop?

I'll be turning my attention to new material as I'm looking to get my next album out in 2011. And obviously, I'm really looking forward to doing the summer music festivals.

Finally, you just appeared on British television on the celebrity version of Mastermind, and you won. What was that experience like?

I was so scared. That music and the lighting… but I'm so proud of myself. My specialist subject was about Prince, and I am a huge fan, so I was confident about that. I was just worried about the general knowledge. I still can't believe I did it!

Beverley Knight Live in Dubai. Friday, January 22, at The Irish Village. Tickets cost Dh225.

Call 04 210 8567


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