“When I was little I started taking a tap dancing class for a little while with my older sister Lauren. When we were at home we used to love practising tap dancing to this song on a little piece of marble in front of the fire. We would tap away, tap away. Not really knowing what we were doing.
Growing up I didn’t really have a very big circle of friends. I can’t say it was ‘ sheltered’ ‘cos it’s the wrong word but I grew up a quite a religious surrounding until I was sixteen. My family were all part of a Born Again church.
When I look back it was – for all of us- a pretty different time. It started out all fine and like a normal church but then it became apparent to my Mam that the way that they would make you feel about certain things didn’t always coincide with what the bible said. It made it very difficult to keep having faith in the people that were telling you to keep having faith in God. My Mam and three sisters realised that it wasn’t a church at all. It was a cult. It seems obvious now. The mothers and fathers were encouraged to home school their children. We weren’t allowed to go to the doctors or dentist.
We removed ourselves from the situation. It wasn’t benefitting us anymore. People from the within the organisation didn’t let go as easily as we would have preferred. There was a few people who would follow us around, try and get into our Facebook and email accounts. It was never that we were in a dangerous situation, it’s just knowing that privacy wasn’t privacy.
After I left, I had my first boyfriend. I went into college ‘cos I learnt to interact with people properly. Learning to communicate and keep the conversation flowing was different when you don’t just have God to talk about. I feel like I have managed to turn a negative from those times into a positive. One positive was, they taught me to sing. I used to perform Christian rock songs. My goal now is to make a living from singing so that I can change the way people think about certain things.
I did my first solo performance at Martinos in Sunderland and sang this song. I was awful. I absolutely murdered the song. But everyone in the restaurant felt sorry for us and tried to tell me that I hadn’t sang at a pitch only dogs could hear and that it wasn’t that bad. It was. I was in the toilets crying. I’ve sung it since then and it’s went a lot better.
It makes me feel happy hearing Mr Bojangles. It didn’t ever have a tie or have anything to do with the Christianity. It’s just a little bit of my childhood I can pick out. It’s fresh- it’s got good experiences and bad experiences. But with my bad experiences I can look back and laugh at them.”
Photo: Biddick Hall, South Tyneside