Beverley Knight: ‘Who do I despise? I can’t tell you how much what Priti Patel has done grieves me’ | Music

Born in Wolverhampton, Beverley Knight, 49, had her first UK Top 10 hit with the album Who I Am, which was nominated for the 2002 Mercury prize. In 2013, she made her West End debut starring in The Bodyguard, and has since been Olivier nominated twice. From 19 July to 28 August, she will be appearing in Sister Act: the Musical at Eventim Apollo, London. She is married and lives in London.

What is your earliest memory?
Listening to the radio and hearing Stevie Wonder singing Sir Duke. I must have been about three.

Aside from a property, what is the most expensive thing you’ve bought?
I am a shoe and bag freak. I shelled out for a Chanel handbag on eBay and it was still four figures!

Describe yourself in three words
Happy, kind, chatterbox.

What do you most dislike about your appearance?
My feet. I’ve got corns, they’re calloused because I wear heels all the time, and I inherited bunions from my grandmother. They are not cute.

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If you could bring something extinct back to life, what would you choose?
Prince. In 2007, I shared a stage with him at his aftershow at the O2. It is still the greatest joy of my life, musically.

Who is your celebrity crush?
David Olusoga, the historian.

What is the worst thing anyone’s said to you?
Someone told me: “You’re 46, you’re female and you’re black.” It was said as a reality check of my worth and where I could go in life. I was devastated, because I think they are my superpowers.

What do you owe your parents?
I am the daughter of immigrants, so everything.

What does love feel like?
Fizzy.

Have you ever said ‘I love you’ and not meant it?
No.

Which living person do you most despise, and why?
Priti Patel. The way she’s taken the hostile environment and run with it – I can’t tell you how much it grieves me.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
I call everyone “love” and “chicken”.

If you could edit your past, what would you change?
Some of the neuroses of my 20s. I knew I had a great talent, but I thought it was unmarketable because I felt ugly.

If not yourself, who would you most like to be?
I would be as fearless as Grace Jones.

When was the last time you changed your mind about something significant?
I wasn’t going to do Sister Act because it meant starring in one show and rehearsing another, but passing up the opportunity to be on stage with Jennifer Saunders would have been madness.

How often do you have sex?
As often as we can.

What is the closest you’ve come to death?
On a flight to Newcastle, when we had terrible storms. The plane dropped quickly and the oxygen masks fell down. We had to land in Manchester.

What single thing would improve the quality of your life?
More time.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Having a career that’s 29 years in.

Would you rather have more sex, money or fame?
Money.

What happens when we die?
We join the ancestors to look after the next crop of people.

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