Rachel Roberts spoke to me about her role as Dame Shirley Bassey and her forthcoming concert in Cyprus
How and what led you to become a tribute act as Dame Shirley Bassey?
I was performing a one woman show called “The Divas” in which I sang impressions of many famous singers. Dame Shirley was the one that everybody commented upon and it was suggested to me that I ought to perform specifically as her.
What is your musical background?
I did GCSE and A level music and am trained in voice and clarinet. I also have a HND in Performing Arts (acting, singing and dance).
What is it about Dame Shirley’s music which attracts you?
Her songs, both the ones written for her and the ones she covered, are magnificent in their arrangement. I adore that full orchestral sound. Her songs are full of drama and she tells the stories with that powerhouse voice and emotion in a way that no other performer does.
Do you actually dress and think like her during the day, or is it strictly a show job?
Ha ha! It is VERY strictly a show job. Some of the dresses, the white tassel dress and diamond dress in particular, weigh over 10lbs. They were each made specially bespoke and were quite an investment money wise for myself and time wise for the dressmakers. My usual style is either my wellies and leggings for walking my Border Collie Ben, or vintage classic for social meetings.
Have you met or had any contact with dame Shirley?
Sadly, I’ve never met her, but I do have contact with people who have. I also meet a lot of people in Cardiff who knew her when she was younger. The Bassey family were are well-known and loved here in Cardiff.
What secrets would you like to reveal which no-one else knows?
That the job isn’t as glamorous as it appears. It involves a lot of hard work and mundane tasks too. However, we performers never show that side as the audience deserves the magic and illusion.
Give us an idea of your daily schedule?
I usually wake around 6-6.30 am and do the normal household tasks of tidying, feeding the dog and the cats, washing etc. Not very glam but all very necessary.
After a lot of tea and coffee, I walk with Ben for an hour in the woods behind my house. It clears my head and gets me ready for the day ahead.
I do a little on my social media and catch up with emails and admin – invoicing and contracting are part of the job.
After lunch I have another walk with Ben and speak to my husband on the phone – he works full time in Kuwait and our phone calls are very precious.
Then I spend an hour on promotion and/or costume production and maintenance before making dinner.
Evenings are all about box sets on Netflix. I’m addicted to RuPaul’s Drag Race and Project Runway – mainly for the costumes!
When not working at a show, I always get to sleep by 10.30pm at the latest. I really am not a night owl at all – I’m an early bird who loves daylight and tries to make the most of it each day.
What do you most love about your lifestyle and is there anything you would want to change?
I love meeting people and bringing escapism, entertainment and memories to them. It’s a real privilege to sing the songs they love and make connection with/ I’m also blessed to see the world as part of my job. There are so many beautiful countries I’ve visited.
What can the audience expect?
Glamour, emotion, fun, drama. They can expect to be involved, entertained and bedazzled! People who aren’t strictly Shirley fans often comment on how many songs they knew and are surprised by that fact. I always answer that Dame Shirley has been in showbusiness for over 60 years. There is a HUGE catalogue of well-known songs that young and old alike love.
As interviewed by Saskia Constantinou
Venue: Zante, Limassol
Date: 12 August 2017
Reservations: Derek Lainsbury on 99039127