Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1101

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Jade Ewen: Lucky Star

Jade Ewen
Jade Ewen Jade Ewen Jade Ewen Jade Ewen

You’ve heard the expression “What’s a nice girl like you doing in a place like this?” Well picture this... 21 year old Jade Ewen, the UK’s representative for the Eurovision contest earlier this year. Her previous musical experience consisted of being a member of a girl band (Trinity Stone) that didn’t quite make it and appearing in London’s West End as Nala in the Lion King - a good place to cut her teeth (forgive the pun) in the rigorous and often arduous world of musical theatre.

It was that discipline which was set to serve her well as she was voted by Joe (and Josephine) Public as the best we have to offer, carrying all our hopes aloft in a competition – a competition let’s face it, that we have no chance of winning. A competition that is SO one sided and blatantly biased that even if we were the only ones in it, we still wouldn’t win!? I think by now everyone is aware the Eurovision Song Contest is so lop-sided and so tainted by who is scratching whose back, the only thing that has previously held it together (by a thin thread) - would be the fun element. An element, that I have to report, is now sadly missing making the result not only a foregone conclusion but a sad farce. It was this competition and against these odds, one Jade Almaire Louise Ewen almost - just almost, ended up walking away with.

Her secret weapon, on this bitter night in Russia (not just the weather) was a certain tunemyster called Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber – he of countless West End hits known throughout the world - together they would prove a formidable partnership in this ever uphill struggle. The result was a very respectable 5th for the song ‘It’s My Time’ as Ewen escaped ‘from Russia with Love’ whilst attaining the best score by the UK for years. And there, as they say, with 100 million people watching - a star was indeed born.

We catch-up with team Ewen in Kensington High Street at Polydor’s HQ, where she is in an effervescently jovial mood as she talks to B&S’ Lee Tyler – well course she is...

Lee: New single ‘My Man’ is a bit of a departure from the Eurovision gig – was it made pre-Eurovision.

Jade: Yeah, this was done before – I’d say this is me now. Most of the world first saw me when I was doing an Andrew Lloyd Webber song on Eurovision – they thought that was me. Now I get to be truer to me as an artist and I get to do a bit of dancing cos I love that and it’s fun!

Lee: It’s a hell of a switch within a year, the public know you as the girl from the Eurovision. Some people take years to reinvent themselves, it would appear it's taken you months. Is it reinvention in this case, or were you like that all along?

Jade: I really was like that all along. Anyone who saw Your Country Need You, the selection programme for Eurovision saw me do Beyonce and Christina. For most of the general public they didn’t get to (you mean most didn’t watch it, NO!? I’m surprised!), but I don’t mind – I feel there’s a bit of an advantage, bit of a shock factor. “We didn’t expect you do anything like this, you dress completely different “. It was so hard. I had to be on my best behavior all the time, I couldn’t dance - I had to be very formal all the time.

Lee: The stage work aspect of Eurovision was a discipline that you were used to doing the Lion King in the West End - did that background help?

Jade: Yeah, It wasn’t difficult from that sense because I went to stage school as well (Sylvia Young). I came out of it for a couple of years because I left at 16 and was in a pop group and stuff – it was there they would say “I picked up bad habits.” I picked up signing in a different style and riffs or whatever - They’re like “No, take it all out!” (can you blame them, singing a rift!?)

Lee: Bad habits because they’re not their habits I suppose... Do you think you picked up good habits from Lloyd-Webber, stuff you can utilise now?

Jade: Yes definitely - Because of the Eurovision experience and Andrew, I was sort of thrown in the deep-end with everything. At first it was really overwhelming but the good thing now is, I feel, if I could deal with that situation - I can deal with most. In that sense you just don’t expect 5,000 fans waiting for you outside for three hours; you have to have Police escorts and stuff... Now if there’s one photographer (she laughs) then it’s not that bigger deal.

Lee: Bit of a shock factor then?

Jade: Yeah, I found that part more nerve racking, than actually going out there and singing. For me that was the easy part – it was all the stuff around it that was quite terrifying to be honest.

Lee: But you did very well.

Jade: Thanx

Lee: It’s not just me giving you kudos, but the points you received really reflected it. For years no U.K act stood a chance because all our Eastern European neighbours vote for each other. (Terry) Wogan walked out before you could say "nil point!" because we presume he'd had enough - who really knows the real reason why. And In you come and finish 5th with a really good points total.

Jade: It definitely helped for two reasons that Andrew was involved cos everybody knows who he was – it was crazy that just because I was associated with him I then became this star over in Russia, and everyone knew everything about you and I’ve never ever been there before. Also we did a European promotional tour and we particularly concentrated on that Western Block – we went to Lithuania and those kinda places.

Lee: All those kinda places that vote for each other generally?

Jade: (Laughs) Yeah, yeah – but we thought it helped... when you look back on it 3rd, 4th and 5th - there was one and two point’s difference, so it could have been anybodies. It’s weird though because I really wanted to win it and now I sort think I’m lucky I didn’t. I know it sounds weird to say but seeing how the world has responded to the winner now, the Norwegian girl Alexandra (I'd respond if I knew who she was!?). I think as a pop artist it would have been harder to try and get away from the Eurovision sort of stigma. People, even though they say it’s achievement - still people look on it as a cheesy thing. So to be taken seriously as an artist... I think I did well enough to come away positively.

Lee: The Sylvia Young School that you mentioned earlier – was that where you got your break?

Jade: Yeah, I danced at a local dance school at first and then went to the Sylvia Young summer school – my mum said it might be fun to do. We heard about auditions for the full time school but I couldn’t afford to go. Sylvia told us about a scholarship she ran for under privilege families and stuff. I won one of those - it was there I started to get training in musical theatre and acting as well. I went for an audition and they whittled us down to however many. It’s funny because I used to take Vanessa to school – she lived at the end of my road, she’s actually in the Saturdays now and she also did the Lion King with me at that time. People used to think that we were sisters.

Lee: How important is family to you?

Jade: Very, my mum was like “Go out and do whatever makes you happy” and my Dad is my other number one fan – he still gets a tear in his eye when he hears me sing.

Lee: Did they come out to Russia?

Jade: Yes they did – Andrew was really, really nice – he paid for them to come out and stay. They told me what it was like cos you can’t hear anything up there.

Lee: Do you write your own material.

Jade: I do – I wrote all my own stuff before this album. Since Eurovision it’s just been crazy – we had a lot of people pitch songs and although some of them are good, I didn’t want an album of just random songs. I feel frustrated at times when you're singing other peoples material that it’s not reflective of you. So I ended up just working with this girl called Ina Wroldson, who’s a great writer - she’s really good at getting across my feelings and my thoughts and views. In the last two weeks, now that things have settled down a bit I’ve been doing my own writing – hopefully those songs will be on the album to.

Lee: You co-wrote with Booty Love and worked with Ne-Yo.

Jade: Actually, It was me and my old band mates – we wrote a song called ‘Shut Up’ which Booty Love ended up cutting and put on their album, which was really cool. And yes we worked with Ne-Yo in Denmark (on the track 'Real Love') – they have a lot of R&B artists come over there and produce for them. We also worked with Ce-Lo from Gnarls Barkley. He wrote a song for us called ‘Wide Open’ and then we did another one, a sort duet that didn’t get released.

Lee: It must be a good feeling to actually get material released and get it out there at last.

Jade: It is – third time lucky! This is my third record deal!! (Laughing) This time round I’m praying.

Lee: Immediate plans?

Jade: To finish the album – ten songs in and only two to go. Then I wanna get on a tour to support at the end of this year – just to do a few live performances and stuff. Not sure who yet, cos there’s a few options. I obviously want to release in the U.K, then to release in Europe, and then take it out to Asia and then to the States as well – I want to be an international artist. Then after that, loads – writing...(laughs)

Lee: All in one year! (Laughing) The way you’re going it wouldn’t surprise me - you’ll probably do it!!... (Jokes) By Christmas I’ll be catching up again, asking what else you’ve done this year phew!

Little did we know that since this interview was written, fate had been hiding just around the corner - handing Jade Ewen a chance to replace the last original member of the Sugababes Kesisha Buchanan, after a well publicised and slightly acrimonious split. Hell of a year indeed Miss Ewen - from Eurovision contender to pop champ via the Sugababes. Oh, and with a brief solo project in between. I wonder what will be in store next year for this talented one; the mind can only boggle... Still, I think the easiest way to see it in short is - B&S readers loss, is the Sugababes gain. Good luck Jade.

Jade Ewen releases the single 'My Man' on September 21st... we wait to see if there's an album to follow, but due to the artists commitments with new band (in a manor of speaking) Sugababes - we somehow doubt it!?... Shame:(

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