The nation’s sweetheart, Martine McCutcheon, is set to play Hunstanton’s Princess Theatre this April as part of a 20-date tour with her new album, Up Close and Personal.
Boasting a varied career, the star first found fame on Eastenders, before releasing her platinum-selling debut solo album in 1999, taking the West End by storm and memorably playing opposite Hugh Grant in Love Actually.
After several years out of the spotlight, now she is back with a new tour, Up Close and Personal, to celebrate the release of her new album, Lost and Found.
Now 41, and happily married with a two-year-old son, the time felt right to return to the studio, our reporter Lucy Ruthnum caught up with the singer ahead of her Hunstanton show.
Lucy: How does it feel to be recording and performing again?
Martine: I love it, I love singing to an audience and meeting the people who have supported me over the years. I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to do this again.
The industry is a really different beast to back when I released Perfect Moment, I love that so many people have the opportunity, but it’s a double-edged sword and people who are very talented are often missed because we all have to work so hard to be noticed.
Lucy: What was the inspiration for the new album?
Martine: Life happened in a major way, both the good and the bad, and I never had the chance to deal with the way I was catapulted into the spotlight. I was so young when I was on Eastenders and after that so many amazing opportunities came along but I never dealt with it.
It was a really unconscious thing, I started to write the songs at a time when I had lost everything. It helped me slowly fall back in love with music and writing again.
Lucy: What pushed you to release Lost and Found?
Martine: I started showing some of the stuff I’d been writing to my husband, and he said it was really good and we started putting it with music. He sent some of it to Radio 2’s Steve Wright, a friend of ours - I was so excited and terrified at the same time - he said it was time for the world to have a bit more Martine McCutcheon.
Lucy: How was it working with your husband, multi-instrumentalist/vocalist, Jack McManus, on the album?
Martine: It was wonderful to work with someone who knew me so well, very challenging, but it helped having our son to look after, we always had to talk to each other even when we didn’t agree!
Lucy: What are your favourite songs from the new album?
Martine: Say I’m Not Alone is the first single I’m releasing and it’s all about being alone and falling in love again, because it’s not all lovely, sometimes it’s horrible and scary. I love that one. And Any Sign Of Life, I wrote that one when I was in LA and it’s all about getting my zest for life and performing back again.
Lucy: What can fans expect from the new tour?
Martine: It’s going to be much more stripped back, I wanted to do it more like an imtimate night of music with me. I’d like the audience who have been with me from the start to be involved so we’ll be having a question and answer session during the shows.
Lucy: Are you looking forward to visiting West Norfolk?
Martine: It’s always fun to get out and see different parts of the country, and to meet supporters from all over.
I actually used to have a lodger, Gemma, who was from King’s Lynn, so if the audience are anything like her, I’m sure I’ll be in for an interesting night!
Lucy: Have you got much else planned for the year ahead?
Martine: There just seems to be this incredible wave of support from the industry, so there’s all sorts of things in the pipeline.
We’ve got a great support network of family and friends - I think you have to build your own version of success and mine’s very much balanced with family.
The show will feature some of Martine’s previous hits, fan-favourites, plus anecdotes from her long and varied career and a chance to ask questions.
Tickets are now on sale for her show at Hunstanton’s Princess Theatre on Sunday, April 29, from £28.
They are available online at www.princesshunstanton.co.uk or from the box office on 01485 532252.