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Una Healy

Una Healy has kept as busy as ever since The Saturdays went on hiatus in 2014. Mother to Aiofe (5) and Tadhg (3), Una became a judge on Ireland’s The Voice and released her first solo album in 2017. This spring she released her latest solo single, Never See Me Cry and the Irish-born singer is now embarking on her first major solo tour with gigs and festivals across the UK and Ireland.

“It’ll be my first big solo tour, which is really exciting. In a lot of ways it’s like going back to what I was doing when I first started out. Back in the day before The Saturdays I was a solo singer songwriter and it was literally just me and my guitar and my PA system going from gig to gig,” Una recalls.

The budding singer gigged all around Ireland and then decided to move to London to try and further her music career. Like many new artists, she competed for slots on the somewhat gruelling open mic circuit in clubs and pubs around London.

“The Bedford in Balham was probably my first ever London gig. I was so delighted to get a slot there. It was just me and my guitar and I performed around five or six original songs. It was such an exciting time,” she recalls.

“The Bedford is such a brilliant place. People can go and have food and watch up-and-coming talent and undiscovered artists. Music A&Rs often go down to see who’s about. It’s so lovely to be part of that history,” she adds.

Not too long after moving to London, Una auditioned for The Saturdays and her career took a different road. She found fame as one fifth of the chart-topping girl band and sold over 5 million records worldwide and racked up 13 top 10 singles and five top 10 albums in just six years.

During those younger years, Una enjoyed painting the town red with her bandmates but now lives a much quieter life.

“I’m not a big party goer anymore. I used to go to the clubs with the girls back in the day and have a great time. It was always quite funny when our songs came on as we would get on the dance floor and I would start busting out the moves. Now I’m more into local country pubs. Having said that, I’m dying to try out Bunga Bunga [in Battersea] as I’ve heard great things. We might need to get my parents to babysit and have a good night out soon.”

Una is married to Northampton Saints rugby player Ben Foden and says that family life is all about balance. “We have busy careers but we co-manage our family time and the kids. I do most of my writing during the week as Tadhg is in nursery four days a week and Aoife is now at school. You come home after dropping them off to such a quiet house but it gets crazy again in the evening,” she laughs.

Inspiration for her new single, however, came while miles away from the family home and day-to-day life.

“I was on holiday last year and was watching a group of friends having an amazing time, dancing their hearts out. They looked so carefree. Never See Me Cry is an up-tempo track with loads of attitude. It’s a powerful song for anyone – man or woman – who has been walked over, taken advantage of and hurt by someone close to them. It’s a song that says, I’m over you and I’m stronger than you ever thought I was.”

With the entertainment business at the crux of the Time’s Up movement, this message seems more pertinent than ever. “It’s definitely a song for this era. It’s about not letting anyone walk all over you. The tides are turning out there. Women have been speaking up a lot and now more men are coming forward as well, which is great,” Una adds.

“I think people might be expecting another laidback song from me but I wanted a track people could really party to and I like to mix things up. It also sounds amazing live and stripped back,” she explains.

Healy kicks off her largest solo tour on 15 June and has certainly come a long way since those first London gigs in Balham. Yet despite her success with The Saturdays and as a solo artist, her roots are still very much in the singer- songwriter genre. “I just love being on stage with my band and my guitar. I always have.”