Beverley Knight: bringing festival vibes to Surrey

Beverley Knight: bringing festival vibes to Surrey

The singer talks about coming to Kew the Music, keeping in shape for her high-energy performances, and the new generation of artists who inspire her…

Image (c) Julian Broad

Beverley Knight is no stranger to festival season. The 51-year-old singer-songwriter has an abundance of festivals and headline credits under her belt at this stage in her impressive career. She might be forgiven for finding it all a bit tiresome by now, but for Beverley there’s something special about playing festivals that ensures it never gets old.

“It’s the chance to connect with people directly who are not necessarily always your audience,” she explains. “It’s finding new folk to have a commonality with. It’s discovery – finding your tribe, but also finding other tribes that you didn’t think you may vibe with.”

“It’s such a great thing that we have in this country. We have a plethora of different festivals, and they all have something slightly different to offer.”

She herself loves the discovery that comes with festivals. She first discovered the band The Fielding at V Festival many years ago, of whom she is still a fan to this day.

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Beverley is headlining Kew the Music on the 13th of July. She last headlined there in 2019, a time she remembers fondly, having performed with Billy Ocean.

And she’s excited to go back. “It’s a lovely setting. The crucial thing about doing Kew is that this is an audience who are there because they’re already invested in what you do, and they may bring others with them to come and join the party. So I know we’re going to have a wonderful, welcoming atmosphere.”

She hopes that people who are new to what she does are ready for the characteristic energy she brings to performances. “It’s energy all the way, and if it’s sunny, it’s even more energetic!”

There’s a lot of work that goes into keeping herself ready to bring such energy. She cites the most important thing to keeping her voice and body operating at its best level on tour as hydration. And sleep, of course. She drinks nutrient-dense juice to ensure her health is in top shape in order to go on stage and perform to the best of her ability.

Beverley has often cited gospel music, as well as Aretha Franklin and Sam Cooke, as the biggest influences on her growing up, shaping her relationship to music and the development of her own sound. But as for current artists she admires and who continue to inspire her, she gives special mention to Raye.

“When I first heard Raye’s ‘Twenty First Century Blues’ I thought, musically, this isn’t what I do, because it’s very heavily jazz influenced. But I recognise greatness when I hear it. Watching her rise to such heights of what this industry can do has been absolutely inspirational. When I see her smashing it, that encourages me greatly.”

She has an ever-growing list of artists she admires and would love to work with one day. She shouts out Missy Elliott, Calvin Harris and John Legend as artists she would love to collaborate with in the future.

As for dream projects to pursue? “I’d be interested in developing new things. I like telling stories, and there are so many stories to tell. The idea of originating something from scratch, building it and then presenting it to the public really appeals to me.”

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As a storyteller, she is also drawn to the stage. Last year she won an Olivier Award for her performance as Emmeline Pankhurst in the acclaimed play Sylvia. She says she’s hugely grateful to be recognised for such a prestigious accolade, and the growing public appreciation for her acting roles.

“I come from music, as most people of my generation know, but what I hadn’t perhaps appreciated was that there are the younger Millenials and Generation Z who see me as a singer-actress. To have an award that recognises that duality in my career is so tremendous.”

She likes the way acting allows her to flex her storytelling muscles in a slightly different way to music. “What I love about theatre is stepping into somebody else’s skin. It’s a world away from me expressing my own thoughts and feelings. I ama musician to my absolute core, but I love doing both.”

Speaking of music, she loves discovering what’s new. A long-time resident of London, there are a vast array of places she goes to hear live music. She lists Dingwalls in Camden and Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club – which recently paid a special visit to the Rose Theatre in Kingston.

“Grassroots venues are so important – there are so many areas whereby you can discover up and coming talent.”

She shouts out Shocka, a young rapper she discovered at the Scala in King’s Cross who explores his mental health through his music. This is a topic Beverley is personally passionate about. Her husband James runs a series of men’s mental health retreats, which Beverley is eager to discuss. “My husband’s retreats are about giving men the space and the tools with which to navigate their way through life. In this modern age, I think a lot of men try to meet an expectation which is often out of reach.”

We leave on a sunny note – it’s a warm day, and Beverley is enjoying her glass of nutrient-dense juice. She’s got festival season ahead, and she’s preparing to bring the energy.

Beverley Knight will play Kew the Music 2024 on Saturday 13th July, tickets available at