In her own voice

After 40 years Petula Clark still waiting for something special to happen
By Mindi St.Amand

Petula Clark

After releasing hits in the ‘60s, starring in films and singing on Broadway, British legend Petula Clark is still a modest and laidback lady. Now 72, Clark has new songs to offer her fans, and she’s been working with Andy Williams preparing for her show in Toronto this Sun. Nov. 6.

“I’ve been in a place named Brampton for seven weeks, working with Andy Williams. I love working with him he’s so great. He’s been doing his shows and I do mine, and then we do duets together,” Clark said from New York, after asking what the weather in Toronto is like.

Clark has been singing since her adolescent years, and admits she has never had voice lessons. She’s the product of true talent and was known as the Shirley Temple of Britain.

“I never had voice lessons because I find if you’re taught a certain way, you lose the quality that makes it your voice,” she explained. “One or two record producers have fooled around with my voice a little bit trying to make me sound different, but that’s never worked.”

The music business has changed since the 60s; Clark said she notices there’s a flood of pop music, but there’s also a genre out there for everyone.

“When I was in the ‘60s making hit records, there were people within the company who really seemed to genuinely like music. I’m not recording at the moment, so I honestly don’t know [how much the music industry has changed].”

At the Hummingbird Centre, Clark will be singing crowd favourites, plus new songs she has written, such as ‘Memphis’ (a beautiful piano piece) and ‘Driven By Emotion’ (a song about having true feelings).

Clark is considered to be the most successful British female recording artist to date, as she holds the record for having the longest span on the international pop charts when The Little Shoemaker made the UK Top Twenty from 1954 through to 2005.

Clark has accomplished much in her life, including being honoured by Queen Elizabeth II and made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire. Although Clark has won awards and been selected for the Music Hall of Fame, she still feels like she’s waiting for a “special thing” to happen. Besides being particularly proud of her children, she says it’s her own concerts that bring her emotions of self-pride.

“Sometimes it will be one night for instance, one show out of hundreds and I’ll come off the stage and say, ‘Now… that was good!’ But… it’s rare.”

She also tries to insist she’s just like anyone else in her daily life, however, she does not knit or crochet, like any other typical grandmother. She loves watching films, theatre, reading books and listening to music.

“The person who makes me sit up every time I hear him sing is Michael McDonald [of the Doobie Brothers],” she said. “It’s like Christmas when I hear that voice, I come out and I think, ‘Oh, this is unreal!’”

Another artist who Clark enjoys listening to is R&B artist Alicia Keys; Clark describes her as a beautiful and great person all-around.

Recently, Clark has been spending a lot of time travelling. She said one of her greatest hobbies is writing, as she always brings a journal with her on the plane. “I like to play around on the piano and I’m writing quite a lot of lyrics these days. I have a lot of time on airplanes, so I kind of scribble away and write things.”

Look for Clark to be reciting poetry, performing her pop classics and Broadway favourites at The Hummingbird Centre on Sunday, November 6 at 8 pm; for tickets visit or by phone (416) 872-2262