- 03 Dec 09
Interviewed in the latest issue of Hot Press, out on Thursday December 3, Dublin singer Imelda May reveals why she sneaked a note under the door of Diana Ross’s dressing room...
For the full interview, see the bumper Christmas issue of Hot Press, in shops now!
In it, Imelda also describes the highs and lows of growing up in the Liberties area of Dublin.
As the blues singer explains in Hot Press, she can still vividly recall buying the Lady Sings The Blues soundtrack album in HMV for her 15th birthday. Later, as a musician, she played support to Diana Ross.“We were told not to look her in the eye, so I wrote a little note and shoved it under the door. It just said, ‘You doing that movie changed me life, so thanks for that’. I don’t know if she ever got it.”
A performer almost from birth, May remembers her earliest singing memories. “When I was four me big one was ‘The Red Red Robin’. I even had a dance to go with it! In The Liberties Music and Drama Group, we sang things like Showboat. We all got our twenty pence or fifty pence a week and we would buy our bag of chips on the way home.”
May, whose real name is Imelda Clabby, also recalls the downside of life growing up in what was an embattled community.
“You’d be going up the stairs,” she tells Hot Press, “and you’d be literally stepping over people lying there with needles up their arms. You knew their mother and their father would be absolutely heartbroken. Some of them had lost two, three sons already and this was the fourth one about to go. They used to have meetings where they’d invite somebody who was really heavily addicted, and invite their mother down, and have a one-to-one with the mother and them and the whole area trying to convince them not to hurt their mother.
“And that’s why I’m so proud of being from the Liberties, that’s why the Liberties means so much to me, because they all really pulled together like no area I’ve ever heard of or seen before… Like I said, it wasn’t judgemental, friends of mine that I went to school with had an awful, awful hard time and I grew up with them and they were good people, great parents, great families, it was just a really, really tough time, if you went down the wrong route. Unfortunately if it was the hard stuff, you were done for.”
She herself helped dish out food to the needy. “But people used to only come at night time to get it. They wouldn’t come in the daytime because they were embarrassed to be seen,” she tells Hot Press.
Success was late coming for the Dublin singer, whose album Love Tatoo has been 44 weeks in the Irish charts.
“I’ve worked at everything,” she says. “I’ve worked in garages, worked in the launderette for a year, washing people’s smelly socks and clothes – I nearly set fire to the place once with the dryers.”
Imelda also talk about her love for her musician husband Darrel Higham and the possibility of starting a family.
“I would like to start a family,” she admits, “but, ah sure, me mother had me when she was almost 40 so hopefully I’ll have a bit of time left in me! It’d be a shame to give it up now when it’s only starting to go well. Like I said, we were struggling for ages and now that it’s taken off you’d go mad if you said, ‘Alright, let’s pack it in no’…”