Why I’m loving The Voice: Sally Barker, joint runner-up in 2014

Sally Barker
Sally Barker

Sally Barker has toured with Bob Dylan and Robert Plant and heads folk supergroup The Poozies.

For her young fans, she has become famous for her achievement as joint runner-up on television competition The Voice in 2014 and charting with her cover of Olly Murs hit Dear Darlin’.

She is currently going back to her roots to play in folk clubs and pubs around the Midlands.

Feature writer Gay Bolton caught up with her ahead of her concert at Chesterfield Library Lecture Theatre on Friday, February 13:

Are you watching The Voice this year?

I have been watching the Voice and thoroughly enjoying it as I know what goes on backstage!

How have the past few months been for you since your success on The Voice? What have you been doing and what have been the highlights?

The Voice re-ignited my solo career. Many people bought my back catalogue of original material on digital download and CD and vinyl (you can listen on Spotify). Although sales have since slowed down, my music continues to sell, enabling me to get back to gigging live.

I was offered a record deal by Universal after the Voice. There was a condition and that was that I recorded an album of covers for quick release (that would have been a September 2014 release). I declined this offer to continue working on my original material.

I toured the UK in the Autumn of last year, playing in 200-300 seater venues. My 2003 folk album of original songs ‘Maid in England’ was re-released. This was repackaged to include my re-recorded versions of ‘Dear Darlin’ and ‘To Love Somebody’ (2 of the songs I sang on The Voice).

I continue to be in demand for live gigs and I’m continuing to write and record new material for a new album with a projected release later in 2015.

How has prime-time TV exposure changed your life? Did you expect to get as far as you did on The Voice? Were you bitterly disappointed not to win the competition?

While the programme was on and in the months after it I found it a little disconcerting when I was recognised in the street but mostly people just wanted to give me a hug so that was fine. I didn’t expect to get as far as I did on the programme and just enjoyed the whole process. I kept telling myself that the next performance could be my last so I tried to take it all in but also concentrate on giving the best performance that I could at that time. I was delighted for Jermain when he won. The odds were on either me or Christina to win so it was a real surprise when Jermain’s name was called out. Wil i am ran on stage and gave me a big hug!

You did some live shows with Sir Tom Jones last year. Where were these and how did it feel to perform on the same bill as him away from the glare of the TV cameras but live in front of thousands of fans?

I supported Sir Tom at three outdoor concerts last summer. These were at Northants Cricket, the Larmer Tree Festival and Colwyn Bay. I am used to doing big gigs so I just enjoyed it and wasn’t really nervous. I took a band with me so that I wasn’t standing on stage with just me and my guitar. I know everyone says it but Tom is a legend and is such an amazing performer. His voice has not dimmed with age.

Your latest tour seems to take you full circle, returning to the pubs and folk clubs of the Midlands. Have you ever performed in Chesterfield before and if so, when was that and where and what can you remember about it?

I think I may have played in Chesterfield before but it was in the 80s and I can’t remember where! The next few months are about getting back to my roots and re-connecting with old fans and playing my own songs to new fans.

What you will be performing on this tour? Will Dear Darlin’ feature in the set list?

Mostly my own songs from my six solo albums but there will be a sprinkling of Voice songs! I can’t get away without singing Dear Darlin’ so that will definitely be on the set list.

Which do you prefer playing? Small intimate clubs to a handful of people or big arenas to thousands of fans - are there benefits and disadvantages to both and if so, what are they?

I love the smaller venues. I’m not a big fan of arena gigs and don’t go to many myself (unless I’m taking my kids to a gig they want to go to).

I understand that you have a new solo album coming out this year? When do you start recording that and when will it be out - do you have a title for it yet?

As yet, there isn’t a title or release date.

Do you have any other projects lined up for 2015?

There’s a couple of things in the pipeline but I can’t talk about them yet!

l Sally headlines the monthly concert staged by Chesterfield Folk Club at Chesterfield Library. Tickets for Friday’s show cost £15. Contact www.chesterfieldfolkclub.org