Brit Award-winning singer-songwriter Beverley Craven tells POLLY MANSER about life as a mum, her battle with breast cancer and, now that her children are teenagers, the relaunch of her career
YOU may not remember the name Beverley Craven, but if you are over the age of 25 you are sure to remember her biggest hit single. The beautiful ballad Promise Me (you'll wait for me...), was massive in 1991, and Beverley went on to have several other hits.
You may also remember her memorable performance at the 1992 Brits when she sang Promise Me while eight-and-a-half months pregnant with her first child.
She says now she would never have done it, had she known when she was booked months earlier, how hideous she would feel.
"I had water retention from my eyebrows down, and my feet had swollen so much that I had to wear my husband's slippers on stage - I couldn't get into anything else," she says.
In the mid-1990s, soon after her third child was born, Beverley turned her back on the music business and became a full-time mum.
"I'm hopeless at multi-tasking," she tells me over a coffee at Costa in Beaconsfield.
"I had a nanny, but I'd be sitting in the studio at home, with one ear out for the children, as you do, and it was just impossible."
In 2002, the family moved from Kilburn to Beaconsfield, where they still live, in search of a better quality of life and schools that their daughters - Mollie, then 12, Brenna and Connie, who were younger - could walk to.
"What every child deserves is to have a stable family life and for me that was the priority. There's nothing more important," says Beverley.
"And I had a dreadful education, at a bad comprehensive in Hertfordshire. I wanted them to have better."
But now that her daughters are older - Mollie is 17 and working in Abercrombie and Fitch in the West End, while Brenna, 14, and Connie, 12, have moved on to Beaconsfield High School - Beverley's mind has again turned to writing and performing.
"The children don't need me so much, the younger ones make their own way to school and I have my life back," she says.
Beverley has, after a decade away from the recording studio, written and recorded a new album, and has embarked on a tour, which includes a gig at the Beck Theatre, in Hayes, on Saturday. But this time she is approaching things very differently.
Instead of being signed to a record label - she was previously with Epic, who dropped her, very ungraciously she says, after her third album failed to sell - this time she is doing everything herself.
But not quite. She is being managed by her singer/songwriter husband Colin Campsie, whom she met at a Tears for Fears concert.
It was love at first sight for him. He declared there and then this was the girl he was going to marry.
She wrote the songs for her new album, Close to Home, at home at her piano while the children were at school, and recorded them with backing musicians she knows from her days in the charts.
For the video of her single, Rainbow, she enlisted the help of her nieces and nephews (Alfie, nine, Ernie, six, Finn, five, Greta, four, Casey, 12 and Sebastian, 12) who feature in it, carrying props and playing instruments.
She now has a stock of thousands of CDs in her garage, 25 tour dates the length and breadth of the UK, a stash of new clothes and a newly toned figure.
She was always slim but admits to power walking with her dog rather more in recent months, and looks fantastic for 25, never mind 45. But this time, she is not aiming for the charts. This time, it is not about recognition or money.
"By the time I've paid for the driver and the musicians and so on, the ticket sales will just about cover it," she admits.
"I've been booking myself into Travelodges. It's not about the money. Looking at the chart today, I don't see my songs in it."
There is another reason why she is doing this now. In 2004, Beverley was diagnosed with breast cancer.
For years it was the last thing she thought about at night, but she has been free of it for five years and the thought of it no longer dominates her life.
She says: "After an experience like that, it's given me a renewed enthusiasm, it's put the urgency back into my life.
"Before it happened I think I was quite happy to plod into middle age, but now I feel life is short, I want to do this, because it is what I love doing."
* To check ticket availability for Beverley Craven at the Beck, in Grange Road, on Saturday, call the box office on 020 8561 8371 or visit www.becktheatre.org.uk.