Lulu chats with Kevin Cooper about her fondness for Nottingham, Tina Turner having a massive hit with her song I Don’t Wanna Fight, the release of her new album together with her forthcoming UK tour.


Lulu Kennedy-Cairns OBE, better known by her stage name Lulu, is a Scottish singer, actress, and television personality who has been successful in the entertainment business since the 1960’s. She is internationally identified with the song To Sir, With Love from the film of the same name and with the title song to the James Bond film The Man With The Golden Gun. In Europe, she is also widely known for her Eurovision Song Contest winning entry Boom Bang-a-Bang and in the UK for her first hit Shout, which was also performed at the closing ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

Now preparing for her first tour in ten years, she took time out from her busy schedule to have a chat with Kevin Cooper. This is what she had to say.


Hi Lulu how are you?

I’m great Kevin thanks for asking. I’m sorry that we are running late but I had to eat and I left it late. That’s the truth of the matter (hysterical laughter).

That’s not a problem at all. It’s just great that I finally get to speak to you.

It’s my pleasure Kevin. I’m very excited about the whole thing. Before I had my lunch I was feeling tired and not feeling the whole thing but then of course I had my lunch and now I am feeling better (laughter). I am really excited about the tour and I am feeling re-energised by the whole thing.

So how is life treating you at this moment in time?

To be honest with you Kevin I don’t know if I have ever been as happy as I am now. I have been happy but as with every human being I have also had my share of ups and downs; been thrown from pillar to post, disappointments together with great moments of success, but consistently at this point I am feeling a lot of gratitude for what I have, and I feel like I have angels on my shoulders because I can’t believe that I am even making an album. Record Companies are not really interested in giving old farts like me a record deal (laughter).

I’ve also got two grandchildren so that’s fantastic. Women always get broody but as you get older you can’t possibly have your own children, together with the fact that it would be far too exhausting to have two young children around so I have got the best of both worlds.

The great thing is that I am still doing the job that I love because I have always loved to sing.   My family all came into the world singing and I am sure that we will all go out singing (laughter). That has encapsulated me completely. So Kevin, what have I got to complain about at this moment in time (laughter). Don’t get me wrong, I can be Mrs Grumpy at the spin of a dime but on the whole I am good.

You have mentioned the forthcoming tour and it’s obvious that you are excited about it so why has it taken you ten years to get back out on the road on your own?

Who the hell knows Kevin (laughter). Many years ago I thought that I had done enough tours around this country and that the people knew enough about me, so who cares if I tour or not. I did a couple of tours with Jools Holland which I personally thought were much more interesting. It was fun to be a guest of someone and the band are cool, and Jool’s is cool. Then for a couple of years I didn’t tour, although I always sang. I always did gigs but I decided not to tour. It was during that period that I came up with the idea of “Here Come The Girls” which I did with Chaka Khan, Anastacia and Miss Heather Small, and that kept us on the road for a couple of years. It wasn’t easy to get that tour together and plan it, but it went very well and I really enjoyed the experience. After that I thought that I would be able to put my feet up and have a rest (laughter).

Then I was over in New York last year and I did some gigs there in clubs. I was really enjoying playing gigs in blues clubs which were more about the music and not about what I looked like. They were not about what I was going to wear when I went on, you know. I just wore something simple with my hair under a hat. They were about the band, the music and everybody loving that. So the clubs seemed to be the better venues for that, and whilst I was playing at B.B.Kings Blues Club in New York, so many people were asking me when I was going to be touring again, and it was at that moment that I thought that maybe I should get back out onto the road and tour once again. So in answer to your question Kevin, it has simply taken that long to get everything together.

What can you tell us about your new album?

Well Kevin, whilst I was getting the tour organised, somebody came to me with the idea for an album. It was so enticing in the way that they put it to me that I thought that it would be a great idea. However, in the meantime everything has changed (hysterical laughter). Once we started the album, it was about songs that are not quite as old as me but also not totally modern. There were songs which I personally found inspiring, but that has now completely changed (laughter). I felt that I had to write a couple of songs and the amazing thing is that they have been pouring out of me which has been both tiring and energizing. So it is turning into an album of mostly new songs but with a couple of special maybe not expected songs that I would not normally do.

There are a lot of kids out there that I love. For instance if I listen to Calvin Harris, who is mainly a dance artist, I hear in the melodies of his songs that he has been influenced by the same style of music that I was influenced by. If you listen to Calvin’s voice on Summer, his voice and vocals on the record is totally influenced by Larry Graham who was Sly Stone’s bass player. I recently went to see Bruno Marrs in concert because I love his records, and the whole evening was like a Motown Revue. If you listen to Sam Smith or Jessie J I totally love what they do, that is what I love Kevin. So whilst I am not writing a dance album, I am writing an album that has been influenced by rock, pop, R&B type of music. And that is where my voice sits Kevin, so I am re-energised and excited on that level too.

On the subject of writing, how did it feel when Tina Turner recorded I Don’t Wanna Fight which you had written with your brother Billy Lawrie and Steve DuBerry?

Well Kevin I was as happy as a clown (hysterical laughter). I wrote that song Kevin about the break-up of my marriage. It was very cathartic, very painful, very dark, and a heavy time for me. When there is a divorce coming, nobody wins in a situation like that. Funnily enough, on the new album, we are going to do it as a bonus track but I now do it as a duet where there are now two people singing about the situation, just as was the situation with me and my ex-husband. Sade heard the song and took it to Tina because Tina was looking for a song. She hadn’t had a hit record in America for about eight years and this was a massive hit for her, so it was fabulous (laughter). To have Tina Turner sing a song of yours is just an incredible feat. I would say that I have got angels on my shoulders and that was one of the times when I was definitely aware of that fact.

I have to say that from a personal point of view, I am still waiting for you to do a Motown covers album.

Well that’s the thing about right now Kevin. So many people are doing covers. I have previously done some myself, and that’s why I thought that I really shouldn’t be doing any at this moment and that is why the album has changed so much (laughter). A couple of the new songs were sounding quite good so we continued and that’s when we thought that perhaps the album shouldn’t be too much about covers. Some of the stuff won’t be Motown but it will be in the vein of what those songs were; Black American music influenced by the blues and rock ‘n’ roll which of course has all been influenced by Gospel. Its pop and I like pop music but with the flavour of Ray Charles, Motown, Sly And The Family Stone and all of that stuff; it’s just great. I just live for music really.

Do you have a release date yet for the album?

No not yet Kevin but it will coincide with the tour, which is in May, which makes sense of course.

And do you have a title for the album as yet?

No not yet (laughter). Sometimes you come up with a title and then change it so we have decided not to decide upon a title. Let’s just wait and see what comes up until we absolutely have to decide. I have been working with a lot of young musicians which has really been invigorating and that is what makes the album sound modern, because they don’t sound old. It’s ok to be influenced by that older stuff but you can’t be doing vintage when you are vintage Kevin, do you know what I mean (hysterical laughter).

So what has influenced Lulu?

Whilst I have never really been a huge Folk fan, I love most types of music. I have never really managed to get into Heavy Metal but you give me something that is rock ‘n’ roll with a bluesy, soulful melody, and I am there. Look at Sam Smith; he is so in that area, and I love what he is doing. I love what Sam is doing together with Calvin (Harris) and they are all so bloody young (laughter) but we all like the same music. But I can remember when I met David Bowie we also liked the same music, even though it appeared that we were from different worlds but we loved the same music.

So what can we expect for the tour?

Well Kevin, I will only do a couple of songs from the new album. I will not do the whole album. That is so boring going to see any act do a new album from start to finish. So I will do a couple of new songs but the rest of the show will be songs that the audience will know. I want to hear people leaving saying that they had a great night at the Lulu show. That’s what I want to hear Kevin. That’s how I want to feel when I go to a gig. I am so bloody lucky to still be able to do this at my age. By the time that the tour comes around I will be 66 years old and if you had said to me when I was a teenager that I would be doing this now, I would just have said “shut up, there is no way that I will be touring, writing and recording an album when I am 66 years old” (laughter). I have a lot of gratitude and I am very excited.

You have had a long and successful career in music, won many awards, stared in the hit movie To Sir, With Love alongside Sidney Poitier, had a number 1 record with Take That with a cover of Dan Hartman’s Relight My Fire, recently closed the Commonwealth Games, so what would you say has been the highlight of your career so far?

Like you say Kevin, there are so many. There are so many that I could reel them off the top of my head without even thinking. I was lucky enough to work with The Beatles, and I had a hit record with Shout in the 60’s. To be part of that, well nothing tops that, nothing. After that, as you have mentioned, I went on to do the film To Sir, With Love with Sidney Poitier, and I had a number 1 in America with the title song from the film. What tops that Kevin, the film and the song (laughter). Even more recently I was on American Idol singing live to an audience of 34 million people, which was amazing. I recorded The Man Who Sold The World with David Bowie all those years ago and sang a duet with Elton (John); I have sung with Sting and (Paul) McCartney. Even Wynonna Judd recorded a song that I wrote. That’s unbelievable too, my mum used to love Country music. Wynonna Judd is a huge star in America. So those are all things that were unbelievable. Then as you said I had a Number 1 with Take That, you can’t forget that either (laughter); to come back from the dead almost.

I thought that the song just suited you and the boys so well.

At first Kevin I have to tell you, I actually thought that it was a ridiculous idea for me to sing with a little boy band (hysterical laughter). But then when they asked me if I knew the song from back in the 70’s I said yes and anyway, the rest is history (laughter).

I know that time is very tight when you are on tour but have you had the chance to have a look around Nottingham?

I have been to Nottingham so many times Kevin. I have seen Nottingham and enjoy being in Nottingham, it’s such a fabulous place. But when you are on tour its absolutely true, you don’t have the opportunity to see anything. You get in, do your sound check, do your make-up, do your vocal warm-up, you are on stage, and when you have finished you are tired. Despite that you have to meet people and then try to get some sleep because you are once again on the move the next day. Even when it is a day-off you still have to move.

Being a proud Scot, how did it feel when Andy Murray finally won Wimbledon?

I love Andy Murray, I love him, I love him, that’s all I want to say (laughter).

Thank you for taking the time to speak to me and I will see you in Nottingham in May.

Well then, I will meet you at the show and I hope that you enjoy it Kevin. God bless honey, bye.