What can people expect from the new album?
It’s still pop but it’s a soulful departure. It’s more like the stuff I grew up on. The previous records were more pop-rock and this is more like the singers who inspired me growing up. It’s the album I wanted to make since I was 13. It’s inspired by female singers with a powerful presence, from Aretha Franklin to Annie Lennox, En Vogue, TLC, Bonnie Raitt, Rosemary Clooney, Whitney and Mariah.
What is the meaning of life?
I haven’t figured it out! We called the album that because the title track was the first to be written for it, which in turn signalled a departure from previous records. It’s also a statement about how I feel right now. There’s something to loving your personal life and also your work life, and being able to choose who I work with after my American Idol contract finished. It feels like a new chapter.
What happened with your previous deal?
They had things in mind for what they wanted me to sing and there was a lot of compromise on my part. I tried my best with every project and I made things I could be proud of when I’m singing it at 60. But I worked with people I didn’t necessarily want to work with. We were successful but success doesn’t necessarily equal happiness. This album is a very different sound to what people have heard before. So this a great move for me. For people to invest in you as a person makes quite a difference.
Were you recording singles you didn’t like?
No. I wrote several of them. It started off not great because I wanted to go soulful pop but they already had female singers on their label making them money in that area, so I was their pop-rock singer. Luckily I like pop-rock but 15 years of one sound can get a bit old. I made the best of it but, at the end of the day, it didn’t make me happy.
How many songs have you written on this album?
Not that many — four. My main objective was to focus on it as a singer. I got tired of people coming to my shows and at every meet-and-greet saying: ‘You’re a much better singer live than on your album.’ So I wanted to make a musical footprint with this sound and do something that really challenged me vocally.
How has the music industry changed since you started?
People are trying to navigate the fact that it’s not as profitable as it used to be and how that works with streaming. It’s ever-changing. It’s nice to be with a team that doesn’t fear that.
How has motherhood changed you?
My give-a-s*** factor has gone — not that there was a strong presence of that to begin with. You just don’t have any more time for nonsense. I could maybe entertain doing certain things to try to be nice before but we have four children. Making sure each one of them feels loved and supported means I’m still definitely a workhorse but I’ve made a change of pace. I told the new record label boss I will work my ass off but don’t want to be an absent parent — and she respected that. It doesn’t mean I work less, it means I work more productively. Time management is key in any industry but crucial if you are a mum.
Does being married to your manager help?
Definitely. Who’s going to take care of me better than my husband? Because if he doesn’t, he’s going to pay for it after hours! He’s a great fit for me. We debate quite a bit. He’s more from the business world, I’m more from the creative world, but that’s good — I like people with brains and opinions. It’s been good for me. He challenges me and I push him as well.
So you’re in favour of workplace romances?
I’m in favour of love wherever you find it — find it and keep it. It’s hard enough, especially for females — there’s not enough men to go round, percentage-wise. So when you find love, latch on to it.
What are your musical ambitions?
I’ve always wanted to do Broadway but my family wouldn’t want to live in New York. I grew up doing musical theatre. I started in Annie Get Your Gun but got lead roles in Seven Brides For Seven Brothers and Brigadoon. I’m a huge Barbra Streisand fan and I’d love to do Funny Girl as well.
Meaning Of Life is out now