Beverley Knight is everywhere at the moment.
Switch on the TV and she?s popping up on morning music shows such as cd:uk ? and there she is at night expressing frank political views on current affairs programmes such as This Week.
She?s regularly heard belting out her latest top 20 single over the airwaves and is also presenting a BBC Radio 2 series on Gospel music.
Emma Pinch talks to the 33-year-old soul/pop/R ?n? B diva from Wolverhampton about shoes, Black Country carveries, and teenage embarrassment...
How is it we?re seeing so much of you at the moment, Beverley?
There comes a period every so often there?s an artist you just see everywhere, usually because of a promotion thing. I?ve got a single (Keep This Fire Burning) and a tour and its important I put in the work.
With me, it?s that I?m interested in so many different things, like politics. What I enjoyed a lot was going on This Week, being a political chat show. People haven?t seen me in that light so much, that was nice going on there.
What does Affirmation, the title of your new album, refer to?
For me it?s about me trying to move forward, but positively. Just before I wrote it was a period of my life where nothing felt positive, everything felt negative. My best friend had died and I couldn?t deal with it. I didn?t know how to.
It was only when I got to grips with writing this album that I felt positive again. Every single song felt like a positive statement of intent. When I wrote the track Affirmation, I thought that?s what it should be called.
What do you get up to when you are living back in Wolverhampton?
Mainly I stay at home with my family because I don?t get to see them enough. Sometimes I go down to Beatties with my sister, you might see me skulking down there!
?I quite like Diffusion in Merry Hill, it?s called a designer store but its not Harvey Nichols, or anything like that. They have the D&G label of Dolce and Gabbana ? they?re still the affordable end of designer. I pop in there and get basics. I like that little store. It?s very nice.
Favourite place to eat and drink?
Usually my mum does all the cooking. I?ll go to the Newbridge for something to eat. You know when you want to do that whole pub/carvery thing? The Newbridge, down on the Tettenhall Road.
You?re becoming well-known for your love of shoes ? more than 300 pairs at the last count. When did you buy the last pair?
Three hours ago! I bought some from Office which were tan brown, antique brown really. They?ve got a wooden sole and a wooden heel, very summery. I walked past and I had to have them. I was in Covent Garden, walking along merrily, about to get into the car.
My eye just went left and my brain went: ?Stop. Stop the press!?. They were only #9.99. Not even expensive. And I was thinking ?Ha ha, that means I can buy more!?
What?s been your most embarrassing moment?
It still makes me tingle, remembering it. It was a production of Joseph and his Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat. I was the narrator, the biggest singing part. I?m very short-sighted, and I was 15 and really vain, and I didn?t want to wear glasses on stage. I had to appear at the top of the stairs constructed on stage and walk down them singing.
The house lights go on and I go to put my foot on the stairs and I stood on my trousers. I was too blind to see and put my other foot out and slipped all the way down the stairs. The whole school was there.
I was in the fifth year and all the first years were at the front, watching. They howled! But you know what? I still stood up and sang. The shame would have killed me otherwise. The moral is wear glasses and shut up. Don?t mess about.
Mariah Carey has hit the headlines demanding red carpets and white candles at all hours because she doesn?t ?do? pavements. What?s been your most diva-ish moment?
You?d have to ask other people in the band to dish the dirt. But I?m not really that way inclined. In the dressing room there is one thing I have to have to feel comfortable ? a kettle to have my tea. I need my kettle off stage because the first thing I do is switch on the kettle.
Your mobile must be stuffed with numbers of the rich and famous. Who are the biggest stars in there?
You know that is a complete fallacy. Yes, there are people that I know from working with ? Roni Size, Estelle, Skin?s a good mate. The most recent star ? she called me and I didn?t know she had my number ? was Geri Halliwell. I was working on a charity thing and she called me to thank me for being a part of it. I knew the voice right away. She just said ?hi this is Geri? and it was.
The one that did kill me ? someone extremely famous, and I?ve never spoken to him since ? was when the phone rang and I said ?hieey?, and it was ?hi baby, this is Elton?.
He rang to congratulate me about my album and on this piece I?d written in The Independent about my friend who passed away. He said it was incredibly moving. He was really lovely.
When did you last cry?
The morning of my birthday (March 22). I was unwrapping all the presents my boyfriend had got me and I was really overwhelmed by the thought that had gone into it. I was like ?oh, wow!?. There was one thing he got me, a beautiful ethnicky necklace. Just beautiful. I wore it to the Capital awards. I had to wear that immediately.
Who are you most in awe of?
When I met Nelson Mandela, I thought ?I am in the presence of a truly great man, a truly great man?, and I was struck dumb. I was really blown away.
And also when I met Prince. I really didn?t know what to say to him. He has always been my idol from when I was young, and there he was talking about music to me. I gave him a hug, a really big hug. Then I did talk to my hero about music. It was incredible.
How does your lifestyle now compare with your Wolverhampton days?
What people see is one-tenth of what actually goes on. There?s a whole lot of work behind the scenes. You have to keep earthy and grounded. I come from very humble beginnings and I?m not that far from them. My life looks good but it is an image that is created to look that way. The reality is that I?m still a girl from Wolverhampton. That?s the reality.
What would you like your epitaph to be?
Despite everything, she still did what she wanted to do.