Joan Armatrading fans take note – if you fancy a little Love And Affection, book early for her upcoming UK dates this autumn, as she says this will be her last major tour.

“The tours are very long,” the famously mellow-voiced singer-songwriter who grew up in Birmingham says.

“They can be four to seven days on, one day off and they last up to a year to 18 months.

“And I have been doing that for a long time – since 1972.

“I’m 63 now and I will be 65 when this tour is finished. I don’t want to be on tour for 18 months non-stop after this tour.

“I’m going to America, Canada, New Zealand and Japan – that’s what takes so long. I’ve been to every state in America and pretty well every city. And that’s just touring America.”

Put like that, it’s surprising she hasn’t made the decision before, I suggest.

“I wasn’t ready to do this before,” she insists.

“It’s great to see people jumping up when they hear the start of a particular song, but the travelling is very tiring.

“You are in a different city every day and, in America, you can be flying every day.”

Her legion of fans, who have been singing along to the likes of Drop The Pilot, Rosie, Willow, Me Myself I and, of course, her first big hit Love And Affection, need not despair. It doesn’t mean she’s retiring. Far from it.

“I will be writing songs right up until I’m on my deathbed,” she says. “As long as nothing happens to me, I will be writing.”

And recording?

“Of course. If I have written a song, I will want people to hear it.

“And it’s nice to think I will be able to do a couple of shows still. I don’t want not to perform again.”

As for this last tour, it will be completely different to anything she has done before.

“It’ll just be me, a couple of guitars and a piano on stage,” she reveals. “I have never done this before. It will be a whole new thing for me.

“I just thought it would be really nice. It will be a nice memory for me and I think it will be a nice memory for the audience as well.

“It will feel different. I am going for more intimacy. It’s just the two of us – me and the audience. That’s why I went for smaller venues.

“I like to interact with the audience. I like to talk to them and I like them to talk to me.”

One thing will be continued from her last tour – her support for local talent.

Back in 2012, she invited artists to send in demos and she personally picked 52 of them to open for her at her UK shows.

In Birmingham, it gave the chance for local R&B duo Jeiso And Platt, who up until then had been more used to playing to 50 or 100 people in a pub, to perform in front of thousands at Symphony Hall.

“I imagine those two guys from Birmingham will have passed Symphony Hall so many times, so to be able to play there is fantastic,” she enthuses.

About 20 or 30 of the original 52 will be invited to perform again this autumn.

“This time they will each get to play a couple of shows,” she reveals. “I thought that would be nice – to give them a bit of extra exposure.

“We need young artists to keep the music going and young artists want to have a career, so it’s nice that we can help each other.

“In 1975, I supported Supertramp. At that point I hadn’t played to such a big audience, but that Supertramp tour introduced me to a lot of people. It was great to be able to return that favour.”

It has been a long and distinguished career for the little girl who arrived in the Brookfield district of Birmingham from the Caribbean island of Antigua at the age of seven to join her parents who had made the move some four years before.

Three-time Grammy nominee and twice Brit nominee, she won an Ivor Novello Award for Outstanding Contemporary Song Collection in 1996 and was made an MBE in 2001. In 2006, her album Into The Blues brought her the distinction of becoming the first female to debut at No.1 on the US Billboard Blues Chart. Along the way, she has made 18 studio albums and being given numerous honorary degrees.

So, I ask her, what’s the highlight of your career?

“My BA Honours degree in history in 2001,” she answers, with barely a pause for thought. “That’s my highlight because I’m very proud of it and I worked very hard for it.

“I remember someone asking me the secret to getting a degree. I said, ‘The trick is you start and you finish’.

“I took all my exams while I was on tour. I would come back for my exams. The last day of my tour, I took my final exam. I was able to literally come off the plane, drive to the exam and take it.”

* Joan Armatrading will be performing at Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton, on October 26 and The Assembly in Leamington Spa on November 2. Tickets cost £32.45. For more details visit: www.joanarmatrading.com .