Birmingham singer Ruby Turner talks babies, boyfriends, TV talent shows and Amy Winehouse with Graham Young.
As a fixture on the British R&B scene for almost three decades, Ruby Turner knows a thing or two about picking the perfect musical partner.
Bryan Ferry, Mick Jagger, Stevie Winwood and, most enduringly, Jools Holland have all been in her corner.
And as Solihull-based Ruby prepares to play the Bromsgrove Artrix on Saturday, there’s only one thing missing from her star-spangled life.
And that’s a child of her own. She feels the music has always got in the way.
But the 53-year-old is still in the happiest of places.
Ruby’s an endearingly enthusiastic warrior of the open road who enjoys stopping off here and there and then making sure she puts the show – and the soul – into showbusiness.
Like when she was centre stage on Monday night for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee concert, singing solo (with Jools Holland) and then appearing on stage with the Queen at the end.
Born in Jamaica’s Montego Bay on June 22, 1958, Ruby’s family moved her to Birmingham when she was nine.
While her telephone engineer father Jocelyn today lives in New York, mum Violetta still lives just off Handsworth’s Soho Road and goes to the local Pentecostal church every Sunday.
Ruby sees it as her job now to look after her.
“I’ve never used bad language in front of her and I don’t disrespect her,” she says.
“I take care of my mum and make sure she has everything she needs.”
Talking of the course her own life has taken, Ruby says: “I just want to love someone. End of. And for someone to love me, for just being me.
“That has to happen naturally. People have to find their own way.
“I’m cool. My days of dancing round handbags are gone, baby!
“I’ve done that, giving it large at The Belfry.
“They were great days, but you’ve just got to grow up.
“It would have been wonderful (to have had children) but it never happened and I accept that.
“It’s okay. I have enough nieces and nephews, godchildren and friends.”
With 14 albums under her belt and the rare distinction of being a British artist and songwriter who has topped the American R&B charts with It’s Gonna Be Alright, Ruby has come a long way since her early days learning the art of touring with Culture Club.
Her stage shows have included A Streetcar Named Desire, Fame and the Olivier Awards-nominated Simply Heavenly, as well taking part in a Donmar Warehouse series called Divas At the Donmar.
On TV, she’s been in everything from Doctors to EastEnders and from Little Britain to Judge John Deed, as well as having a role in the hit film Love Actually.
She describes the BBC’s new talent show The Voice as ‘‘old school’’ which was ‘‘quite exciting’’ at the beginning but which turned into another version of X Factor.
“That can’t be helped,” says Ruby.
“That’s just the way it is now. Here’s the winner, the album, the single, the tour and... goodbye.’’
She adds: “I’m still experiencing life. I can still walk down the street.
“I can live a normal life and do the job I love, too. I’m still discovering new things and it’s great.”
By the same token...
“Life on the road is not easy, all that work you have got to put in to keep your career going.
“But I’m happy because I’m still alive and that’s something to celebrate.”
Sadly, Amy Winehouse, a talent whose star burned quickly and brightly and who once appeared to be so innocent on Jools Holland’s show, is not.
And that deely saddens Ruby.
“Suddenly, none of it makes any sense,” she sighs.
“I thought we were past the days when people took stuff.
“We all know the pitfalls by now because enough casualties have littered the highways and byways.
“I was naive in my early years and maybe that was a blessing in disguise.
“It didn’t cross my mind to try stuff.
“What I wanted to do was music. That was it.
“Lose it or abuse it. It’s up to you. You have the choice.
“Whether it’s taking vitamin C, eating well or resting, I know what I have to do to keep on the road.”
As a woman singer in the limelight, Ruby could dress any which way she wanted.
But designer dresses have no appeal.
“What’s that got to do with a song?” she says. “If I knew a frock would help me to sing better, I’d put it on. End of.”
Similarly, she wonders how people will be able to afford to pay £175 to see Madonna in concert at the NIA this August.
“How can that (price) be right when people are having to trim their budgets?” she asks.
“These players are killing the industry. Let’s face it, who are they serving here?
“There should be a cap, because there’s a lot of money in this business.
“I would never command that sort of money, let’s be realistic!
“I’m just a humble servant, that’s who I am.
“To work with someone like Jools Holland is a privilege and an honour but nothing is given to anybody for free.
“Without this gift I have been given (to sing), we wouldn’t be having this conversation.”