Queen of the Knight

This time last week I woke up still BUZZING from a fantastic night I had had the previous evening, at the famous Royal Albert Hall – where I  joined thousands of soul lovers for the London leg of  Beverley Knight’s (MBE)  Soul UK Tour, which correlates with the launch of her latest album of the same name.

Often dubbed the ‘Queen of UK Soul’ – I was really  not prepared for the outstanding level of pure, unadulterated talent that this beautiful woman possesses – she can really sing – like REALLY sing!  Her vocal range is magnificent and her pitch impeccable.  She truly deserves her title and she reigns supreme.

Born in Wolverhampton in 1973, to a Jamaican family, with Gospel music and Sam Cooke filling her home, Beverley burst onto the music scene in 1995 with her club classic debut, ” Flavour of the Old School”.

With over 17 years  worth of hits and 8 albums to date – Beverley and her incredible band took the audience on an explosive, melodic retrospective of British Soul –  which in her words does not “get the recognition it deserves”.   As well as performing some of her best known tracks such as ” Shoulda Coulda Woulda” and “Greatest Day“, she paid homage to some of the greats of  British Soul such as Soul II Soul and The Young Disciples (they wrote and sang ‘Apparently Nothing’ (…nothing apparently…you know that one,  don’t you!).

She also looked AMAZING!!  Numerous costume changes kept us entertained and enthralled – and she exuded the confidence of someone who is 100% at ease with her (enviably toned) body, which was really great to see!

"You looking at me"?? Like - YEAH - you look FANTASTIC!

In a recent interview in the autumn edition of  Blackhair magazine , Knight divulged that she worked hard to maintain her figure by working out and eating in moderation – no Diva-style cabbage diets here – just a good old common sense approach.

The same interview also discussed Beverley’s make-up brand ‘K’.  I can remember the buzz about the launch of her brand!!  Exclusive to the beauty mecca that is Selfridges – I was over the moon  to see a British brand being launched to meet the needs of  British women of colour.  Unfortunately the line met its demise earlier this year.

Knight states that “… [with] ventures that involve anything to do with black skin or beauty…there seems to be an issue either with marketing or distribution.  Like many others I came up against the same problem”.

The company that was behind the distribution of the brand was Jigsaw Esl.  A PR friend of mine recently regaled her experience with the the company.  She was not impressed with the communications team at Jigsaw Esl, stating her frustration at what seemed a lack of dedication to the brand.   She stated that she contacted the organisation on several occasions,  asking  for the official press release – but was pushed from pillar to post and received  nothing  in the end.  It seemed, to her at least, that Beverley’s brand was NOT on the top of their agenda in the slightest….

But it’s is not all doom and gloom, Beverley promised Blackhair magazine that the range would be back in 2012!!  I will be keeping my eye out for the re-launch and I wish Beverley all the success in the world!

Whilst you are waiting, you can buy UK Soul, by Beverley Knight here.

Out Now!

My Black is Beautiful Too

It’s been a while…

So much going on…but it’s all good!  Those of you that follow me on Twitter (that’s you right??) will have seen that I recently completed my number 10 speech  from the Competent Communicator manual – which leads to the first accreditation on can achieve as a member of  the global public speaking organisation that is Toastmasters International.

Being able to communicate and make your point heard is critical to ones success and apparently speaking in front of an audience is something people fear so much that it is trumped only by death itself!!  Your local Toastmasters club (there are over 13,000 clubs in 116 countries) is an ideal place  to develop your speaking skills and build your confidence.

I joined Toastmasters because I am as passionate about personal self development as I am about beauty – in fact I believe that the two go hand in hand – looking good on the outside plus feeling great on the inside does wonders for ones self esteem!  This was the topic I chose to speak about in my 10 minute speech which I entitled Beauty and  the Best.

I showcased the behemoth that the beauty industry is – according to the market research agency Euromoniter International it is estimated that it worth a staggering $350 billion US dollars a year (!) and how much I LOVE  the industry  – the glamour, the fantasy and its power to transform are just a few reasons for my adoration.

However,  sometimes I am plagued with a tension – because the tyranny of the beauty industry is that whilst it promotes style and well being, it generates the vast majority of its revenue from products that exist to remind the user of her supposed ‘ imperfections’.  “Youth”, “vitality”,” radiance”, “revitalise” – words such as these pepper the advertising copy of beauty brands and many of these adverts are heavily doctored and have undergone extensive airbrushing.

This Lancôme ad,  featuring the Oscar winning actress Julia Robert is now banned in the UK – the Advertising Standards Agency upheld complaints made by the  Liberal Democrat MP Jo Swinson that the images were overly airbrushed and did not reflect reality.

Irrespective of such challenges, the industry continues to be a source of delight and one of the reasons why we happily part with our hard earned cash to ameliorate our outer appearance seems to be linked to our self – esteem.

A study commissioned by the Cosmetics, Perfumery and Toiletries Association entitled the ‘Self-Esteem Society’ stated that of the people polled, an overwhelming 93% thought feeling confident about their appearance was an important factor in building self-esteem – and I certainly attest this finding–  as I have experienced firsthand the very tangible effect beauty products have on the self–esteem of myself and on that of others.

Whilst I advocate caring for ones outward appearance, I  sincerely believe that one’s inner beauty requires just as much – if not more –  meticulous attention.

We must learn to love and value ourselves and to appreciate our intrinsic and inherent qualities –the qualities that make us unique.

This notion is echoed by Proctor and Gamble (owners of brands such as Dove, Olay, Pantene and Max Factor) who launched the My Black is Beautiful movement in the US , in 1997.

The brand managers state that “My Black is Beautiful, celebrates the diverse collective beauty of African-American women and nurtures black self-esteem. The movement encourages black women to define and promote our own beauty standard — one that is an authentic reflection of our indomitable spirit.  Recognizing that beauty and self-confidence are intrinsically linked, My Black is Beautiful is designed to ignite black pride and support a sustained national conversation by, for and about black women — the way we are reflected in popular culture and how we serve as the catalyst for a movement that effects positive change”.

It is still very much an African-American program – it would be fabulous to see a similar initative launched to serve the UK and Ireland – because our Black is Beautiful too!!