Los Angeles-based singer Beth Hart brings her rock, blues and gospel-inspired material to Portsmouth for a date at the Pyramids Centre on Tuesday, March 12.
When she was just four years old, Beth realised that music was her destiny. “There was this commercial for pianos on TV,” she recalls, “and the music was Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, which was the most beautiful thing I’d ever heard.
“So in the middle of the night, I got up and played part of that song on the piano. My mother, father and all the other kids came out and gave me so much love and attention, the ham in me knew right away that this was what I wanted to do. I just knew…
“I never thought I’d be a singer. I thought I’d be a classical pianist or cellist, go to Juilliard. When I did start singing, I took opera lessons and my teacher was wonderful, but one day she said, ‘Beth, I don’t think classical is for you, because you like to do your own thing with the music.’ And she was right.”
Beth’s formative musical tastes were eclectic, taking in jazz, rock, blues, gospel and grunge. “Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald: I’m fascinated by them,” she says, “but then when I heard Robert Plant and Chris Cornell, I couldn’t get over their power. But then, Rickie Lee Jones and James Taylor, their voices were so lovely and soft…”
A national win on Star Search, a forerunner to American Idol and The Voice, gigging around LA and a lot of pounding the pavement by her manager, eventually led to Jason Flom and David Foster who jointly signed her to Lava/143/Atlantic Records. Beth worked with top producers on 1996’s Immortal, and scored international hits with cuts like Am I The One, but today, she contends it was on 1999’s Screamin’ For My Supper– home to the smash-hit LA Song (Out Of This Town) – that she found her voice.
“If I could have my way,” she says, “I’d love it if people bought my new album and Screamin’ For My Supper simultaneously, because I think that record is where I became a real writer.”