Charity angel Natasha Bedingfield on 'changing the world' and her upcoming album
13 NOVEMBER 2013
British singer/songwriter Natasha Bedingfield will be headlining this Friday's Global Angels Awards at London's Roudhouse, where she will be joined on stage by X Factor judge Nicole Scherzinger and other artists including her younger sister Nikola.
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The star-studded event has been organised by Natasha's New Zealand-born mother Molly, founder of the Global Angels charity, which uses donated funds to help break the cycle of poverty on all continents and to transform communities worldwide.
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As an ambassador, Natasha has flown back especially from her home in California, where she lives with her businessman husband Matt Robinson, to show her support. While Natasha is famed for her debut album, Unwritten, which earned her a Grammy Award nomination, it was her brother Daniel that first brought the Bedingfield family name into the public eye with his hit track Gotta Get Thru This.
Speaking to HELLO! Online, the British-born star, who last year was ranked No 66 on the list of 100 Greatest Women in Music, talks about changing the world, her latest "soulful" album and what really broke her heart.
How much of an inspiration has your mum been to you?
"My mum's always had a lot of dreams for me. I don't think anyone ever knew that Global Angels would be as big as it was for us, for me and my brother Daniel. But I do know that growing up, it wasn't an option to not change the world. We were brought up believing that we could actually make the world a better place. And that's because of her."
Why did she decide to set up Global Angels in 2004?
"She's just always been very much about other people. She's done a lot of social work, counselling, and wants to bring about change in a very grassroots way. My mum's a very passionate person and has always encouraged me to direct my focus outside of myself and not just on what I need and what's going on in my life. I feel like she really took parenting seriously so I feel very lucky. She's a good mum. She started the charity and I've been a supporter of it from the beginning. I love it because it has the promise that every penny that the public gives goes directly to the on-the-ground projects. Global Angels really raises the bar in terms of what a charity does and it covers so many areas."
Have you visited any of the charity's on-the-ground projects?
"I went to India, to Mumbai and Calcutta a few years ago. I visited some homes where they rescue underage girls from brothels who have got smuggled into sex, prostitution, and I met some of the girls. They told me their stories and that was life-changing for me."
What story moved you the most?
"The story that really broke my heart was about a girl whose family actually sold her into sexual slavery. These guys from an organisation went undercover and raided the brothel and the girl was later rescued. And there was another girl who was in love with this young guy. It turned out that the guy actually worked for the brothel and was trying to get girls to fall in love with him so that he could trick them. It's just horrific to think that your first love sells you into slavery."
Do you plan to go on more trips abroad?
"I'd absolutely love to go back to do more charity work. India really has a special place in my heart. I recently met A.R. Rahman – he's one of the biggest producers and songwriters from there and I've been working with him a bit. I think when you go to other countries it really expands your world. I'd love to go to Africa. Maybe next year, I'll go with mum. She always has trips lined up so I'll have to get on one of them."
Are you looking forward to headlining the Global Angels Awards?
"I think it's going to be fantastic. I headlined the awards two years ago. It's going to be so fun and I love The Roundhouse. I'm going to perform a lot of songs that people know me for, and some covers. I'll be performing with other artists too. My sister's going to come on stage with me – she's a really good artist. We're best friends. She's younger than me and it's very natural for us to do music together."
How is your latest album coming along?
"I'm finishing it right now. I've written the songs and I'm just in the final stages of producing them. I'm hoping to release the album as soon as it's finished. It always takes a bit longer than you hope. I keep writing extra songs – I just can't help it. I'm very prolific. Once I get into the writing mode, I keep going and I can't really stop. Hopefully it'll be ready by summertime next year."
Where do you get your inspiration for your music?
"I just get my inspiration from life, from emotions and conversations. It's like I put an antenna up and listen to the airwaves of society – what's going on, what people are feeling, what culture is saying. There was one moment when I was in an orphanage in India, and I had to do an interview. And I was being asked what the most I'd spent on something was and what my favourite product and designer was. It was a bit of a culture shock because there I was, surrounded by people who had nothing, boasting about spending a lot of money. It just put everything into perspective when you realise that that stuff isn't important but as a society we make it important. So maybe that influenced my last album, Strip Me. It was very much about less is more. That was my theme back then – being more uncluttered."
Have you got a theme for this upcoming album?
"I do. I have a really great concept and I'm really excited about it. I can't really say what it is yet but I'm writing all my songs around this concept. It's very different from my other albums and very soulful. It's going to take the listener on a journey."
Did you fly back especially for the Awards?
"I did, but I'm also just spending more time here because I really miss home. I miss being in England – the food, the people, the fashion. I think I'll finish my album here. It's perfect for my music because it's great changing location. I always feel inspired here. Maybe it's just a different air or something or just being at home – it's where you're from, it's your territory, it feels like you own the music more."