Holliday time in Delph for Patti

FOR those of a certain age, New Faces was the X Factor talent show of its generation.

Lenny Henry, Jim Davidson and Les Dennis all enjoyed their first break on the prime-time show.


Patti Boulaye

But only Patti Boulaye achieved maximum marks in its six-year run.

In doing so she also survived double-trouble judges Tony Hatch and Mickie Most, who made Simon Cowell look like a pussycat.

But Patti, now 65, questions her ability to make the same impression on the current crop of trial by TV talent shows.

“I am not sure I could have survived,” admits Patti, a veritable force of nature at the age of 63.

“They seem to be a test of endurance.”

Patti, more recently seen on television as one of the celebrities in the first series of the Real Marigold Hotel, knows a thing or three about endurance.

Wife, mum, singer, actress, charity worker, author and university lecturer, she has packed a lot into life after fleeing her native Nigeria at the height of the Biafran war as a 16-year-old.

Now, after more than 30 years, Patti is back touring with a one-woman show dedicated to the life and music of Billie Holliday including a concert at Delph’s Millgate Arts Centre on Sunday, April 29.

“I have been performing but I haven’t toured since the 90s,” she told the Independent. “So, it will be nerve-wracking.

“You kind of expect people to know who you are. But will there be anyone there apart from a man and his dog? she laughed.


After 30 years, Patti is back touring with a show dedicated to the life and music of Billie Holliday

Patti had already appeared on the West End stage in the cast of musical Hair when she enjoyed her big break through New Faces.

She sought the advice of then boyfriend, now husband, Stephen Komlosi about how to maximise her success.

“I said to Stephen ‘how do I make this my job rather than disappear without trace’?

“He told me I could have a hit record and not know what happens next. Or I could become a household name.

“For that you have to invest by learning your trade, by playing all the clubs and really building your career.

“I am so glad I took the second choice because I love communicating with an audience.

“I’ve been asked in the past how I want to be introduced And I always says ‘as an entertainer; someone who gives public service. Isn’t that what we do?’

“Your job is to help people forget about their lives for a couple of hours. That’s public service,” added Patti, who was awarded the OBE in 2016 for her services to charity.

And it was Stephen’s input that proved the catalyst for Patti’s first tour since starring as Carmen in the theatre production of Carmen Jones.

“I was writing the story of my life (called ‘Faith of a Child’) when Stephen mentioned about the similarities between my early life and that of Billie Holliday.

“I started looking into it and the more I looked the angrier I got with the choices she made.

“It’s down to the choices you make. Ella Fitzgerald had a bad early life too but she went on what I call the light side and Billie went on the dark side.

“I love her songs and some of the songs explain my life.

“There’s a mix from numbers by Bessie Smith, Alberta Hunter and Etta James but mostly those by Billie.”


For more information Patti’s Delph show go online to: www.saddleworthlive.com/what-s-on/patti-boulaye-billie-me/

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