Getting to know Lesley Garrett CBE

On 10 and 14 May Lesley Garrett CBE presented the BBC Radio 4 Appeal on behalf of Help Musicians UK. You can still listen online and donate. Not only is Lesley an ambassador for us, but she also has a personal connection with us too after we helped her through a dark period in her life.

At the beginning of Lesley’s career she was struck down by a serious illness. After spending weeks in hospital undergoing treatment she found that she was unable to sing. This was devastating for a young musician and resulted in Lesley having to cancel all bookings and had no idea if she would ever work again. We helped her get back on track, getting her the right treatment and gave her the time to make a full recovery and rediscover her voice.

Get to know Lesley in 60 seconds.

Where is home?

Home for me is two places really, South Yorkshire and North London. 

What is your earliest memory?

Singing in the privy, outside toilet.

What is your favourite meal?

French daube (beef stew) and a good red wine – preferably in France.

Who would you invite to a dinner party and why?

That’s a hard one. There are so many fabulously contrasting possibilities. I’d invite Mozart and Mick Jagger – I’m sure they’d have a lot in common. I love cricket so Geoff Boycott and W G Grace would be there and then to make the party complete, Maggie Smith and Celia Imrie……the list is endless!

What was the last album you brought?

It was Handel’s Concerti Grossi with Trevor Pinnock and his orchestra. It’s just wonderful.

Who is your hero?

That would have to be heroes and mine are my mum and dad and Lord Harewood who gave me a break at the English National Opera.

What’s the last play or concert you went to?

I went to hear a DvoΕ™ák opera called The Jacobin at the Buxton Festival in July. It was brilliant, absolutely brilliant.

What has been your musical highlight so far?

I’d say singing Elle in Poulenc’s La Voix Humaine last year for Opera North. It was a 45 minutes monologue that covered a woman’s complete emotional breakdown to the point of suicide and it was the biggest challenge of my life. Another big highlight for me was singing Mother Abbess in the Sound of Music at the London Palladium. I love musical theatre.

What are you proudest moments?

My son and daughter and staying married for 23 years. My two children, Jeremy and Chloe are both studying at Sheffield University, and together with my husband Peter, they mean more to me than words can say.

What is your guilty pleasure?

I don’t really do guilt.

At the moment you are…….

Renovating my Yorkshire cottage big time, including establishing a garden. I’ve always wanted to create a fabulous garden!

 Also read the interview in our Autumn 2014 magazine

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