We all have our guilty music pleasures - these are mine

Stephen Foster Katherine Jenkins

Foz with Katherine Jenkins after her show on Ipswich’s Christchurch Park - Credit: Nigel Pickover

In his latest On Air in Suffolk column, broadcaster Stephen Foster tells of some of his guilty music pleasures.

If you’re as passionate about music as I am then chances are you’ll have a few guilty pleasures. I’m referring to uncool singers or groups who, say it quietly, I really enjoy listening to. I have a list that grows longer as I get older. Right at the top of that list is American crooner Perry Como.

I blame, or maybe I should thank, the landlord of an Ipswich pub for this. Back in the mid-1970s me and a few friends used to frequent the lounge of the Elm Tavern in Spring Road straight after our Friday evening activities at the nearby 3rd Ipswich Boys Brigade.

Every week without fail the Perry Como album And I Love You So and Diana Ross’s Greatest Hits would be on strict rotation on the pub’s eight track cartridge machine behind the bar. Before long I knew every song on both albums but it was Mr Como who shaded it with an easy style which he managed to make sound effortless.

A more recent guilty pleasure of mine is the mezzo-soprano Katherine Jenkins. It’s fair to say I caught the bug when I emcee’d a show of hers on Ipswich’s Christchurch Park in the summer of 2011.

After thanking opening act Wynne Evans, the face and voice of the Go Compare TV commercials, I invited members of the audience to come up and hand me any dedications they’d like me to read out before the star attraction began her show.

This horrified the lady herself as, unbeknown to me, reading out messages from her ardent followers was an important part of what she was about to do. As I returned to the backstage area - feeling very pleased with myself - I was invited into her dressing room and very politely put in my place. Katherine couldn’t have been nicer about it all. I’d never intended to steal her thunder, besides her dress would have been far too small for me.

I made a point of catching up with the Welsh superstar after the show and congratulated her on a great performance. Little did I know then that our paths would cross again in 2017, this time at the Latitude Festival.

A few days earlier she’d joined me on my Drivetime show to preview what turned out to be a spectacular appearance. On a beautiful Sunday lunchtime Katherine sang Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah as she was punted across the river at Henham Park to take to the stage.

Katherine Jenkins Latitude

Katherine Jenkins chatting to Foz live on BBC Radio Suffolk at Latitude - Credit: Cleah Hetherington

As she stepped out of the boat to the rapturous applause of the thousands who’d gathered to see her it really did feel like a royal visit. At the end of her set I described the scene to listeners to my BBC Radio Suffolk show. As Katherine made her way towards me I managed to grab a quick interview with her which went out live. Once again, she was her usual lovely self and was more than happy to stop and chat.

I’ve done more interviews with her since and unlike some of her peers she is always friendly and helpful which, believe me, makes my job a lot easier. Katherine is a consummate professional and has become one of my favourite guests down the years. I’m also a big fan of her singing. I bet that’ll come as a big surprise to many but then don’t we all have our guilty pleasures?

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