ONE of the UK’s most respected singer-songwriters, Charlie Dore, whose 1994 track Pilot of the Airwaves is a perennial radio favourite, will be at Ludlow Assembly Rooms on Friday, April 19.

She is best-known for her music, but Charlie has enjoyed a varied career, all in the performing arts, and initially focused on acting, though that wasn’t the original plan: “For about ten minutes when I was really little I toyed with the idea of being a ballet dancer, but I had a huge growth spurt when I was about 13 and grew too tall.”

Growing too tall may have put paid to her dancing career but it would later provide the catalyst for one of her songs, Big Boned Girl, which appears on her 2011 album, Cheapskate Lullabyes.

“One of my ambitions,” she says, “is to get The Unthanks to do a version of the song.

“After ballet, it was going to be acting but because my mum and both my grannies played the piano – my mum played in a dance band called The Tetherdown Night Owls – there was a lot of music in my life.

“I first started writing songs when I was about 13 or 14 but my mum died when I was 15, so, although she heard some early songs, she never really knew I took it up – I often wonder what she would have thought.”

Having set out on the road to an acting career, Charlie’s first job was as an actor musician: “I was in rep in Newcastle and I got the job because I could play the guitar,” she said. “That was when I met up with Julian Littman and Karl Johnson and we all started playing together and it kind of grew from there. My first gig was at a creperie in London’s Westbourne Grove,” she recalled. “It was my first professional gig and it started because a guitarist friend asked me to take over his spot. I didn’t have enought material so I roped in a load of other people – Karl’s brother, Stuart, played the banjo and dobro. We were given Monday nights and it soon became a very busy night Cheapskate Lullabyes also includes the track, Fifty Pound Father. “It’s a very personal song,” she reveals. “About going to see a therapist, initially because I had a fear of motorways. “For years I got panic attacks if I had to drive on them. But I had to book months in advance to see somebody about it and in the meantime, my father and brother had died so the sessions for some time were about losing my family in a short space of time, “ she said, explaining the genesis of the song. “I don’t know if the song helps, and I don’t know if I was writing it as a healing thing, but of course songs are informed by my own experience, often heavily disguised.

Charlie not only writes for herself, but for other artists, including Celine Dion, Hayley Westenra and Lisa Stansfield, not to mention Jimmy Nail with whom she wrote the chart-topping Ain’t No Doubt.

“There are three routes to getting songs recorded by others, she explains. “There’s the old fashioned route where a songwriter’s publisher pitches a song to an artist - that’s happened on a few occasions.

“The other process is where you actually write specifically to a brief, which will involve the publisher asking for something that’s like Beyonce meets Justin Timberlake meets Gotye”

“And then the other way is when you write with an artist and they are in the room with you – my job then is to be like a ghost writer. It has to sound like it’s from them and personal. Ain’t No Doubt was like that. I had to come up with a melody line and a lyric. I wondered if it would work if he spoke it ...”

Then there’s Pilot of the Airwaves. “The song is a blessing and a curse,” says Charlie. “I still like the song and I love doing it with choirs, which is part of the reason I started hooking up with choirs in the first place (The Got2Sing choir will join her for her Ludlow appearance). It’s brought to life with a lot of voices.

“My only complaint is when people only listen to that song and don’t listen to the new stuff. It’s one song and it was a long time ago. It was a record of it’s time, pure 80s. There’s been a huge body of work since.”

Charlie has also written scores for film and TV, including for the BBC’s Two Thousand Acres of Sky. “I really enjoy doing that, and would love to do more. You’re given a brief and there are just two criteria - does it tell the story and does it sound good?”

It was she says the beginning of what she calls her second recording career, having spent many years writing for others and not for herself: “I was inspired and encouraged to write tunes about things that appealed to me.

“All I want from this,” she declares, “is just to be able to make a living at it and carry on until I fall over!”

Charlie is at Ludlow Assembly Rooms on Friday, April 19 at 7.30pm. To book, call the box office on 01584 878141

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