By Duncan Eaton

IT is a smash hit show which tells the story of American soul legend Etta James and it is heading back to Hampshire.

Eastleigh’s Concorde Club will again be the stage for At Last: The Etta James Story on Sunday September 23, starring the sensational voice of Vika Bull and The Essential R & B Band.

It is one of more than 20 dates in an autumn tour which will bring Etta’s timeless hits to audiences across the UK.

James's powerful, deep, earthy voice bridged the gap between rhythm and blues and rock and roll.

During a long and tumultuous career that saw her win six Grammy Awards and star on The Hollywood Walk Of Fame, Etta James influenced a vast array of artists from Diana Ross, Janis Joplin, Stevie Wonder, The Rolling Stones and Rod Stewart.

She is acknowledged as inspiring the careers of a new generation of singers from Christina Aguilera, Joss Stone, Adele and the late Amy Winehouse.

Following its world premiere in Melbourne in 2013 The Etta James Story has packed theatres throughout Australia and New Zealand.

Telling the story of soul legend Etta James’ turbulent life, it showcases some of her most beloved songs including Tell Mama, Something’s Got A Hold On Me, Sugar On The Floor, the heart rending I’d Rather Go Blind and her iconic signature song At Last and More.

Ahead of the Concorde gig Vika, who has just returned from a tour of Australia, spoke to Duncan Eaton who asked her –

Q:How many times have you performed the Etta James Story and do you ever tire of the role

A: I have been performing At Last The Etta James story since February 2013 and I never tire of the role because I consider Etta one of The Greats and everyone should hear her songs and know her story because she was one hell of a woman!

Q:How many countries has the show been to and what was it like to perform at the Sydney Opera House

A: The show has toured Australia extensively and been to New Zealand and the UK once. To perform at The Sydney Opera House is an honour. Walking to work everyday is a joy.

Q: How do you prepare for each show

A: I do not speak until around 4pm and then I start warming up my voice. I like to have dinner around this time too. It is quite a demanding show vocally so the more rest I can get the better.

Q: How do you make sure that your voice is kept in top form for what is a very commanding singing role.

A: Don’t smoke, no alcohol, drink plenty of water especially the day before a show, vocal warm up before the show, vocal cool down after the show.

Q: If you had not been a singer what other profession do you think you would have pursued.

A: There was no other option. I wanted to be a singer the minute I could speak.

Q: What do you think of talent shows like the X Factor

A: I love them especially the audition part.

Q: Would you like to appear in a reality show and if so which one

A: The Osbournes, I love The Osbournes.

Q: Would you like to take part in Strictly Come Dancing

A: No.

Q: Would you like to portray the role of any other singer and what would be your favourite one

A: No, Etta is enough.

Q: You have a busy life on stage but do you ever get to watch other performers and shows

A: Yes, I do a lot of festivals and get to see a lot of bands which is very exciting and interesting.

Q: Away from the stage how do you relax

A: I sleep and swim.

Q: What type of venues do you enjoy playing at

A: Festivals and concert halls.

Q: Are you looking forward to returning to The Concorde

A: Of course I am a lucky gal!

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