This photograph of me with my mate Sir Cliff Richard and Peter Kay is courtesy of Cliff as we were on tour at the time.
When I see it I think, ‘It’s my babies!’
I’ve known Cliff for years, off and on, as we’ve worked at functions together.
A year prior to this photograph being taken, we were at a function and he was telling me that he was doing an album, a duet collection with soul legends.
He said some names from Motown and Stax and I said, ‘Cliff, if you want me to do backing vocals or anything like that darlin’, call me.’
And because I’m always looking for work, he said, ‘Don’t worry, I will.’
Anyway, a year or so later his album Soulicious was released, which had been produced by the legendary Lamont Dozier.
He’s one of the writers of Motown and part of the Holland-Dozier-Holland writing and producing trio.
In my career, I’ve had the opportunity to work with lots and lots of wonderful people – I got to meet people like Freda Payne, Percy Sledge and James Ingram.
Then Cliff said, ‘You’re coming out with me’, so I was one of the guest vocalists on Sir Cliff’s tour. One night we were backstage after a gig – in Birmingham, I think – and he said, ‘Come here, Jaki.’
We went into his dressing room and Peter Kay was there.
Now, I’ve loved Peter Kay for the longest time, from the Phoenix Nights era right through to Car Share.
Cliff took me by the hand because he really is very nurturing and I’ve known him for so, so long and he introduced me to Peter Kay, Peter Kay’s mum and his wife. As soon as I walked in, Peter shouted [adopts Peter Kay accent], “Jaki Graham! Round And Around.”
That Northern accent. That was a wonderful evening.
Sir Cliff’s family was there, too, so there was a lot of us.
To be able to hang out with these people was just amazing.
Peter was in Manchester performing. He’d done umpteen dates and it was coming up to the last one.
So he said to come up and visit, so we went up to Manchester to hang out with him again.
He was just lovely.
With Cliff, our paths are always crossing and we always say we’ll do something and we never got round to it.
So when the Soulicious tour came up and as at one point in my career I was signed to Motown, it all seemed to make sense.
Plus in the 90s I recorded Freda Payne’s hit Band Of Gold.
And now I’ve gone back to my roots.
My album When A Woman Loves is back to what people know me for – more soulful.
I’m kind of nervous about it – well to tell you the truth, I’m really nervous – but I’m so excited too.
I’m still trying to do my thing.
And the youngsters now are growing up loving all the 80s stuff.
I’m doing shows and it’s the younger generation that’s there. I’m going, ‘Aw bless you, have you come to see your auntie Jaki? Because all this stuff was out before you were even born.’”