Hello it's me...Helen
Being a successful Adele tribute act can end up taking you all over the world as Charlotte Pearson discovers.
Most stories that start with someone walking into a pub don’t end with that person coming out having signed up to do an Adele tribute show.
“I had been thinking about doing a tribute but I always thought it had to be someone who had died,” explains professional singer Helen Ward-Jackson.
“I was first asked by the landlord if I did a tribute, and I said I was thinking about it, he asked who and Adele just popped out.”
From this point Helen had to build a website and start work on her new act.
“When I started there were only about two other (Adele) tribute acts,” revels Helen.
“I didn’t realise you could do a tribute to someone who was still alive but the more shows I did the more I saw there was a need for an Adele tribute.”
Helen is quick to point out, however, that she ‘emulates the singer’s work’ rather than copies her.
“I mix it up a bit,” she says. “I can do half the show as Adele and then other half as me.
“I like to perform different songs and genres, what Adele does can be quite dreary so I add that comedic element in between songs as well to liven it up a bit.
“I’m thinking of changing the name from The Adele Tribute Show to ‘Someone Like Me’, I just want to say to people ‘hello it’s me rather than Adele’.”
Another reason for not copying the Grammy and Academy Award winning singer is down to the voice.
“I dress like her but since she had the vocal surgery her voice is quite raspy and low,” reveals Helen, “it would really damage my voice if I tried to sing in the same way as she does now. I hit the big notes but the ones I know I can.”
Although she has always been a keen performer Helen didn’t go to drama school until she was 26.
Her career has seen her perform at Hard Rock Cafe in Dubai, visit various countries around the world on a cruise ship and she has performed in Mamma Mia.
But she will always call Eastbourne home and she recently performed as Adele at the bandstand in the seaside town.
“They only sold 100 tickets before the gig but 700 or so people turned up and bought on the door it made me realise that people would come and see me perform,” she recalls.
“I did a show in January at the Hippodrome and it was a great success so I thought why not do one in December, it is a great way for people to see how I have got on.”
With Adele’s back catalogue covering three albums (19, 21, 25) there is a wealth of material for Helen to perform and she says she was thrilled when the latest album was released.
But does the 37-year-old have any favourite songs?
“I love doing One and Only and Someone Like You is great as I feel so many people can relate to it,” she says.
“Also Skyfall and Rumour Has It are great to belt out.
“I do get people asking for quite obscure songs though. I think it is their way of showing me what a big fan of her they are so I have done Love Song by The Cure which she covered and the album track I Found a Boy which released as a bonus track on 21.”
The singer also reveals that she once nearly met Adele.
“I was on a cruise ship and got a call from the BBC about a tribute show they were doing with Graham Norton (called Adele at the BBC) and would I be interested in taking part but I was away,” says Helen.
“In it they had a number of tribute acts. They had changed Adele’s appearance and called her Jenny, it was a hidden camera section with the grand reveal at the end.
“I was gutted when I came back and saw it, I would love to meet her I think we would get on.”
With Adele hanging up her touring hat for a while here in the UK Eastbourne’s Helen is the next best thing.
Helen will be performing the Original Adele Tribute Show on Saturday, December 10, at the Royal Hippodrome Theatre in Eastbourne. For tickets call the box office on 01323 80 20 20 or visit www.royalhippodrome.com Or for more information about Helen, visit www.adeletributeshow.com
This featured in the December edition of etc, to see more stories like this visit etcmag.net