Heather Small

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Heather Small
Small performing in Southport, Merseyside in July 2008
Small performing in Southport, Merseyside
in July 2008
Background information
Born (1965-01-20) 20 January 1965 (age 56)
OriginWest London, England[1]
GenresR&B, dance, house, soul
Occupation(s)Singer-songwriter, musician, actress
Years active1986–present
LabelsBMG (1987–2005)
Arista (2000-2002)
P&C Records (2006-2007)
Associated actsBlack Box, Hot House, M People

Heather Small (born 20 January 1965) is an English soul singer who was the lead singer of the band M People and later became a solo artist. Her debut solo album was Proud, released in 2000. She was also a contestant in the British television show Strictly Come Dancing in 2008.


1987–1998: Hot House and M People[edit]

Small, who grew up on a West London council estate,[2] joined her first group, Hot House, while she was still a teenager. She was the studio singer voice of the re-recorded version of UK number 1 single "Ride on Time" from Italo house band Black Box.[3] After a chance meeting with Manchester DJ Mike Pickering, formerly of Quando Quango, Small and her distinctive voice helped to sell over 10 million albums worldwide singing with the group M People. They had considerable success with songs such as "Moving On Up", "One Night In Heaven" and "Search for the Hero". Small has said that her major influence has been singer Elkie Brooks.[citation needed]

In 1997, Small performed on the "Perfect Day" record alongside a wide range of artists including Tom Jones and Lou Reed. The song was the official 1997 Children in Need charity release. It sold over a million copies and was the UK's number one single for three weeks, in two separate spells.[citation needed]

In 1998, after the release of M People's Best Of album, Small and the band took some time off to pursue solo projects.

2000–2005: Proud[edit]

In 2000, Small released her debut solo album Proud and a single of the same name, closely affiliated with the British Olympics team of the time. The single "Proud" was also used for the first season and the last chapter on the finale season of Queer as Folk. "Proud" is Small's signature song, with which she achieved international success. When Oprah Winfrey was looking for a song to sum up the work she'd been striving to achieve over her twenty-year career, she got in touch with Small and the song "Proud" became the theme song to The Oprah Winfrey Show, and in 2005 Small made her American television debut on the show. Then in 2005 the song became the theme song for the American reality weight loss show The Biggest Loser.

A further single, "Holding On", followed and in November 2000 a duet single with Tom Jones, called "You Need Love Like I Do" (which can also be found on the 1999 album Reload).

Small then took time off to look after her son and to start recording her second solo album. She was occasionally seen on various TV programmes as Parkinson and Songs of Praise. She also sang three songs at the Tsunami Relief Concert at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.[citation needed]

In 2005, a second M People greatest hits collection was released. Ultimate Collection featured both the biggest M People hits and two of Small's solo singles. Small's solo song "Proud" was re-released from this album and reached number 33 on the UK Singles Charts. M People reformed and played together on an arena tour during 2005; they have played a few dates each year since.

2006–2008: Close to a Miracle[edit]

Small released a new single, "Radio On" in the UK on 17 July 2006 and her second solo album, Close to a Miracle was released on 24 July, followed by a second single of the same name, which was released digitally on 25 September 2006 and included a previously unreleased track, "Changes". The album was a commercial disappointment, charting for one week at number 57 with both supporting singles charting outside the Top 100. A short UK solo tour which followed in the autumn of that year was received well.[4]

In 2007, Small collaborated with Icelandic tenor Garðar Thór Cortes on a song called "Luna". The song was released as a single from his album Cortes and reached number two in the Icelandic Charts.[citation needed] A new song was recorded to celebrate 200 years since the abolition of the slave trade, and Small performed at a concert in London to mark this anniversary on 10 November 2007.[5] On 26 May 2008 Small performed alongside Stereophonics and Feeder at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, as part of the celebrations of Wales's success at the 2008 Grand Slam.[6] In addition, Small performed three nights at Ronnie Scott's in October as part of her 2008 tour, and headlined at Manchester Pride.

On 24 August 2008 she performed at the Visa London 2012 Party to celebrate the handover as host city of the Olympic Games from Beijing, China, to London. Small sang "Proud" which was the unofficial anthem of Team GB at the Athens Games in 2004, and was the official anthem of the London 2012 Games. In December 2008, she again performed "Proud" on the 2008 BBC Sports Personality of the Year programme, as a soundtrack to a montage of British Olympian achievements at Beijing.[citation needed]

Late 2008: Strictly Come Dancing[edit]

In 2008 Small was one of the sixteen celebrities in the sixth series of BBC's Strictly Come Dancing, where she was partnered with newcomer Brian Fortuna. The couple were placed 9th overall in the series, and were in the bottom two on four occasions, in weeks 4, 5, 7 and 8. They were eventually voted off by the judges when beaten in the dance-off by Rachel Stevens. Small also appeared in an associated BBC Three series called "Dancing on Wheels".[7]

Week # Dance Judges' score Result
Horwood Phillips Goodman Tonioli Total
2 Salsa 5 6 8 7 26 Safe
4 Quickstep 6 5 6 6 23 Bottom Two/Saved
5 Samba 4 6 6 7 23 Bottom Two/Saved
6 Viennese Waltz 5 7 7 8 27 Safe
7 Cha-cha-cha 5 5 7 6 23 Bottom Two/Saved
8 Tango 6 7 7 7 27 Bottom Two/Eliminated


From late 2008 and throughout 2009, Small toured the UK. The setlist included Small's solo tracks, M People songs and some jazz covers.[8]

In the final quarter of 2009, Small's back catalogue sales increased by 73% as a result of frequent references to her hit single "Proud" on the BBC sitcom Miranda.[citation needed] She appeared in the Miranda Comic Relief special on 18 March 2011 and also in the series' last ever episode, performing "Proud".[citation needed]

It was announced in July 2010 that Small would take Chaka Khan's place alongside Anastacia and Lulu for the second Here Come the Girls. The tour took place across the UK during November and December 2010.[9] 20 October 2010, was rewarded with a BASCA Gold Badge Award in recognition of her unique contribution to music.[10]

In April 2011, Small performed as half time entertainment at London's Twickenham Stadium for the annual St. George's Day Premiership Rugby fixture hosted by London Wasps. Performing with educational events company 'Pro-Excel' Small, aptly performing "Proud" and "Search for The Hero" lead a backing dance troupe of 546 young people from schools around the UK and becoming the Guinness World Record Holder for 'The World's Biggest ever Backing Dance Troupe for a Popstar'.[citation needed]

On 29 October 2012 Small appeared at the 2012 Pride of Britain Awards singing "Proud" as a tribute to the athletes of the London 2012 Olympic Games.[citation needed]

Small performed at the post-parade party of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras in 2013, singing three songs, including "Proud".[citation needed]

2018: Celebration of 25 years in the music industry[edit]

Heather Small celebrated 25 years of singing in 2018. That year, she planned a tour to celebrate her music and that of M People,[11] and toured around the UK.[12][13]

Besides the tour, Small planned to release a new album, "Heather Small: Orchestral Greatest Hits" in May 2018,[14] but announced on 3 May that the project was cancelled.[15]

2019: Heather Small on tour[edit]

Heather Small was on tour from 10 April to 26 April 2019.

Charity work[edit]

Small is active in supporting several charities, such as "BeatBullying", the Aiden Cox Foundation, Mencap (for which she performed) and St Luke's Midnight Walk. She attended[when?] an anti-racism ceremony at 10 Downing Street for "Show Racism The Red Card", attended by Sporting Elite, the Prime Minister and others. Small works regularly with Barnardo's; she has also become an ambassador of Asthma UK, as she suffered from asthma as a child.[16]

Personal life[edit]

In the early 1990s Small lived in Standish, Greater Manchester, with her then-partner, rugby league player Shaun Edwards. They have one son.[citation needed]



Year Album details Peak chart positions Certifications
2000 Proud 12 81
2006 Close to a Miracle 57
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released.


Year Song Peak chart positions Album
2000 "Proud" 16 92 83 Proud
"Holding On" 58
"You Need Love Like I Do" (with Tom Jones) 24 100 56 Reload
2005 "Proud" (re-release) 33 Ultimate Collection
2006 "Radio On" 107 Close to a Miracle
"Close to a Miracle"
As featured artist
1997 "Perfect Day" (with various artists) 1 37 Non-album single
2007 "Luna" (with Garðar Thór Cortes) Cortes
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released.


  1. ^ "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?". Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?. 24 June 2014. Challenge.
  2. ^ "Heather Small - Biography". Heather Small - The Voice Of M People. Retrieved 23 March 2018.
  3. ^ "Black Box – Ride On Time (UK Remix) (CD) at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 9 April 2012.
  4. ^ Heather Small News Archived 18 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ [1][dead link]
  6. ^ "Heather Small [Voice of M People] - London, UK - Soul / R&B; / Disco House". Web.archive.org. 19 November 2008. Retrieved 19 August 2020.
  7. ^ Small appeared on The Weakest link Strictly Come Dancing Special. She was the 7th contestant voted off."The Press Association: Heather Small in Dancing On Wheels". Press Association. Retrieved 29 May 2009.
  8. ^ Stef (11 February 2009). "Heather Small Music". Heathersmall.blogspot.com. Retrieved 9 April 2012.
  9. ^ "Welcome to www.heathersmallmusic.com!". Web.archive.org. 11 March 2012. Retrieved 19 August 2020.
  10. ^ "Gold Badges For Heather Small, John Paul Jones". Billboard.com. 20 October 2010.
  11. ^ "Heather Small – The Voice of M People (rescheduled date)". Tyne Theatre & Opera House. Retrieved 23 January 2018.
  12. ^ "Heather Small 2018 Tour Announced". Heather Small: The Voice Of M People. Retrieved 23 January 2018.
  13. ^ "M People's Heather Small wows Dudley crowds during solo show - in pictures". Express & Star. Retrieved 13 February 2019.
  14. ^ "Heather Small: Orchestral Greatest Hits". PledgeMusic. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  15. ^ "Heather Small: Orchestral Greatest Hits project cancelled". PledgeMusic. Retrieved 13 February 2019.
  16. ^ [2][dead link]
  17. ^ a b Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 508. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  18. ^ a b "Discography Heather Small". Swisscharts.com. Archived from the original on 13 June 2011. Retrieved 16 November 2010.
  19. ^ "Chart Log UK: DJ S – The System Of Life". Zobbel.de. Retrieved 27 July 2012.
  20. ^ "Chartverfolgung / SMALL, HEATHER / Single". Musicline.de. Archived from the original on 9 October 2012. Retrieved 16 November 2010.

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