“If I do, I will just burst with excitement!” says Lesley. It will be her first concert since March last year.
“It just seems like an absolute age, the longest time I have ever gone without performing. As a child, we were always around the piano singing. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t singing. It is my life’s blood. For me, singing is my connection with my soul really. It is how I stay emotionally healthy, and not to have that possibility has been extremely difficult.
“I have tried the best I can to keep going, things like when we had Clap for Carers I would start a singsong going. My husband is a doctor, and we would have songs like You’ll Never Walk Alone and We’ll Meet Again. But I don’t know how I coped really because singing is the way that I keep in touch with my inner self.
“I am patron of Lost Chord (an innovative charity dedicated to improving the quality of life and well-being of those living with dementia using interactive musical stimuli to increase their general awareness and self-esteem), a charity that supports Alzheimer’s patients and young musicians. We were able to keep that going online.
“It was just about finding opportunities, and I am naturally a very optimistic human being. Your glass is either half full or half empty. I have just always felt that my glass just isn’t big enough, to be quite frank! So my agent and I have been in contact regularly talking about ways to get back.”
The pandemic meant that Lesley missed out on a special tour to mark her 40 years as a professional. As much as possible, she is reviving the dates this year, going out as the Shot In The Arm tour, determined to use music as healing, but determined too to have great fun and plenty of laughs along the way.
“I am going to be so excited. And maybe also a little bit nervous. It has been such a long time that I haven’t done it. I know that the performing gene is always there, but it has never been tested like that before.
“But I know it is going to be such a relief to see faces in front of me because performance is about changing the way people are feeling and thinking.
“There are two aspects to performing really. You have to have the ability first and foremost whether you are a comedian or a musician. But you have also got to have that need to move people and to have an effect and to make a connection with them. It is all about communication. If you don’t have that need, then you will never be a performer. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t standing on a box trying to entertain people. It comes down to that physical thrill of creating a sound with your own body and a sound that has an effect on somebody else. It is a very holistic experience, a very powerful experience when you create that sound and hopefully that sound is also a very powerful experience for the onlooker who interracts with that sound.”
Of course music is fun. It is also uplifting. But it is also healing: “That’s a hugely important part of why we need culture to open up. And music actually reaches places that other art forms can’t reach. When words are not enough, it is music that takes the audience one step further. You have only got to look at the way that music flourishes in war-time when we are all trying to cope with huge emotions. It is without doubt the way that we most readily access those feelings, and those feelings need to be expressed, especially when you think about those feelings that the pandemic has generated, not just as individuals but also as a community – which is why we came together for Clap For Carers. Feelings that are shared are feelings that are coped with, you hope.”