Talented Beth Sherburn tells David Johns about her whirlwind rise from Brum shop assistant to pop princess, and the thrill of teaming up with rap megastar Lil Wayne
As far as whirlwinds go it doesn’t get much breezier than Beth Sherburn’s life these past two years. One minute the talented young musician from Dudley was working on the make-up counter in Debenhams, the next she was writing and recording her own songs and appearing on stage with some of the biggest names in the music business. Last month she launched her latest single, Joker, which sees her joined by US rap star Lil Wayne, and she’s also immersed working on a new album due out next year. “I still find it hard to take it all in,” she says. “Music was always something I wanted to do and I worked really hard to try and get into the business. Then it happened by complete accident, and now I just feel so lucky because I’m doing what I really love.”
That accident was the kind of break that every unknown musician dreams of – the kind that you hear and read about but never think actually happens in real life. “I was singing along to the shop music in the store – it was Michael Buble’s Christmas song, and this guy came up to me and said I had a great voice. Then he said he was a record producer.” He was John McLaughlin, the music supremo behind mega bands Busted, Girls Aloud and Take That. John was in Debenhams, Merry Hill buying a last-minute gift for his wife after attending a meeting in the city. “It really was a case of me being in the right place at the right time,” said Beth. He asked Beth to work with him in his studio and she has since also collaborated with songwriter Jud Mahoney who has worked with some of the world’s biggest stars including Michael Jackson. The top music men soon discovered there’s a lot more to Beth than just her voice. A classically trained pianist, she also plays a host of other instruments including guitar, clarinet and saxophone. But her great love is singing and song writing – her new single is one of the first she penned. “The style is urban pop, which is also what the album will be. Most of what I write is based on experiences in my life. Generally my music tends to starts with a lyric which pops into my head. This can happen anywhere, anytime – which is why I always carry around a Dictaphone in my bag. “When something comes into my head which might make a song, I start singing it – I get some really odd looks from people at times! Then I go home or to the studio and work out the chord structure of the song.” The 23-year-old admits she was fortunate growing up in a house where music was important. “My parents took me to piano lessons and my life just became all about music. I was inspired to play the piano and write songs by Alicia Keys, who I love. I entered loads of competitions, took part in local musicals and workshops and did all the things someone does to try and get in.” Beth attended Ellowes Hall School in Dudley and as a 14-year-old performed at Birmingham Rep Theatre with Matthew Kelley in Don Quixote. She was also part of a gospel choir which sang at the Royal Albert Hall with Katharine Jenkins and then won a national songwriting competition judged by Bee Gees legend Robin Gibb. But it wasn’t until Lady Luck intervened that Beth got her big break. A lucrative record deal soon followed and “life has been pretty manic ever since”, says Beth.
Her mum and dad, grandparents and one of her two sisters still live in Dudley and she makes sure she sees them as often as she can. “ I spend a lot of time in London now because in this business you have to. But I never forget my roots are in the Midlands.” A crazily busy schedule means Beth is dashing around the world, performing at dance venues and festivals in New York, Los Angeles, Ibiza and back here in the UK in London and Birmingham. Fresh from returning from her Joker video shoot in Ibiza, Beth has been appearing alongside names such as Cheryl Cole, Conor Maynard and Katy B. She says her dream is to sing with and write for her musical hero, Beyonce. “She is so amazing and such an inspiration. But more than anything I just want to carry on doing what I love and working really hard to achieve everything I can.”