Charlotte Church: ‘I thought I was going to pass out on The Masked Singer’ | Pop and rock

Of all the songs you sing, which one touches you the most? 25 Aubrey
When I was little and did the classic stuff it would have been My Lagan Love – a beautiful Irish sky – or a Welsh song Mae Hiraeth Yn y Mor [“there is longing in the sea”]. I don’t crave my pop stuff, but the EPs had a lot of relevance. The song Nerve is really emotionally hardcore. In Pop Dungeon [Church’s live covers show]the one that hits me is Robyn’s With Every Heartbeat, which is such a thin song but packed with pathos, meaning and glory.

You worked with Eg White, Corinne Bailey Rae, Guy Chambers, Marcella Detroit and Rob Davis on 2005’s Tissues and Issues. What was it like working with such a great cast on your first contemporary album? Verulamium Park Ranger
I didn’t fully appreciate the experience, to be honest. Now if I were working with those people I would appreciate that they wrote incredible pop songs, but I was desperate to break out of the mold that was created for me. I really wanted to go to Atlanta to work with R&B producers and writers, but the record company wanted pop. They said they would make me a “pop princess”, but I was in love with black music and wanted to sound like Jill Scott.

Church, age 14. Photo: Ed Wray/AP

What advice would you give to your pre-fame self? sbgbfab
That there will be a lot of darkness, whether it’s boyfriends selling sex stories, my parents being crazy at various times, the press, or people in the industry being villains. In the 90s and 00s, mainstream culture was very hostile to working-class women who tried to do something different. So I would say focus on the core of yourself which is peaceful and calm. That kept me resilient and loving and not twisted or ruined by crazy experiences.

Do you have fond memories of the mushroom? The masked singer? Verulamium Park Ranger
I loved being a mountain of mushrooms on mainstream TV and people’s reactions to my singing were lush, because I hadn’t had that in a long time. However, I really struggled with long Covid so breathing that mask and trying to dance around was really hard. I thought I was going to pass out.

Charlotte Church as Mushroom in The Masked Singer.
Charlotte Church as Mushroom in The Masked Singer. Photo: Vincent Dolman/ITV

How was the singing [Welsh national anthem] Old land of my fathers for Ryan Reynolds and the welcome from Rob McElhenney to Wrexham docuseries [about the Hollywood actors’ ownership of Wrexham AFC]? stephenw1979
Everything I imagined. They were super nice, accommodating and funny. I told me to bring my kids and they were very nice to the kids. They’re doing a wonderful left of center thing because they care about Wrexham.

Do you think the press learned their lesson from the Leveson enquiry? wheel well
No. The press was very exploitative and vindictive of individuals, but now it is an instrument of the wealthiest in society to control the masses. I’m not a conspiracy theorist and there are mainstream media outlets that do brilliant journalistic work, but the print media still has a lot of power and can be toxic, which is detrimental to democracy.

Charlotte Church sings for Rob and Ryan on Welcome To Wrexham.
Charlotte Church sings for Rob and Ryan on Welcome To Wrexham. Photo: FX Networks

You were a great TV presenter when you had your show Charlotte Church: My Family & Me on Channel 4. Would you ever consider a return? Flappy
I’d love to do a sizzling comedy sketch show that would be social commentary and tear up the people who are tearing the world apart.

Do you still shop at the Spar in Cardiff or are you fancy these days? the sulks
I try to shop ethically and sustainably as much as possible. But when you’ve got three kids in the house and you’re out of stuff, sometimes you just have to run to Tesco.

What are the objectives of your wellness center? Cathy247
To reconnect people with community, nature and the healing power of sound and music. We all need healing because rampant consumer capitalism has brought us intergenerational trauma. The name The Dreaming comes from Aboriginal culture, as indigenous cultures are part of nature in ways we have forgotten.

Really interested in you [forest school] the Awen project – how do you think education needs to change to meet the needs of the 21st century? axolotic
The Awen Project is a free, fairly democratic learning community where every participant has an equal voice in what they learn. The future job market will be about everything that computers and AI cannot do, so creativity, community, collaboration and compassion. So we need to teach young people to be the most human person they can be and help them figure out who they are. Currently, education is a great Goliath that teaches everyone the same. If people can be attracted to what they do best, then we have millions of young people who are educated and passionate about many different things.

Church with her parents Mary and James Church in Charlotte Church: My Family & Me
Church with her parents Mary and James Church in Charlotte Church: My Family & Me. Photo: Adam Lawrence/Curious Films/Channel 4

I’ve long admired your environmental stance, but do you have any tips for getting people who can make real policy changes to take urgent action on our climate and biodiversity crises? Professor Woody
If you want to get people to do things, bond with them. It doesn’t work by lecturing or shaming people. At the moment my motivation is not to build relationships with power. The more we are in buildings in our tech worlds, the less we make decisions that are good for nature, so we need to be in nature more. The coming decades will be disastrous. We are going to lose a lot of people and land, but I believe we can save the world.

Have you ever thought about becoming a full-time activist? MartaLPerez1983
The likes of Extinction Rebellion and the People’s Assembly are doing a great job, but I felt like I had gone as far as I could in terms of beating the drum. I wanted to put my money, time and energy into my activism and started living it. So Pop Dungeon, the Awen Project and the Dreaming are activism. I’m not perfect: we all do our best. Or rather, we are absolutely not. That’s the problem.

Church attending the People's Assembly demonstration against austerity in central London in 2015.
Church attending the People’s Assembly demonstration against austerity in central London in 2015. Photo: Mike Kemp/Corbis/Getty Images

Independence for Wales: yes or no? Pippin
Yes, but I’m not a Welsh nationalist. It’s about trying to create a fairer political system because I don’t feel I can exert any influence over Westminster. It’s not just about the mood, it’s about the quality of the people who lead us.

You released an album of Christmas carols early in your career (Dream a Dream in 2000). What is your favorite Christmas carol or carol? Verulamium Park Ranger
This Christmas by Donny Hathaway, an absolute tune. And I fucking love a bit of Once in Royal David’s City, and a Catholic one, the Angel Gabriel [which she proceeds to sing, beautifully].

What would be your specialist topic on Mastermind? Verulamium Park Ranger
Singing and singers. I’d like to say neuroscience, but I’d be fucked [laughs].

What’s next, musically? Mia Schu
I want to leave Pop Dungeon as this somewhat mythical live experience that doesn’t exist anywhere else. If you’ve been to one, you’ll understand. Over the years I have sung sacred songs, folk songs, pop, art rock and ambient. I’m like a synthesizer, drawing from many different elements that I’m passionate about. My next thing is to become a sound healer and use my voice in a different way. It will be more true to my soul and a culmination of all the crazy shit I’ve done.

Charlotte Church’s Pop Dungeon is at the Brudenell Social Club, Leeds, on December 8. Then tour.

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