‘Prince said I could come over anytime, but didn’t give me his number’

Natasha Bedingfield was on stage at The O2 in 2022 supporting Lewis Capaldi when she realized something strange was going on.

“Everyone sang along,” she marvels. “They knew every word to every song. Then my agent ran up to me and said, “They’re all young people!” I think those songs sneaked their way into popular culture and then Unscribe appeared in the movie [Anyone But You], it just blew up because everyone left the TikTok theater and sang along to it themselves. It’s crazy.”

Although coincidental, the timing couldn’t have been better. This year marks 20 years since the British-born Bedingfield first released her light-hearted pop anthem Unscribed, and the 42-year-old singer-songwriter was already planning to celebrate by playing festivals including the Cambridge Club Festival this week headlined by Chaka Khan. Just as Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s career was relaunched when her 2001 hit Murder on the Dancefloor was used in last year’s film Saltburn, Bedingfield is suddenly back at the top of the list.

“I worked all the time, but I didn’t do that much in England. This year I wanted to go back to my roots. Then the song blew up again!”

Unwritten has changed the direction of Bedingfield’s life before. Although it reached a very respectable number six in Britain upon its release in 2004, it was even more popular in the US, where it spent more than nine months on the chart, was nominated for a Grammy Award and was used as the theme song for MTV. reality show The Hills. “The show wasn’t really my thing and I didn’t watch it,” she admits, “but I understand why everyone got so attached to it, because it was all about people trying to figure out who they are.”

The song became the most played song on American radio in 2006 and made Bedingfield a household name there. She sang at the UN, released a charity single with Beyonce, Rihanna, Miley Cyrus and Mariah Carey, appeared on a Nicki Minaj album and co-wrote and recorded a song about climate change with Paul McCartney.

“I went to the White House and met President Obama and told him, you used my song in your campaign!” she remembers. ‘And he says: I know! That’s why you’re here! I sang there for Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder and Jamie Foxx. Jamie ignored my existence and when I sang he completely changed and said I could come and use his studio anytime. So we became friends and started hanging out. All of LA…”

The past twenty years have been a series of pinch points for Bedingfield.

“One time I was with Adam Levine from Maroon 5 and Prince showed up. It felt like I was in a movie,” she says. “Everyone got into their car in a convoy and went to their house. I didn’t know where we were going because it was dark outside. We get there and everyone is jamming, my girlfriend is dancing with Salma Hayek, and me and Adam look at each other and think, we’re at f______ Prince’s house! And I remember Prince telling me to come over anytime, but then he never gave me his number and I didn’t know where we were, so I could never go back.”

Natasha Bedingfield performing at the annual Race to Erase MS 31st Annual Gala, May 2024

Natasha Bedingfield performing at the annual Race to Erase MS 31st Annual Gala, May 2024 – JC Olivera/Variety via Getty Images

In Britain it was a different story. Although Bedingfield’s second album NB entered the Top Ten, a tour to promote it was canceled so she could focus on her growing success in the US. A re-recorded version of the same album, retitled Pocketful of Sunshine, was subsequently released there and included seven new songs.

“Those new songs made it, but they didn’t release it in England and I don’t know why,” she says. “I don’t think artists had that much power back then. When you were on a label you had to get them on your side and do what they really wanted. They had a very clear idea of ​​what kind of artist I would become and what worked for them in the past. They said, well, this is what Dido did, and she had just had a big hit for me. She always wore jeans, so you should wear jeans. My big fight with them was that I wanted to wear skirts, so I ended up wearing all big, colorful skirts and that was my big win.

Worse still, Bedingfield says her label geo-blocked her, effectively limiting access to her US performances to anyone living in Britain.

“My English label geo-blocked me, so anything I did in the States couldn’t be seen here. When I sang at The White House, my mother couldn’t watch it on the internet. There was a time, even five years ago, when labels still did that and I don’t know why. That was hard. But I kept working. You just go where the love is.”

'The paparazzi were nice to me, but very mean to my brother': Natasha and Daniel in 2007'The paparazzi were nice to me, but very mean to my brother': Natasha and Daniel in 2007

‘The paparazzi were nice to me, but very mean to my brother’: Natasha and Daniel in 2007 – Dave Hogan/Getty Images

While her fame skyrocketed across the Atlantic, it waned in Britain and her third album Strip Me was never even released here. Her relentlessly upbeat pop and always sunny personality became an easy target for ridicule, and she was mercilessly mocked for everything from her Christian upbringing to her relationship with pop star brother Daniel, best known for his ballad If You’re Not The One.

“The paparazzi were always nice to me, but they were very mean to my brother, just because it wasn’t possible for two siblings to be doing well at the same time,” she says. “It’s interesting what that does to a culture, because even if they’re not mean to you, there’s a threat that they might be, and you end up living in that fear. That culture ensures that you remain well-behaved – in the same way that religion does. There is a threat that you will go to hell or that someone will turn on you and hate you.

“My philosophy is that I don’t take anything too seriously. When people say great or bad things, I try to take it with a grain of salt because things can change. Now more than ever, we all experience that immediate feedback – we’re all famous, aren’t we?”

She’s equally down-to-earth about her unusual childhood, during which she was home-schooled by her New Zealand parents and raised in what she calls an “alternative Christianity,” attending the famed Micah Community church in south London, founded by R&B gospel pioneers the Wade brothers.

“As children, we were fortunate enough to feel that we were spiritual beings connected to something greater than ourselves. That culture of music, spirituality and community was very powerful for me and I think that had a huge influence on me.”

In fact, all four Bedingfield siblings – Natasha, Daniel, brother Joshua and sister Nikola – are now professional singers, despite not even being allowed to listen to the radio growing up.

“Isn’t that ironic?” she says. “But I think if you’re raised in a vacuum and you let your kids get bored, maybe it’s a gift to them and they end up creating their own entertainment. In the end, it was actually my father who told me that I should drop out of college and start making music. How unusual is that?”

It took Bedingfield longer to accept her own trajectory as a pop star. “I felt a bit rebellious for a while about the idea of ​​what pop is, because it’s not always cool,” she admits. “I actually write two or three times more sad songs than happy ones, that’s what comes out of me naturally, but it’s not what people like. The ones that are a hit for me are more uplifting.

'I thought having a child would end my career because everyone told me so': Natasha Bedingfield'I thought having a child would end my career because everyone told me so': Natasha Bedingfield

‘I thought having a child would be the end of my career because everyone told me so’: Natasha Bedingfield – Cameron Jordan

The arrival of her son Solomon in late 2017 with husband, Californian businessman Matt Robinson, has changed her perspective. Although she’s based mostly in New York, she’s now excited to focus her energies on Britain this year, celebrating the unexpected resurgence of Unscribe and getting back into the studio to write new music.

“I thought having a child would be the end of my career because everyone told me so,” she says. “But four months later I signed a new contract and started making a record, and now this has all happened. In the 1980s we were sold this version of feminism that told us we can have it all, and many people of my generation were taught that you have to make choices. You can’t have everything. You have to choose what you are going to have and actually own it. You can be a mother and have a job, but you have to have support around you and really work on that, which really helps me make the most of the time I have. I no longer take this for granted.”

The Cambridge Club Festival takes place from 7 to 9 June at Childerley Orchard, Cambridge. Tickets: thecambridgeclub.co

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