After her own successful battle with cancer, Siobhan Dillon, last seen in the West End and on Broadway alongside Glenn Close in “Sunset Boulevard”, is to release her stunning new album, “Siobhan Dillon – One Voice”, in support of the Breast Cancer Haven charity.
Four years in the making, Siobhan has teamed up with globally renowned producer Steve Anderson (producer/musical director for Kylie Minogue for over 20 years, along with Steps, Westlife, Leona Lewis Luke Evans and Susan Boyle), for a stunning collection of songs that each hold a special connection to her.
The 11 eclectic tracks include “She Used to be Mine” by Sara Bareilles from her musical “Waitress”, Roxette’s “It Must Have Been Love”, “Mad World”, originally performed by Tears For Fears, Roberta Flack’s “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” and “Without You” from the musical “Rent”.
Watch Siobhan sing “She Used to be Mine” from the musical “Waitress” in a new video
Siobhan said: “I’ve been writing songs and recording all sorts of music since I was 17 and was lucky enough to have a record deal with Universal when I was 22, but it felt like someone else’s dream. As appealing as the idea of being a recording artist was, the songs never really resonated with me. It didn’t feel right and so i came to the conclusion that I wasn’t “doing it properly” Something just felt wrong.
“It was only after my experience with breast cancer in 2015 that I was able to drop the idea of what a recording should sound like and how a story should be told and honestly, I started telling stories that I wanted to tell because I let them resonate with me. Crying ugly tears and just being honest. For the first time ever a producer encouraged me to just go for it and nothing was “wrong”, in fact the more flaws the better! It was a way of creating and recording that worked exceptionally well for a recovering perfectionist! Steve Anderson and I really took our time with this album. We had no idea what it would be or when it would all be complete but we started anyway. What a wonderfully rare position to be in. It started with Steve asking me to send him a list of my ‘desert island’ songs, which slowly progressed into ‘the songs that I had always wanted to sing’ which very quickly progressed into ‘the stories that my heart wants to tell through song’. The decision to have my vocals front and centre – warts and all – was deliberate. Maybe uncomfortable at times, for me and the listener, but the only way I could express myself in the way I wanted. I will always be eternally grateful to Steve Anderson. A master producer, arranger, friend and all-round legend.”
Steve Anderson commented: “I first heard Siobhan’s voice (as I think most people did) when she took part in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s TV talent show casting Maria. I fell in love with her tone and believability instantly and knew I wanted to work with her at some point. We first met when she auditioned for a part in the production of “Rent” I was Musical Director for in 2007 but that didn’t work out. We met up again over the following years when I saw her starring in “Ghost” and “Cabaret” and got to talking about making a record.
“I asked her to write a list of the songs that meant most to her in the world but limited it to a certain amount and categories. In 2016 we finally got into the studio and starting routining songs, trying different styles and approaches but it became clear to me that I wanted to capture the very essence of her, that believability I had fallen in love with all those years ago; honest, vulnerable, beautiful and as powerful as it was sometimes broken. From then we recorded in stolen moments when she was in the UK and created the essence of the album, always trusting each other implicitly and never afraid to try things to see if they worked.
“It became very clear to me how much the wonderful Haven charity had impacted her life in so many ways so it was inevitable that the album would be for them. As a producer I try to capture magic wherever I can. I try to create something that will spark an emotion in the listener that may take them by surprise and that can only happen when humans respond to other humans. So to be able to produce and arrange for a voice like Siobhan’s is a true gift and one that I am truly indebted to have been able to be a part of.”
Siobhan Dillon rose to fame in 2006 when she performed in the BBC1 talent show series ‘How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?’. Since then, she has performed in the West End, playing the roles of Sandy in ‘Grease’ at the Piccadilly Theatre, Vivienne Kensington in ‘Legally Blonde’ at the Savoy Theatre, Sally Bowles in ‘Cabaret’, Molly in ‘Ghost the Musical’ at the Piccadilly Theatre, Ellen in ‘Miss Saigon’, and Betty Schaefer in ‘Sunset Boulevard’ at the London Coliseum. Siobhan made her Broadway debut in this role at the Palace Theatre in New York City.
Siobhan Dillon gives a revealing insight into “One Voice” Track by Track:
1. EVERYONE’S WAITING
Originally performed by Missy Higgins. Written by Missy Higgins and Danel Dodd Wilson
I’d been performing on London stages for almost a decade when I was diagnosed in 2015 with cancer. I was a few weeks into my contract playing Ellen in “Miss Saigon”. I decided to get through my treatment as quickly as possible to get back to the stage and play this iconic role. But when I returned I froze. Everything felt different. The title of this song ‘Everyone’s Waiting’ reflected exactly how I felt going back to the theatre on that pretty autumnal afternoon. I was nervous as I approached the theatre and being greeted by the wonderfully supportive company I was more emotional than I can describe. Everyone was waiting. Make up on, costume on… “eyelashes one by one”… My body had been through a lot and my nervous system had taken a bashing! Perhaps more than I realised at this point. The usual stress response of “breathe through it” didn’t seem to work. I was emotionally exhausted. Maybe I came back to the theatre too soon? I remember a huge weight on my shoulders (that I had put there). Wanting to get back quickly because people were expecting me to heal up and come back to work. Eva Noblezada was my rock. The powerhouse that she is would be in my corner every second of that first performance back and for the rest of the run. “Just swallow and breathe” she says, “remember it’s not for you, it’s for them… and all of those painful lessons you’ve had to learn. You’ve gotta use them now…” I remember stepping onto that stage and it feeling completely different to any other time I had stood on stage before. I was fragile. More sensitive. Things felt different, but I couldn’t work out exactly how. It felt empty and pointless. Nothing about being on the stage excited me. In fact I just felt uncomfortable. It was as if I’d got back onto an old trusty rollercoaster from some time away and realised this time I wasn’t wearing a harness and the ride wasn’t fixed to a safe and tested track. I just wanted it all to stop. It was manic. The beautiful orchestral music on stage felt louder and almost discordant. It seemed to resonate through my body in an aggressive way which made me question my surroundings – and my sanity- while I stood on stage. My friends, performing breathtaking scenes alongside me seemed to be speaking louder and faster than before. The stage lights felt brighter than before. The audience seemed more expectant and restless. I was a deer in the headlights… and I wanted to “turn it all off”. I wanted it all to stop. This song could have been written about me and my experiences. I think Missy Higgins is an absolute genius singer songwriter and she is still on my “people I have to meet” list. Thank you Missy for giving me a vehicle to express myself.
2. LET THE WORDS ESCAPE
Originally performed by Chris Rice. Written by Chris Rice
For what seemed like a lifetime I was dreaming about finding my soulmate. I heard this song and it almost became a mantra for me. I would sing this song and visualise this strong, kind, loving man whisking me up off my feet and loving me completely. I have always been a very spiritual person and believed with every part of me that he was here, on the planet (!) somewhere!!… My equal. My partner in crime. My person. The idea that our angels would “bump their wings in passing” would make me smile and give me faith that he was just waiting for the right time. This song is a gentle, surrender to what is and what will be. There is a greater plan at work and even if our “plan” doesn’t seem to be working out, it usually means there is a better one coming to fruition. The words “I love you” are so powerful that when held in a pure and peaceful light, I truly believe the resonance of this statement can carry dreams and wishes into being. Not long after this song was recorded I found my soulmate, Adam. We have been inseparable for over twi years now and will be together for ever. When you know, you know. You know?
3. SHE USED TO BE MINE (from the musical “Waitress”)
Originally performed by Sara Bareilles. Written by Sara Bareilles.
This is probably the most emotional song for me. When I first heard the “Waitress” Broadway soundtrack in 2016 I was kind of done with the treatment but was still feeling the waves of what had happened a year earlier. I was petrified that the experience had changed me in a negative way. I was scared of losing something. My fearlessness? Maybe. My naiveté? Probably. I was so scared that people saw me differently. I was scared that my energy had changed and my light had dimmed. I was “lonely, most of the time”… This idea of the person that I used to be was “gone. But she used to be mine.” This idea of “life slips in through a back door” just really takes the wind out of me every time I hear or sing it, as we get on with living our lives, day to day and suddenly there we are. We find ourselves in places we would never have imagined without noticing it happening. I have to admit there were moments in this song where I just felt like I was crying – actually sobbing – maybe even grieving for the old me. Especially of course right at the end in those final cries of “she used to be mine”. This girl who was struggling through her 20s to fight and become this and that. Always striving – never really stopping to experience the joy in each moment, now, after this struggle, is seeing quite clearly that all of that necessary growth and accompanying pain has brought her here, into the present moment. A woman, stronger, braver and wiser than before, who overcame breast cancer.
4. IT MUST HAVE BEEN LOVE
Originally performed by Roxette. Written by Per Gassle.
Quite simply one of the most simple and beautiful love songs that has always brought me straight back to my youth. A fleeting moment of connection. I would often sing it unaccompanied and because it’s so rich with bittersweet emotion and beautiful imagery it seemed like a great one to play with for this album. It’s the simplicity of the lyrics that really captured my imagination. It always felt to me like the bones of this song was like a lullaby and I think that’s what we ended up creating.
5. MAD WORLD
Originally performed by Tears For Fears. Written by Roland Orzabal.
One of my favorite songs from my childhood but back then I didn’t know why and I suspect that if I’d really listened to the lyrics then I wouldn’t have understood them anyway. They’re haunting. People up early, ready for their “daily races.. going nowhere”. This song felt to me like a cry for help from humanity. Like I was watching expressionless robots running “in circles”. It felt like the planet needed a reboot before it spun out of control. I would sit and watch people aggressively marching through busy London streets and be overcome with worry as I realised that more and more people are living in this way. Seeking relief with glasses of wine or medication. Seeking distractions to drown their sorrows. The idea of “Children waiting for the day they feel good” breaks my heart as we continue to promise pleasure in the future instead of recognising the
reality and joy the present moment. There are beautifully delicate and haunting elements to this song which does feel like a smile breaking through tears. This song for me is the biggest heartbreaker because it feels like we are witnessing a world spiraling out of control and people are too sedated to stop it – or even care.
6. THE FIRST TIME EVER I SAW YOUR FACE
Originally performed by Roberta Flack. Written by Ewan MacColl.
I heard a very rough instrumental recording of this song that Steve Anderson had produced and absolutely fell in love. The sentiment of this song is about pure love and along with his sweeping arrangement of it, it felt like a dream. Almost all of my friends now have children and during the recording of the song, I found myself imagining what that would feel like, to look into the eyes of your baby for the first time after carrying it with such care and love. Eventually the anticipation of meeting your new little human and then to experience the joy filling the earth… and lasting “til the end of time”
7. I CAN’T MAKE YOU LOVE ME
Originally performed by Bonnie Raitt. Written by Allen Shamblin and Michael Reid.
I have always loved the melody of this song. First when I was introduced to the song performed by Bonnie Raitt and then again when George Michael covered it. Before I understood what it all meant. So this song for me was first a melody… then once I really listened to the words it would make me cry. Over and over again. The most agonisingly gentle expression of rejection which makes my heart ache every time I sing it. That is why I chose this song. Every single time I hear that first lyric I feel my heart begin to ache, because I remember how that feels and I also don’t think I know a single person who hasn’t felt like this at some point in their life.
8. ALREADY GONE
Originally performed by Kelly Clarkson. Written by Kelly Clarkson and Ryan Tedder.
The first time I heard this song it was actually being performed by a man. It was haunting and beautiful and the lyrics told this story of inevitable end which really resonated with me. Sometimes it’s virtually impossible to explain how you ‘know’ when a relationship isn’t right and so the hardest thing in the world is trying to explain that to the person you love. It’s as simple as that really. These lyrics are brave, but more than that, they’re heartbreaking because they’re so honest.
9. BROKEN VOW
Originally performed by Lara Fabian. Written by Lara Fabian and Walter Afanasieff.
This song comes from a place of wanting to understand. That is all. Where an understandable reaction would be to scream and blame, all we hear is an earnest plea for explanations. It doesn’t even matter at this point that she is alone. The comfort comes with understanding and trying to piece together the reasons why she has been left alone. This is such a familiar feeling to me and a few of my close friends. I found the pain in my heart so easy to access when I heard this song and when the time came to record it. It’s a gentle and almost apologetic cry for answers as she comes to the realisation that her energy is wasted and releases the need to know.
10. WITHOUT YOU (from the musical “Rent”)
Written by Jonathan Larson.
I was first introduced to “RENT” when I was 21 and I could not stop singing the songs from this beautiful musical. This song in particular holds a very special place in my heart. There is so much hurt in the simplicity of her daily observations;“The rain falls. The grass grows”… “The world revives” …“But I know blue, lonely blue.” Everything is the same and yet nothing is the same. The world continues to revolve… “life goes on”… and yet “I’m gone. Because I die, without you.” It is not only incredibly visual and poetic but Steve’s stunning orchestration of this song makes it even more emotional for me. The interesting coincidence with this musical is that it’s how myself and Steve first met! I auditioned for Mimi in his “RENT REMIXED” in 2007. It was my first ever West End audition after the reality TV show in 2006 and I am certain it was horrific! I didn‘t get the role, but never-the-less, we’ve been friends ever since!!
11. PROMISE ME
Originally performed by Beverley Craven. Written by Beverly Craven.
This song had always been the ‘wild card’. It went though a few different idea stages and kept getting more and more stripped back… The hurdle was to take a theatrical song with a beautiful melody and point the listener in the direction of the story instead. For me, that was certainly my biggest challenge. I seem to remember the room getting darker and darker and one evening this recording was born. It felt like we just sort of dropped into a “pocket” of intimate longing which in a cathartic way, felt great. Being this fragile for this particular story felt exactly right for how I imagined this song to be.
Siobhan Dillon – One Voice is available to buy now.