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Rebecca Grant

July 2014

IT was the breakdown of their parents’ marriage that was the catalyst for the three Grant sisters to go into showbusiness.

So says Rebecca, 32, the youngest of the three.

“They split up when I was one. My mum had a choice of either being really upset about it or investing that energy into the arts.

“She’d take us to the Morrison School of Dance in Hyson Green and I think that was very fulfilling for her. She also became involved with costume making for the school, which she still does now.”

Model and actress Rachel, who starred alongside Pierce Brosnan as a Bond Girl in Die Another Day, now lives in New York, while eldest sister Angela runs a dance school in London.

Rebecca now lives in North London with husband Ivan Pierson, who works in publishing. Their wedding in 2009 was covered by OK! Magazine.

“We got married in a place called Ham, which is near Sandwich, would you believe,” she laughs.

The Morrison School of Dance was the beginning of Rebecca’s life on stage and screen, that over the past 30 years has included Andrew Lloyd Webber’s West End show Bollywood Dreams, a play with Christian Slater, a role alongside Scarlett Johansson and Natalie Portman in the film The Other Boleyn Girl, plus TV roles in Emmerdale, Prisoners’ Wives and Holby City.

“I think my dancing lessons at the Morrison School of Dancing were so magical, it was like stepping into a fairytale book. That’s where I started.

“And I don’t think I’ve ever properly left; I always pop in to see Miss Morrison and her pupils. She was such an inspirational teacher and she brought out a feeling and passion for dance.”

Mum is Isabel Grant, who still lives in Mapperley where the sisters grew up. She moved from the Philippines in her early 20s.

“Mum was in labour for 24 hours with me,” grimaces Rebecca, who plans to have children in the next few years.

“She says that whenever I heard music I used to dance in my cot. Well, not dance, more like wriggle.”

Dad, who she has remained close to despite the separation, is a GP. And it is through his family that Rebecca has a connection to the future king.

“It’s true – we are the fourth cousins of William and Harry. We always knew about it growing up because my dad used to talk about it.

“My grandfather’s mother was Ernestine Bowes Lyon, the first cousin of the Queen Mother. I was very intrigued with the story of how she met my great-grandfather.

“She was already married and had two sons in Scotland until she fell in love with my grandfather [Ronald Grant, Baron de Longueuil] and eloped with him. She shot herself in the heart and recovered and lived until she was 96.”

The Grant sisters went to Hollygirt, the independent girls’ school, where she picked up ten GCSEs, including four A*s.

Rebecca then studied performing arts at Clarendon College.

“I’d heard that Samantha Morton had gone there and I really admired her. I loved the two years I was there.

“At the same time I was in shows at the Co-op Arts Theatre, which I’d been doing for years as a dancer and actor.

“And I was in a play at the Playhouse with Helena Bonham-Carter when I was 11.

“I thought she was very beautiful. She had this bed backstage which she used to lay on and look at the ceiling. I found that intriguing. She’s beautifully eccentric and is one of my idols.

“After Clarendon College I wanted to go to Rada but couldn’t really afford it.

“I was doing a lot of dancing jobs, and eventually got a role as a flamenco dancer in Carmen at the Royal Albert Hall.

“I did a few short films, including one in the Philippines which I won an award for. It was English-speaking but I had to do a Filipino accent,” she says, adding that it is something she can do quite easily as her mum’s partner is Filipino, so it’s the language she hears when she’s visiting them in Nottingham.

Her break came after numerous auditions for West End shows, when she landed a role in the musical Bombay Dreams as one of the principal dancers.

“I had the ambition to appear in the West End before I was 20. I was 19.

“We did a lot of TV shows, including the Royal Variety Show, The Generation Game and Michael Barrymore’s My Kind Of People.”

In her second year with the Lloyd Webber musical, Rebecca got a bigger part, found herself an agent, then ended up starring alongside Christian Slater in the play One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.

“He was really lovely. I seriously can’t fault him. I played a nurse; a Filipino nurse.”

The theme continued for the role she is most recognised for – Filipino nurse Daisha Anderson in Holby City.

“On the first day I snogged a patient,” she laughs. “I got pregnant, was going to have an abortion, then I didn’t, I gave birth in a lift, was going to give the baby up for adoption, then I didn’t... then I got shot.

“It was lots of fun. Robert Powell is still a friend, Patsy Kensit was so sweet and funny and Adrian Edmondson really made me laugh.”

She was in Holby City for two years, after which, and in between stage shows, Rebecca reappeared on TV in Emmerdale and Prisoners’ Wives. Her biggest film role was in The Other Boleyn Girl with Scarlett Johansson, Natalie Portman and Eric Bana.

“I was playing a dancer, and you see me quite a bit,” she says.

Rebecca is currently appearing in Around The World In 80 Days, which has just transferred from the New Vic in Stoke-on-Trent to Manchester’s Royal Exchange.

“I play an Indian princess who gets rescued by Phileas Fogg. And we’ve been getting some great reviews so hopefully it will continue around the country.”

For more about Rebecca visit her website


July 2014

IT was at last summer’s Splendour festival and a backstage chat with Jake Bugg’s manager that the seeds were sown for Harleighblu’s current success.
She had been on the local music scene for a few years, picking up acclaim and tips for success on a regular basis. Then came the deal with Tru Thoughts and the subsequent debut album Forget Me Not, plus national airplay and magazine cover features.
But she’s stepped it up a gear this year, making her Glastonbury debut last week, playing the Isle of Wight Festival, festivals in Switzerland and France, with more to follow including Bestival and The Great Escape.
“There are lots of great things coming up,” says the 22-year-old, who lives in Carrington.
“It’s going to be a good summer. It feels like it’s going to be my year.”
It all started with a mini-tour of the UK, including the Rescue Rooms, in February.
“I’ve not stopped since then,” she says.
The jump from local gigs to international festivals has been down to her finding a manager.
“It’s had a massive effect on my life,” she says.
“I only came across him because of a big talk I had at Splendour last summer with Jason Hart, Jake Bugg’s manager. He said I needed a manager who would, eat, sleep and breath me, who totally gets the direction I want to go in, someone with time, money, energy... all of that.
“It was invaluable advice. And I soaked it all in. Then I played an industry festival that was showcase for Tru Thoughts. Chris Young was there to give a talk about the success of Subtracks, a producer he manages. He’d just been in the States working with Drake.
“Chris knew who I was because XFM’s John Kennedy had been championing me and I’d been played on 1Xtra. He said he was interested in managing me and I told him I was in between management. I wasn’t, I was doing it all myself,” she laughs.
“He gave me his card and that was it. He sorted my life out. Now I can enjoy the singing and he can sort out the business side of it. That had been killing me and the reason why I’d not been playing so many gigs.
“Then, as soon as you give that job to someone who knows what they’re doing... bam! it all starts.”
Not that Chris is finding managing Harleighblu that easy.
“He gets quite annoyed with me because I’ve not been checking into flights on time when I get the emails,” she laughs. “All this flying malarkey, it’s a bit much for me. I find it really confusing.”
Already this summer she’s played the Isle of Wight Festival, then Fete Du La Musique in Switzerland.
“I didn’t know until I got there that I was on the main stage. I thought I was playing some little jazzy stage. There were thousands of people there. It was massive. I was in the Geneva newspaper as ‘one to watch’ and even when I was soundchecking there thousands of people waiting and staring at me. And when I started singing they knew the words. It was a really surreal feeling.”
Last weekend’s Glastonbury was a good experience she says but the smaller, leftfield festivals are what she’s most excited about.
“Glastonbury is as mainstream as I’m getting,” she laughs.
“It was great but the next day I was in Paris supporting Charles Bradley and the Dap Kings at La Defense Jazz Festival.
“On Tuesday it was Gilles Peterson's Worldwide Festival in th South of France. I’ve got Love Supreme this weekend where I’ll get to support De La Soul again, and Laura Mvula... just cool soul and hip-hop artists. And I’m excited about the other jazz festivals I’ve coming up in France later this month.”
Harleighblu is her real name. Her mum was pregnant with twins that she planned to call Harleigh and Blu, merging the names when she lost one of them.
It was her mum’s vinyl collection that inspired the music she makes today.
“Singing is definitely the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do,” she admits. “I have no plan B.”
Her debut album, Forget Me Not, came out on Tru Thoughts last summer. It earned great reviews but wasn’t a commercial success.
That said, it served its purpose, she says.
“Forget Me Not was a great platform, just to get something out there and start the ball rolling. I got the attention that I needed from that album but now I’m moving on.”
The more she plays live with her band, the more her sound is developing: “It’s going a bit more trip-hop and electronic. It still has that hip-hop soul element but it’s developing. I’ll release an EP with that new sound at the end of the year or in January.”
Harleighblu is back in Nottingham tonight for the Tia Maria Dark Room, a curious event in a pop-up venue in Broad Street.
TV and radio presenter Gemma Cairney is the curator of what is billed as “the ultimate girls’ night out” that includes cocktails, hair styling, manicures and live music.
“I wasn’t sure about doing it because it’s the day after I come back from France and I’m off again to Love Supreme the day after,” says Harleighblu.
“I could have done with the day off. But Chris said that Laura Mvula did it last year and I like her. I think she’s cool. And I pretty much do as he says anyway.”

The Tia Maria Dark Room, with Harleighblu and One Girl, One Boy, is at Unit 2, 7 George Street, Lace Market from 5pm to 11pm and again tomorrow from 4pm to 11pm (Harleighblu only appears tonight). Admission is free but tickets are required. Go to for details.

“The new queen of hip hop soul”@ Radio 1/1Xtra’s Mistajam

“Her protean, dexterous voice immediately impresses. A talent to watch"@ Q

“A raw talent… with a voice that pours old soul in unfeigned torrents… a polished yet stirring debut.”@Clash

“Great soul. Look for this voice to grace some future high profile collaborations”@ DJ Mag

“Great vocals and songs to die for… expect big things and a bright future (5/5)@ Blues & Soul


“Can’t get enough of Play Me”@ 6Music’s Nemone

“A tune that a lot of people are asking about… Harleighblu… I like that!”@ 1Xtra’s Trevor Nelson

“She is something else. Massive, massive”@ 6Music’s Huey Morgan