Eve still wants ‘To Teach The World To Sing’

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)
Loading...
Oct 2018 Eve still wants ‘To Teach The World To Sing’

By Peter Robertson

A familiar singer from decades gone by is making a courageous comeback.

Forty-seven years ago, Scottish singer Eve Graham shot to international stardom as lead vocalist with the clean-cut super-group The New Seekers. Now aged 75, Eve is about to release a new solo album entitled A Matter Of Time, and in Spring, 2019, will star in a postponed Celtic Country Show UK tour with Dominic Kirwan and Colin Chisholm.

This will be Eve’s first recording and tour since the tragic death of her beloved husband Kevin in February 2016.

“It will always feel too soon, but I think it’s probably right if I try to work again,” said Eve.

“I had always hoped to record again, but I didn’t anticipate being asked to do a tour.

“I must say, I did take some persuading. The promoter took a chance, and the tour was already being advertised before I had finally said yes. It’s not that I don’t want to do it, more that it’s all a bit daunting.

“If I feel good about myself after this tour, I will probably want to do more. I don’t have Kevin by my side anymore, so I don’t know how I will feel. But I know I’m lucky to have a choice, and I should be grateful. It’s one day at a time from now on.”

Eve is yet to decide what she will sing, but chances are her set will include classic New Seekers hits. The band, then also including Lyn Paul, Paul Layton, Marty Kristian and Peter Doyle, sold more than 25 million records, thanks to hit songs such as I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing – a re-worded version of which was used in a famous Coca Cola commercial – and Beg, Steal Or Borrow, with which they came second in the 1972 Eurovision Song Contest. They worked with the likes of Liza Minnelli and Andy Williams, and Eve partied with Paul McCartney and Bob Dylan.

Looking as good as she sounded, Eve inevitably attracted plenty of male attention. She declined the advances of heart-throb Hollywood actor Burt Reynolds, had a fling with football legend George Best, and lived with TV and radio presenter Ed “Stewpot” Stewart, who also sadly died in 2016. Eve still lives in the beautifully-located cottage in Abernethy she shared with fellow singer and musician Kevin and their three Lhasa Apso dogs, whom she admits are like the children they never had.

Asked how well she’s singing these days, Eve replied: “The sound of the voice doesn’t really change, but the stamina required obviously diminishes with age. Thankfully, I have my dogs for daily walks on the hill to keep me active, and hopefully that helps.”

She first met Kevin, then known as Danny, when he replaced Peter Doyle in The New Seekers in 1976.

“It was at Paul’s house in London. Kevin was sitting at the table and, as I walked in, he stood up. I put out my hand to shake his, he took it in both of his and kissed it. It was very romantic and I thought: ‘Wow, he’s nice!'”

Then: “No, if we’re going to be working together, none of that! “But two weeks later we got together and that was it. ”

They married in London in 1979. From 1978 to 1985, they performed together as a duo, releasing two singles and touring with Gene Pitney and Max Boyce. But neither the duo nor Eve’s attempt at a solo career, took off.

“What I lacked was a really good manager who wanted to concentrate on me, and Kevin didn’t believe in husbands managing wives. I couldn’t make decisions for myself on what to do.”

Eve looks back fondly on her days as a New Seeker.

“Those years were the peak of my working life,” she declared. “We always had top quality songs from the best writers – Neil Sedaka, Neil Diamond, and so on. We once did a show in America with The Boston Pops Orchestra, one of the most famous orchestras: and another with Nelson Riddle conducting. We worked with other artists like Liza Minnelli, Dionne Warwick, and Andy Williams. Things like that were fantastic.

“We had a great following. When we were in Edinburgh for Eurovision, the fans were thronging Princes Street in Edinburgh and the riot squad had to be called out. After the contest, we played a concert in Newcastle and the car was rocked by fans pushing against it, so guys had to be hired to protect us.

“I was at a record launch in the late 70s and walking through a very crowded area when a voice from behind shouted: ‘Hi Eve, how’s Scotland?’ I turned round and it was Paul McCartney, who was sitting with his (first) wife Linda and Bob Dylan.

“I was so gobsmacked I said ‘Fine’ and kept walking. He must have thought I was a dummy, but I was too shy and taken aback.”

Virtually every week since she was last a member of The New Seekers, Eve has been asked if the hit-making line-up of the group will ever re-unite. Top theatre producer Bill Kenwright tried to make it happen a few years ago. But Eve has always given a firm “No” because for most of the intervening years Paul Layton has happily led his own version, and Peter Doyle died from throat cancer in October 2001, aged 52.

“If we’d stayed together, I suppose we’d still have a very good career. But it’s very hard for that to happen, because individuals change. And maybe the glory is in the fact that, like James Dean and Elvis, we died young!”

Only a few years ago, Eve learned to her amazement that Free To Be…You And Me, a song The New Seekers recorded in 1972 with her distinctive lead vocals, became a favourite of millions of Americans including Gwyneth Paltrow and Barack Obama when it was the title song of a US TV special and record which also featured the likes of Michael Jackson and Diana Ross.

“I’m told Obama has said that Free To Be…You And Me taught a generation of kids that they were strong and beautiful, and that my voice on the song helped inspire him when he was growing up, and his firm belief in the American people that, together, they could get themselves out of their economic mess.”

“When she appeared in The Actors’ Studio TV programme, Gwyneth Paltrow revealed that, as a little girl, she spent lots of time in her room singing along with Free To Be You & Me.”

Another fresh revelation to Eve is that a former executive at Bell Records, who originally released the record 46 years ago, has declared: “Eve Graham was a doll. She would have been a major hit in the country music scene in the US.”

Contemplating what could have been, Eve said: “I obviously had potential that was never realised, but I only have myself to blame because I never really put myself ‘out there’. However, the compensation is, I’ve probably had a happier private life than most other ex-pop stars.”

More than 15 years ago, Eve thought she’d hung up her microphone for good in favour of gardening tools, but several projects have brought her out of retirement, including a tour of New Zealand in 2012. Three years later, Eve released the single Love Won The Fight, a biblical song performed to the Scottish-inspired anthem Highland Cathedral.

 

It’s still available on Scotdisc; the label also released A Matter Of Time.