Katy Setterfield wowed TV audiences with her renditions of the songs of 60s songbird Dusty Springfield, earning her the title of the UK's Ultimate Tribute Act. She spoke to SIBA MATTI of her victory, performing in Las Vegas and her new stage show, Here Come The Girls
TO SAY the past year has been a whirlwind would be an understatement for Katy Setterfield. After fighting off stiff competition from 10 other hopefuls to be crowned the winner of the BBC One show The One and Only - a contest to find the UK's best tribute act - the singer/songwriter found herself jetting off to Las Vegas to perform alongside fellow impersonators, including Elvis and Elton John.
But despite becoming a household name and being catapulted into the limelight, the 38-year-old remains unusually down to earth - probably because she has already spent 20 years working in the music industry.
Katy, who lives in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, says: "I have been in love with music all my life and often used to practise with a hairbrush in the mirror! One of my earliest memories is when my sister and I would sing along to the top 40 on a Sunday night. I always loved Dusty Springfield but David Bowie and Kate Bush were also among my favourites.
"When I left school I started performing as a Cher tribute act and working the local pub/club circuit. At the time Stars in Their Eyes was very popular and everyone said how similar I sounded to Cher. I even got a complimentary letter from her management after I sang Believe - before it was released as a single."
Katy later went on to join That'll Be The Day, reputedly the UK's hardest-working touring show, where she discovered her ability to sound like other superstars, including her beloved Dusty. She spent eight years on the show before making a decision that would change her life forever - to apply for The One and Only.
"Although I had been working in the business for a long time, there were so many people at the auditions and it was an incredibly pressurised situation," Katy explains.
The live shows were equally nerve-wracking for Katy, who admits: "Luckily, Dusty was a fan of long dresses, so you couldn't see my knees knocking. It was always such a relief to get through to the next round, but every performance was exhilarating.
"My favourite songs are You Don't Have to Say You Love Me and All I See is You, which I sang in the final. The other finalists (Frank Sinatra and Lionel Richie) were fantastic, so it was a complete shock to actually win."
After her singing secured the majority of nine million viewers' votes, Katy's prize was a three-month contract to perform in the world-famous Legends in Concert, at the Imperial Palace in Las Vegas.
"I was very intimidated when I joined Legends as I had no idea how Dusty would be received or if people would even remember her," Katy reveals.
"It was a tearful moment leaving my husband, Andy, but when I arrived, a stretch limousine was waiting for me and as we drove down the strip there was a sign saying 'Las Vegas welcomes Dusty Springfield'. Everyone was really friendly and I even got a standing ovation on my last show.
"I also got to watch my own heroes perform, including Bette Midler, Elton John and Cher, which was amazing. The entire experience was fabulous, albeit surreal."
Since returning to the UK last autumn, Katy has barely had time to draw breath between performances.
Her first solo UK tour, simply entitled Katy in Concert as Dusty Springfield, was a huge success, selling out 50 venues.
She later performed in Europe, including Berlin's acclaimed Stars in Concert at The Estrel.
Katy's new show, Here Come The Girls, stops off at the Beck Theatre on Friday (September 18). Along with the best of Dusty Springfield she will be performing hits by Cher, Tina Turner, Annie Lennox, Cilla Black, Sandy Shaw and many more.
The singer, who is scheduled to return to Las Vegas next year, says: "I know most people come to see me as Dusty but I really wanted to show how diverse my voice can be.
The first half is dominated by Dusty songs. Later the focus will be on some of the best female singers and music from the past 50 years.
"It's such a privilege to perform as Dusty - she is responsible for influencing a whole generation of musicians. Of course, there is a stigma attached to any tribute act, but it's about the performance you give. Helen Mirren won an Oscar for her interpretation of the Queen - she wasn't copying her; it was the way she played the role.
"Having said that, I do write my own music and that is something I would like to focus on more in the future, but I never get bored with Dusty. She created such a big back-catalogue of music, so much more than just Son of a Preacher Man."
* Here Come The Girls starts at 7.30pm on Friday (September 18) and tickets cost £16.50 (concessions £15). Call 020 8561 8371 or visit www.becktheatre.org.uk for more information and to book.