It’s been 12 years since her last UK single release. But Spice Girl Geri Horner (formally Halliwell) is back with new music, and is as bubbly (and talkative) as ever!
Her sweet piano ballad Angels In Chains, a tribute to her late friend George Michael, is released today. All profits from the song will go to George’s favorite charity, Childline.
George died last year on Christmas Day of a combination of heart and liver disease. He was 53.
‘I was a George fan, and a friend,’ she tells us during our interview in London. ‘But I wanted him to approve of what I did. I’m probably going to fall short, because he was such a perfectionist!
‘When I wrote this song, the first thing I thought was “George. He’s not there.” So I went to his musical family. The director Chris Porter, Chris Cameron, Shirley Lewis. It was amazing to work with those people.’
Here, Ginger Spice – who’s scored four UK number ones as a solo artist and seven with the Spice Girls – talks kissing Kylie Minogue, living with George after leaving the band, and the truth about her real hair color. You can also watch the video highlights at the bottom of this page…
You’ve been named an ambassador for Childline. How does that feel?
I feel absolutely honored to be asked. It’s come about so organically. Basically, George was a big supporter of Childline. He gave all his proceeds of Jesus To a Child to them. When I started writing this song I knew I wanted [proceeds] to go to George’s favorite charities. I met up with Esther Rantzen and she said how much he did for them. When she asked me to become an ambassador this morning it was such an honour.
The LGBT community are very relevant to Childline. The set of issues a child faces these days is a range. Childline is always there to talk. They deal with child abuse, cyber bullying, or if a little kid is wondering about their sexuality, they can call Childline.
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What would your advice be to a teen in that position?
Well, I’m not an expert, that’s the first thing I’d say. But any issue, the first thing is being honest, and sharing it in a safe place where there’s no judgement, where you can get it up and out. That’s the kindest thing we can give to one and other.
I’m sure you’d be fine with it if one of your kids grew up to be LGBTI for example?
Yeah, fine. What I want is no judgement and to be loved no matter what. No matter the colour of my skin, if I’m black, white, ginger… We want to feel acceptance and if we can give that, it’s a beautiful thing. I have a very inclusive space. You’re all welcome in my gang.
Can you share a lyric from the new track?
When I first started writing it I thought ‘Can I put in a nod to his songs?’ There’s a few. For example, [sings] ’Every young gun has their fun…’ I was a fan of Wham! Then when the backing singers came over – Shirley flew all the way from America – they did these spontaneous ab-libs.
There are a couple of bits. [Sings] ‘George your faith will never end!’ Then they all go ‘You gotta have faith!’ There’s another bit the blew my mind. [Sings] ‘Looking back the fun we had, it’s freedom that you gave!’ Then they all go ‘Freedom!’
‘An album is like a girl’s wardrobe’
Is this song indicative of the album?
Well, I’m in the middle of it. I think for me, albums have a tone. There’s an evolution in my music. An album is like a girl’s wardrobe. She’s got her little black dress, but also her scruffy jeans and favorite T shirt in there. It’s a mix. But for me songs are about connecting with you. There are different ways. I want to connect with your heart, I want to move with you, dance, I want you to feel lifted. For me it’s about the essence of the songs. I’m going back to how I used to write, which is really honest writing. Angels is Chain is about how I was feeling. Maybe you’ll feel it too.
Did George have a favorite song of yours?
There are two things I can say to you. On my second album I wrote this song called Calling. Musically it’s the most intricate, the piano movement on it. He really liked it as a ballad. It didn’t do well here but it did in Russia! [Sings] ‘Calling out your name!’ Then once I caught him – you know when you’re doing your chores – singing Mi Chico Latino! I was like ‘Oh my god!’
Is it true you moved in with him after you left the Spice Girls?
Can you recall a memory from that time?
Everybody knows I used to have eating issues. Once he caught me ‘eating my feelings’. I was at the fridge and he said ‘Oh darling, are you having a binge?!’ [Laughs]
‘Gal Gadot is my girl crush’
You once kissed Kylie Minogue on national TV…
I did, didn’t I….
What’s her kissing technique like?
She’s good. And she’s an instigator, I just have to say!
Oh, so it was her idea!
When I was a kid in the 90s I was convinced you and Mel B were in a relationship…
Have you ever heard that rumor before?
No. I absolutely love Melanie. She’s always going to be like a sister to me!
Do you have a favorite song of your career?
What’s the naughtiest thing you’ve ever done?
[Thinks carefully] I’ve just got one of those faces that looks naughty…
Patting, not pinching, Prince Charles’ bum?
Patting, that’s correct! You’ve done your research! It’s the Spanish in me. I’m accidentally naughty. I’m more cheeky, or playful. It’s good not to lose that spirit.
What is your natural hair color?
If I leave it natural it’s a mousey brown color. But as soon as the sun hits it, it has a golden, gingery redness to it, just subtly.
Do you have any girl crushes?
I’ll tell you who’s amazing, Gal Gadot. I love her. Wonder Woman. I saw her in something else and then I saw her in that. She’s brilliant. I thought, ‘Yes I can girl crush on you.’
Geri’s ‘Angels in Chains’ is out now. She is donating her proceeds to Childline, one of George Michael’s favorite charities.
Pack shot photo by Caroline True.