Singer Hazell Dean shares her thoughts on getting back out on the stage after a year in lockdown and why it’s so important to continue to fly the flag for Pride.
Words: Lucy Donoughue
No matter what profession you’re in, the events of the past year will have had an impact on your day-to-day work life, and the same is true for Hazell Dean. The iconic singer, whose hit track Whatever I Do featured in Russell T Davies’ incredible Channel 4 drama It’s a Sin earlier this year, is reflecting on a year in lockdown and the possibilities that lie ahead as restrictions ease.
Hazell has been singing for over fifty years, and although she describes herself as semi-retired, she has a potentially busy schedule ahead of her for the rest of the year, with performances at Let’s Rock and Prides across the UK.
“My last shows were in March 2020 so it’s going to be weird getting on stage again, she shares. “I keep my voice in shape at home by running through my shows, but that isn’t the same as being in front of an audience.”
Hazell pauses, imagining the moment she steps out on stage again. “My feelings are mixed, I’m nervous to be honest, but this is my job, it’s what I do. Like anyone who has been on furlough, returning to work and being expected to hit the ground running is scary!”
Her schedule kicks off with the Let’s Rock tour at the end of June.“Let’s Rock is such great fun,” she says beaming. The audience are brilliant, they’re there to party and they’re a delight to entertain. It’s great backstage too. I get to see friends and peers, and the backstage crew are all so lovely.
I mean, it’s good family fun to an 80’s soundtrack, could it get any better?”
Everyone should feel safe in their own home town, and that is why Pride in Surrey is so important.
Later in the year, Hazell will be supporting Surrey Pride in her role as Patron. She has a long history of championing the Pride and Gay Rights movement and is passionate about continuing to do so.
She’s keen to point out however, that although Pride has become a moment in the calendar to celebrate love in all its beautiful forms, there’s a need to remember the founding principles of Pride all year round too, as we’re not yet at a point where equality of treatment is the norm, and devastatingly, hate crimes have continued to increase.
“Online hate and abuse have just exploded during periods in lockdown,” Hazell explains. “Hate crimes against the LGBTQ+ community have been steadily on the rise, nearly tripling over the last five years. Crimes against the Trans community have increased dramatically. So yes, it is great to party, but we must not forget that we are still fighting for equality and basic human rights. People are still fighting for their lives.”
Hazell explains that this year also marks the 40th anniversary of the first case of AIDS being identified in San Francisco.
“I hope that Prides across the UK, and around the world take time to acknowledge that,” she says solemnly. “The first London AIDS memorial is scheduled to be built on Tottenham Court Road this year too. It will be an important landmark to remember, mourn and celebrate the beautiful souls we lost.”
Hazell shares that for that reason, she was deeply honoured to have her song Whatever I Do featured
in It’s a Sin. “That drama is so important as it shows our younger generations exactly what had happened in the 80’s.
“I was there and I witnessed the AIDS pandemic first hand. My first nightclub appearance with Searchin’ was at Heaven in London. Those people were my tribe, and they were being wiped out by a terrible virus. Not only that, they were facing appalling discrimination. Russell and the cast did an incredible job portraying those times.”
Two other people doing a great job, she shares, are Stephen Ireland and Charlie Watts who run Pride in Surrey. “The big city Pride festivals are great, but the smaller regional events are incredibly important in
raising visibility and creating allies in the community. Everyone should feel safe in their own home town, and that is why Pride in Surrey is so important.”
Hazell encourages everyone to get involved with Pride in Surrey, regardless of their age, gender or sexuality. “Check out their website!” she says enthusiastically. “Go along to their events, you don’t have to be LGBTQ+ to be an ally.”
“For me,” she says smiling, “It just all comes down to a few simple messages; Don’t discriminate, educate yourself and don’t tolerate hate.
“Finally, kids aren’t born with prejudice, they learn it from adults, so as a parent, grandparent, teacher or friend you can do the right thing – turn it into love!”
Follow @prideinsurrey on Instagram
Watch It’s a Sin on 4OD
Book tickets at letsrock80s.com
Hazell's Local Favourites
Best thing to do locally
I have a dog, Buddy, so we walk daily. Hampton Court is such a magical place, and we are lucky
to have it on our doorstep, so we do like to spend a lot of time there too.
Bushy Park is glorious for a long leisurely walk. The river walk to Kingston is lovely, although it does get busy in the summer months.
Favourite Coffee Shop
We often stop at ‘H at Molesey Lock’ when we’re out on dog walks. They do a great cappuccino with lots of chocolate on top!
We love Belle Epoque, it’s a cornucopia of loveliness!
Lily Blossom florists, for great blooms (and my dog loves Emma)
The Card Collection for cards, balloons and too many sweeties.
E & J Wilson for incredible ironing and dry-cleaning service.
Molesey Pet & Aquatic Centre for the constant supply of plants for our fish tank. We have two very destructive fish – Speedy and Divina Vivienne McMichaels (My daughter is a RuPaul’s Drag Race fan) so seem to be buying plants constantly!
We’re also big fans of Customised Beauty, Emma Lynn and the team are just lovely.
During lockdown we have treated ourselves to dinners from The Thai Courtyard, New Anarkali and Lee Fung.