Genevieve Vieira
2 minute read
31 Aug 2013
12:00 pm

Timeless Tyler

Genevieve Vieira

"I use to sing along to everybody's songs in my bedroom, you know, with the hairbrush, like we women do, looking into the mirror as if I was on stage," says Bonnie Tyler about her childhood.

Pictures: Michel Bega

She speaks with fervour in her eyes and a smile on her face, re-enacting her words with visual demonstrations.

The 62-year-old Welsh singer, real name Gaynor Hopkins, has enjoyed four decades of performing and touring the world and has returned to South Africa 20 years after her previous visit.

“It wasn’t until I was about 16 that I really thought ‘I love this’,” she continues.

“My auntie put my name down for a talent competition, so that’s how I started. I came second and there were local agents who asked me if I could be added to their books.”

Recalling memories, Tyler’s eagerness to speak resembles that of a child telling a favourite story. It’s partly her passion for talking that’s responsible for her trademark husky voice. Having suffered from vocal nodules in 1976, the singer underwent surgery to restore her voice.

“You not allowed to talk for six weeks after the operation. I find it impossible not to talk, so in the end, I was a little more husky than I was before,” Tyler explains.

“It’s not a bad thing. It gives me a bit of edge, you know.”

Tyler looks really good for 62, slim and in shape, make-up intact and hair blow-waved to perfection.

“I thought to myself, ‘Well I don’t have a repertoire, so the best thing to do was start a band [Imagination] and work locally’,” she explains.

“I was really happy to just work locally. But I was discovered by accident.”

Tyler had been singing in a pub that had two floors. She was in the band performing downstairs and a guy had come down from London to listen to the boy upstairs, but he came in on the wrong floor – and the rest is history…

“I just got lucky” she admits.

“I never expected to keep going for so long. But I’m blessed with a lot of energy, so I just can’t stop.”

The singer, who is best known for her 1983 hit Total Eclipse Of The Heart explains her relevance in today”’s market.

“The way it works in Europe is that the people who were buying my records when I first started have now got children, and their children like the music that they were brought up with. My audience is right across the board, from 18 to my age,” she says, erupting into a hearty belly laugh.

Reminding herself of the artists that influenced her in her youth, Tyler goes on, “I grew up listening to Tina Turner. One of the songs I always use to sing was Mountain Deep, River High. In fact, I put that in my set now. Little did I know that, years later, she’d be covering one of my songs. I did Simply the Best before Tina Turner, but I didn’t have a hit with it.”