Nicki French

Nicki French

Nicki French close-up image with a blue and pink/purple background.

Nicki French is a true Eurovision legend, having represented the UK at the 2000 Eurovision competition at the Globe Arena in Stockholm, Sweden. with “Don’t Play That Song Again”.  Nicki finished at number 16 and went on to reach number 34 in the UK charts.  However, Nicki French is so much more than just being a Eurovision legend.


In 1994, Nicki covered “Total Eclipse of the Heart”, a song originally made famous by Bonnie Tyler. The song reached number 5 during a three-month chart run on the UK Singles Chart, selling over 250,000 (UK) copies in the process, and earning a silver sales award.


In the United States, the song reached number 2, spending six months on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and gaining gold certification from the RIAA. The single also reached number 1 in several countries – Japan, Canada, Spain, and Brazil – as well as charting in Australia, Germany, Italy, Mexico, the Netherlands, Denmark, and Norway. “Total Eclipse of the Heart” has sold more than 5 million copies. 


Nicki was born in Cumbria into a musical family, her dad played the drums when he was younger, and her mum played the violin.  Nicki’s brother is very musical as well – a guitarist, a singer, and a fabulous songwriter. The family moved down to Kent when Nicki was four years old. Always a keen singer, one of her early memories was sitting next to the radio, listening to the new chart rundown, and singing along to all the songs, when her Godmother, came in and said to mum and dad, ‘She’ll be a singer when she grows up’!


The first ‘gig’ came at the age of seven, when Nicki was chosen to sing a solo – the first verse of ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’ at the Infants’ School Christmas Concert.  From then on there was no turning back.  A few years later she won the local talent contest, and within the year had joined her first band, Krisp, run by her brother and his friend Kelvin. They worked the most salubrious places – working men’s clubs and holiday camps – wooh!


From the age of 16, Nicki studied Music and Drama at the West Kent College, passing her ‘A’ Levels two years later. At the annual college musical, she played the lead role of Laurey in ‘Oklahoma!’, earning rave reviews for her performance. She then moved up to London and started auditioning for bands and theatre shows.


Nicki started working the pubs and clubs, moving onto gay pubs and clubs a short while later – The Spread Eagle in Shoreditch was her first! However the most exciting show for Nicki was at the Player of the Season annual dinner/dance at Tottenham Hotspur FC – her team! They had just signed a new player and were introducing him to the fans – a player by the name of Paul Gascoigne, and Gazza and all the other players got up on stage with her to perform a couple of songs – a special moment.


Nicki had been working on the gay scene for some time, when she made one of her regular visits to perform in a club in Cardiff, which was also the fateful night she met a certain Mr John Springate, who was to have quite an influence on her career from then on! John and Nicki hit it off straight away, and started what was to become a long association with his recording studio.


Early in 1994 John approached Nicki to be the vocalist on a dance version of ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’ for his friends Gary and David who were starting up a new record company, Energise.  Although at first unsure if it would suit her, she put her vocals down, and the first version was pressed up, and available on 12” vinyl.  A few months later Mike Stock took on the track, re-jigged it and made it into the massive worldwide hit it was – the first release, and success, of his new record company, Love This Records.


‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’, produced by Mike Stock and Matt Aitken, became the first big hit of 1995 by a new artist, reaching number five in the UK charts. It went to number two on the Billboard Hot 100, the highest placing in the UK by a UK artist since the 1980s, and spent six months in the chart there. It also reached number one in Australia, Japan, Brazil, Israel, Spain, Holland and Canada. Although she didn’t manage to fit in all the places, Nicki started touring extensively around the world with Gavin, finding that ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’, and Nicki’s lively stage show, were a huge success wherever they went. The touring has never really stopped either, and Nicki absolutely loves it!


To cap a great 1995, Nicki’s success continued at the annual Dance Music Authority Magazine Awards in the USA, where she was honoured to win all three awards she was nominated for – Best Female Vocalist, Single of the Year and Most Promising Newcomer.


Nicki managed to achieve the often elusive international recording success, and in the summer of 1995 released her debut album, ‘Secrets’, which sold over 50,000 copies in its first week of sale in the USA. A second album in 1997, ‘French Revolution’, includes tracks co-written by Nicki.


In March 1996, Nicki embarked on her first visit to Brazil, totally unaware of the extent of her success in the South American territories, where no less than nine of her songs have been huge hits, particularly ‘Did You Ever Really Love me?’ (her personal favourite) and ‘Te Amo’.  Brazil is still one of Nicki’s favourite places to do shows, where she performs with a live band organised and run by Gino Martini, who has been Nicki’s guitarist over there since the very first tour.


Nicki carried on doing live shows around the world, then in August 1999 had another call from John Springate – the song he had for her this time was entitled ‘Don’t Play That Song Again’, written by John and Gerry Shephard, and they were planning to enter it for Song for Europe – was she interested? John had never realised that Nicki was a HUGE fan of the Eurovision Song Contest – he does now! They recorded the track in two takes, and the song was put forward for selection. It then went through all the elimination rounds, and after the Radio 2 listeners voted it into the final four, Nicki ended up back in the Top of the Pops studio again, to perform the song live on BBC1. That was 20 February 2000 – a day she will remember forever. 


Nicki comfortably won the public’s vote – and support – thus fulfilling her childhood dream of representing her country at Eurovision in Stockholm, an experience she classes as ‘the most magical week of my life’.  Although it didn’t win, the UK delegation did win one award – for Best Party during the week of rehearsals! Nicki’s popularity in Sweden since then is such that she was one of the headline acts at Stockholm Pride in 2001.  In the Summer of 2003, she was invited to return and performed again – this time with her live band and singers. The audience reaction was amazing – even better than 2001, proving that there’s nothing like proper ‘live’ music.


In the past few years, Nicki has been in demand for her acting, as well as her singing skills, and has managed to combine the two with some wonderful theatre roles, playing eight different parts in the UK tour of ‘Annie’; three of the four characters in ‘Menopause the Musical’ (UK & Ireland tours); Ethel Merman in ‘Gee, But It’s Good to be Here – An Audience With Ethel Merman’ (Trent House, Newcastle); Helga ten Dorp in ‘Deathtrap’ (Brookside Theatre, Romford); Sarah in ‘Dirty’ (UK tour).  At the beginning of 2020 she began touring the UK as Power Woman in a brand new show – ‘Menopause the Musical 2 – Cruising Through Menopause’.  The tour was going incredibly well, but had to stop due to Covid-19.  The tour restarted in February 2022 for a scheduled six-month run across the UK & Ireland.   


Nicki is also now popular at panto season, and has played Fairy Godmother, Good Queen, Dandini AND, in recent years, turned her hand to playing the ‘baddie’ roles, which she loves, co-starring with Bobby Crush, Bernie Clifton, Matt Lapinskas, Collabro’s Jamie Lambert, Syd Little, Leah Bracknell, Neil & Christine Hamilton, Matt Evers and Jonathan Ansell in various productions.  She won fantastic reviews for her performance as the Ice Queen in ‘Santa Claus the Musical’ at the beautiful New Theatre Royal, Portsmouth for the 2016 season, and had her first experience of ‘flying’ onstage in 2017 at the Queen’s Theatre, Barnstaple, where she played Witch Vin Rouge in their production of ‘Beauty and the Beast’.  She also had a ball playing the Wicked Witch of the West back in her birthplace, in Carlisle’s panto of ‘The Wizard of Oz’ in 2018. 

In 2019, Nicki played the deliciously wicked role of Malevolent in Beauty and the Best, in Fareham alongside Matt Lapinskas. An enforced break came in 2020 following the global Coronavirus pandemic, however all was not lost as Nicki returned to the Queen’s Theatre in Barnstaple alongside Gareth Gates for a series of ‘Christmas Cracker’ variety style shows.

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