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'I am fat, it's a fact, like I am 46 or I am tall'.

Alison Moyet was one of the biggest stars of the '80s and she is unafraid to admit that description could be taken one of two ways. In that distant decade, defined by Gordon Gecko's 'Greed is good' philosophy of superficiality, it was always obvious that Moyet was succeeding despite her image.

"I am fat, it's a fact, like I am 46 or I am tall," she says with absolute comfort and confidence.

I raised the subject of weight because I wondered whether she felt things had improved in the 27 years since her debut.

In an era where The Gossip's larger than life vocalist Beth Ditto has posed nude on the front of NME, are we any less superficial about the issue of weight?

"I think there are very few areas we are still allowed to sit down and sneer at these days," she began.

"You can't be racist anymore and you can't mention someone's creed or disability.

"But I think there are three residual areas where people still get bullied; being fat, female and gay."

All three of those adjectives could be applied to Ditto, for Moyet it's two out of three; she is married to David and they have three children.

Their respective successes are a victory for substance over style in two equally image conscious decades.

Moyet arrived in 1981 as half of electronica duo Yazoo and then went solo with her debut album Alf in 1984; it went straight in at No 1 and made her one of the defining female vocalists of her generation.

But Moyet says the media hasn't learned one jot from her experiences and is still emotionally damaging people now in the way it damaged her then.

"It was horrible," she said from her family's Hertfordshire home of 21 years.

"I didn't want to go out.

"I felt like every fault people found in me was further confirmation that I was a rubbish human being

"You imagine when you are young that by being famous you will be loved and get the acceptance you were missing as a child, that thing that has always evaded you.

"It's actually very lonely.

"But while it's absolutely humiliating to have people ridicule you, it also completely inured me to it.

"When you are called something so often it loses its sting and then you feel more surprised that other people lack the strength to deal with it.

"I just think 'Fat, schmat', why should I be upset by it?

"What upsets me is not the specific word, but that the only way for some people to feel better is at the expense of another human being."

Regardless of the sneering, Moyet has grown into a strong, confident individual with a well-balanced attitude to other human fears.

"I have never had the fear of age," laughed Moyet, who has sung with late greats such as Dusty Springfield and James Brown. "Maybe that's because I was never a young beauty that felt my youth trickling away from me.

"In fact I have always rounded my age up, I'm 46 now but have said I'm 50 quite a few times, I'm contrary that way.

"It's a ridiculous thing that we fear something we should aspire to.

"We shouldn't be saying 40 is the new 30 to make us feel better, we should be arguing the value of age."

With age comes experience, particularly for great singers, and when Moyet performs in Cardiff next Friday she will do so with an expert voice that has been honed over a variety of disciplines.

In 2006 she starred in a West End play with Dawn French called Smaller and in 2001 became a West End musical performer, taking the role of Mamma Morton in Chicago, an experience she says taught her new things about her voice.

"It always used to be that it was at the end of a tour that my voice felt strongest but because you are doing eight shows a week you develop stamina.

"It also inures you to stage fright, which allowed me to relax my vocal chords."

Those experiences have reinvigorated Moyet who says this decade has been one of the most consistently busy periods of her career.

Her enjoyment is clear on her latest album The Turn, a lush whirlpool of dramatic songs, swirling with lethal undercurrents of melody.

Despite its quality, the album entered the charts at No 21, her worst ever chart position in a 10 album solo career, but she is happily resigned to the fact that she is no longer a 'pop star'.

"I can't come back to what I was before," she says breezily.

No, she's something much bigger than that.

Alison Moyet performs at St David's Hall, Cardiff on Friday January 25. Tickets cost pounds 25 from 029 2087 8444
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jan 18, 2008
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