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Byline: John Dingwall

IF Susan Boyle tops the American charts with her debut single, another Scots singer who managed the same feat will be just as thrilled.

Lulu, who was just 15 when she went to No. 1 in the States in 1967, adores SuBo and says the 48-year-old, from Blackburn,West Lothian, has "a rare wee voice".

It's quite an accolade from the 60-year-old who topped the American Billboard charts with To Sir With Love.

But she admits it could be even harder for Susan to cope with the pressures of fame.

Lulu said: "It is hard to say if Susan Boyle mania is justified. "It's amazing.

It steps over into celebrity and that is hard to deal with. In a way, it would be better to just let her sing her song and go home. But you have to take both.

"I just hope she is going to be able to handle it because it's not easy. Everyone can trip up and have their hiccups, but it is about how you recover.

"When I found fame, it was very exciting and scary at the same time. I was carried off in a whirlwind. I had a very nice manager who was a mother figure, so I was fortunate.

"It's hard to do the work if you don't have the right people around you."

Susan will appear on tonight's America's Got Talent final in the first step towards becoming a recording star in the US, performing the Rolling Stones classic, Wild Horses.

Lulu, born Marie McDonald McLaughlin Lawrie, became an international star with hit singles and albums, TV shows and film roles more than 40 years ago.

"Music has changed since I started," she said.

"Young women today have to have the perfect body so that they can strip off. I could never have done that in my day. My father would never have allowed that.

"They also need to be able to dance up a storm. If they don't sell loads of records with their first single, they are dropped by their label. It's a different world.

"I would never discourage anybody. If you love to sing, go for it. But it's not easy.

"I could never have stripped off or straddled poles or a chair.

"Although let me tell you, in private with girlfriends, that's exactly what I do. They giggle and tell me I could have done it."

Later this year, Lulu is going on tour with divas Chaka Khan and Anastacia for shows she claims will be all about woman power.

"The tour is a bit different and that's what I wanted to do. Shake it up a bit," Lulu explained.

"Anastacia and Chaka were a great choice because they have great big voices. I called them up and both said, 'Hell, yeah'."

Admitting the Here Come The Girls gigs, which include Edinburgh's Usher Hall on November 21 and Glasgow's Royal Concert Hall on December 10, are a celebration of womanhood, Lulu said: "We will be sharing tears of laughter and beautiful sad moments, and we'll be sharing fun and dancing. It's very important to touch the heart.

"When I go to a show, it is important to have a seat, but I get up on my feet as soon as the music starts. I want to feel as a punter that I want to be up on stage with them. And that's the kind of show I wanted to create.

"We will be on stage together the whole time.We think we'll add a little bit of mischief, a little bit of laughter and high-octane get-upand-dance energy and a feelgood factor. It's three women who have lived a lot and we are hard-working girls. It's nearly three generations, but we all like the same music."

The tour will be Lulu's last before she adopts a new role ... as a granny.

Her son, Jordan Frieda, is expecting his first child with venture capitalist wife Alana Rice in December.

"He says he is coming with me on tour, but I told him he might not be able to," said Lulu.

"She is expecting on December 24 but the baby could come early.

"I won't believe I'm going to be a granny until I see the baby face to face.

It's something I've thought about but it's not reality to me. Ask me next year how I feel."

AND she can't wait to come to Scotland on tour. "I am returning to Scotland to be with ma ain folk," she said.

"It's always the same for me. I want to be loved by my own people. It's exciting to come home, nostalgic and a little bit nerve-wracking.

"I came up to Scotland a couple of weeks ago and went to the Barras. I couldn't believe it. I always thought the Barras were huge. It's not.

"I got a taxi driver to take me. He was great. The taxi drivers in Glasgow are the most polite and helpful in the world. I am so well travelled that it is very apparent to me. They get out of the taxi, open the door for you and take your back into the house, hotel or TV studio.

"I thought, my God, Glasgow men are gentlemen.

"I went to see my Aunty Jeannie and said to the taxi driver to take me for a wee nostalgic ride. The driver kept saying, 'Remember this, Lulu, remember that.' It was hysterical.

"Then one taxi driver told me his ma said I was wearing jeans with holes in them and that she thought that wee Lulu had fallen on hard times. He said, 'The thing is, Lulu, she was serious.'

"And he told me somebody he knew had gone out with me when I was only 14. But my dad wouldn't have let me go out with someone at that age.

"I said, 'I probably knew him but I don't know if I was winching him.' It was Chinese whispers and embellishment, which is allowed."

While Anastacia and Chaka Khan can rightly regard themselves as icons, Lulu stops short when it comes to describing herself like that. She says the greatest female performer of them all is Madonna.

"Icon?You can never use that word about yourself," she said.

"What would people think if I called myself an icon? People would think there was something wrong with me. Madonna is in a world of her own. There is nobody to compare with her. She makes the rules.

"Lady GaGa is a great songwriter and has a great voice. That whole thing about her sensationalism belies the fact that underneath it, she has talent."

And she considers X Factor winner Leona Lewis as one of the best female singers of recent years. "Leona is very dignified," she said. "I love her voice."

Lulu is a big fan of X Factor, American Idol, and Britain and America's Got Talent.

"I watch all these shows," she said. "I was on American Idol a couple of seasons ago and mentored the girls. It was great. I am mad about the new judge Ellen DeGeneres. I'm thrilled because I Sky+ her show every day.

"But you feel sorry for a lot of them on the current series of X Factor because they are rubbish.

"I get embarrassed. Who told them they could do that? It's not fair.

"If you're doing it for a laugh, that's one thing. But if you are at all sensitive, it is not easy.

"You have to have a tough skin in this business and if you don't, you have to develop it."


GIRLS ON TOUR: Lulu with Anastacia and Chaka Khan. Right, Susan Boyle arrives in LA and is mobbed by fans IN WITH A SHOUT: Lulu sings at the 1969 Eurovision Song Contest
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Sep 16, 2009
Previous Article:BEATING THE BLUES.

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