Having enjoyed huge success with The Saturdays, Una Healy returned to her roots with her debut solo album The Waiting Game and recently set off on her debut UK solo headline tour.  The run of intimate dates on her Voice Inside Of Me Tour included a Manchester gig at the Deaf Institute, as well as headline shows at the likes of King Tuts and London’s Lexington as she performed at some of the finest venues in the UK and Ireland.

We caught up with Una Healy to find out what it’s been like building up towards this moment and her enthusiasm for hitting the road was immediately apparent.  “I’m so excited to be heading out on my first solo tour, I can’t wait to be playing in venues that I haven’t played in before” she declares straight away.

“I almost feel like a new artist starting solo”

The venues mark a substantial change in size and atmosphere for the singer/songwriter who previously performed at the likes of Manchester’s O2 Apollo, Liverpool’s Echo Arena and other huge venues with her Saturdays colleagues.  But in reality, you can’t beat the intimate feel of the likes of Manchester’s Deaf Institute, something which Una is keen to tap into.  “I almost feel like a new artist starting solo, so I think it’s really important to play intimate venues” she explains, “the music connects with people in a smaller setting. As a music fan, I personally enjoy seeing gigs in an acoustic setting as it feels more up close and personal.”

The build up towards the tour has been deceptively long.  Whilst for fans it may only seem a short time since she released The Waiting Game, with supporting slots for Ward Thomas’ UK tour and performances at London’s C2C Music Festival keeping them satisfied whilst awaiting a headline run, for Una this has been going on a lot longer and the moment has finally arrived.  “I feel like all of the writing and recording I’ve been doing over the past 5 years has led up to this moment” she tells us, “I’m so excited to be out doing what I love, performing to an audience. I’ve been in rehearsals with my band over the past week, reworking and refining the songs so can’t wait to get out on the road!”

It’s certainly been a full-on period for the singer/songwriter – juggling family life with writing, recording, touring, TV appearances, but she seems to have handled it with ease, “Like every working parent, Ben and I just juggle it together, we’re very very hands on and we love it. Our parents really help us out too” she explains.

Whilst Una Healy’s Voice Inside Of Me Tour marks her first headline tour since the release of her debut solo album, she promises (and then delivers at the gig) that there will be a few surprises thrown in.  Playing her acoustic guitar and joined by bandmates Mitch (keys) and Joe (bass) she performs hits from the album including Battlelines, Stay My Love and Staring at the Moon, she drops in a couple of Saturday’s covers including Issues and even previews some tracks from her next album which she’s already been working hard on.

Amongst the tracks from her upcoming album is her latest single Never See Me Cry, a song which she confesses “has more of a Saturdays sound but with a country twist” – and it’s a move which works.  “With this next chapter, I wanted some dance element in there as well as the country influences” she explains before telling us that work on the new album is going really well, “I’m always writing and recording and very lucky to work with some great producers and co – writers. I’m writing all the time and have so many ready that I can’t wait to release” she adds.

“my phone is full of voice notes with random lyrics or sound”

As for the writing process, Una admits that inspiration comes to her at the most random of times.  “I always get melody or lyric ideas pop up in my head at the strangest of times, so my phone is full of voice notes with random lyrics or sound for a potential song!” (hopefully it’s backed up well!) and that she’s always open to co-writing, “I love co – writing as two – heads are always better than one, so I then develop ideas further in the writing session” she adds.

Whilst preparing for the tour, Una also found time to become was involved in recording with NHS Voices.  It was an experience which followed on from a recent health-scare for her son Tadhg and brought home the importance of the NHS to the singer/songwriter.  “I loved taking part in recording the NHS single at the legendary Abbey Road studios” she elaborates, “It was brilliant meeting some of the NHS choir who not only work tirelessly as doctors and nurses for the NHS – but also donate their time to the NHS choir which raises funds for healthcare charities as well as awareness of the NHS’s incredible work. I recently experienced first-hand how lucky we are to have the NHS in this country. My son Tadhg suffered from Chicken Pox which led to fairy serious complications which the NHS thankfully sorted out before they become dangerous. My daughter Aoife also recently broke her arm and was treated so brilliantly by NHS doctor and nurses.”

Manchester gigs - Una Healy at the Deaf Institute

Naturally, we’re keen to know if Una has any plans to tour America or collaborate with any Nashville acts.  Her style, sound and vibe would, no doubt, appeal to audiences across the Atlantic as much as they do to fans on this side and it appears an attempt at the American market may well be on the cards.  “I’d really love to spend more time in Nashville” she tells us, “I got to go for 2 days last year and performed at the legendary Bluebird Café and performed Stay My Love with Sam Palladio. I’d really like to spend more time over there, we have a potential move to the US on the cards for Ben’s rugby career so I’d love to perform some shows over there.”  With her stunning debut album under her belt, follow-up already in progress and a headline tour cementing her status, we have no doubt that fans on both sides of the Atlantic will continue to take her to heart.