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27 November 2014

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June 2005
Geri's dream goes on
When Anjool met Geri.
Anjool Malde meets the most successful British female recording artist of all time at The Oxford Union.

Music index

Geri Halliwell

Oxford Union

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The Spice Girls, the biggest girl-group in history, have been back in the headlines this week amidst talks of a potential reunion at the star-studded Live 8 charity concert.

Recently, a growing crossover has been seen from music to politics in such a way, with the likes of Bob Geldof, Bono from U2 and Coldplay’s Chris Martin actively involved in issues such as ‘Make Poverty History’, ‘Drop the Debt’ and ‘Make Trade Fair’.

Geri herself has been a UN Goodwill Ambassador promoting campaigns such as breast cancer awareness, and I ask her if it’s almost a moral duty for influential musicians such as herself to take a stance with such issues.

“I don’t agree that it’s a duty”, she says, “but I believe that giving is important – it’s a gift to be able to help other people.

If you’re in an influential position then it can act as a bigger gesture, but the power of giving is the same whether it’s a big charity or a small donation - it feels good so everyone wins.”

“Life is really short and the tiniest steps can make the biggest impact”, referring to the work of Comic Relief co-founder Richard Curtis along with Bob Geldof.

Speaking at The Oxford Union of her story of how “to dream, to try, to achieve”, she says that when growing up the media taught her that she “could make a difference if I was rich, powerful, successful and famous”, and this could be possible through music: “Music was my great escape, it was going to be my dream ticket.”

After various stints as everything from an aerobics instructor to a gameshow hostess in Turkey whilst trying to break into the business however, “going back to education was one of the most rewarding, happiest times of my life”.

Strongly believing that “knowledge is power, it gives you choice in life”, she praises Oxford for being “a place of discovery”.

Finally, the big break came, with the Spice Girls smashing numerous records as they sold in excess of 50 million albums and 30 million singles: “There was purpose and there was drive.
We were celebrating female solidarity in our music…but after four years, I realised my purpose and passion had evolved and decided to leave.”

In her own right, she’s been the most successful of the group, with four number one hits in the UK, with her third album ‘Passion’ out next week.

“I’ve sometimes found it better to follow your heart rather than your head”, referring to the likes of ‘Mi Chico Latino’ as prime examples.

“If I have to chase something purely on power, prestige or finance, it never works - there needs to be creativity and altruism in there too. Perfectionism kills art – it’s paralysing and a waste of time.”

As for the ongoing debacles within the industry: “I don’t like the music business. I love music, but not the industry – it’s very cut-throat and fickle.

"I’ve seen managers with twenty-five years of experience, and talented A&R guys get fired because just one record didn’t do so well. Right now with online downloading being so popular the business is in a very vulnerable position.”

*Geri’s single ‘Desire’ is out this week, and her third album ‘Passion’ is out on Monday June 6th.

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