In 1983, Tyler’s fifth album, “Faster than the Speed of Night,” entered the UK album charts at No. 1, making Tyler a Guinness World Record holder as the first-ever British female solo artist to have an album enter the UK chart at the top spot. The album generated an instant worldwide hit, “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” which reached No.1 in the UK, France, Australia and the US.
In 2003, her duet with Kareen Antonn on “Si Demain,” a French and English bilingual version of “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” hit No. 1 on music charts in France and stayed there for 12 weeks, selling a total of 2 million copies across Europe.
Tyler’s upcoming studio album is currently in the works, and the Welsh rock diva has already embarked on warm-up tours with concerts across the globe. One of those gigs will take place on July 6 in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC) as part of the ongoing 12th Gazimağusa (Famagusta) International Culture and Art Festival. But before rocking Northern Cyprus, Tyler spoke to Today’s Zaman in an exclusive interview.
As a legendary voice of rock ballads, you have built a career of over 30 years. Do any of your songs still excite you on stage?
Whenever I sing “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” the way people sing along with me still excites me. It’s one of the songs that audiences know all the lyrics to and they sing along with me and it makes me so happy. People also know my songs “Holding out for a Hero” and “Lost in France” and this gives me so much joy on stage.
What significance does “Total Eclipse of the Heart” hold for you?
Many people know that it was written by Jim Steinman, but he also directed the video and it became the top-played video on MTV in the year it was released. I know a lot of people chose this song to be played in their weddings -- even some of my friends. I don’t know whether you have it in your country but on the reality show “Big Brother” in Britain people in the house competed with each other singing “Total Eclipse of the Heart” all day long. I feel so happy to see that this song is still so popular.
You have a unique voice. In 1977 you were diagnosed with nodules on your vocal chords and the ensuing story is really surprising. Could you recount this story?
It may happen to many singers; I was diagnosed with nodules, too. I was not allowed to talk for six weeks, but I couldn’t help myself talking, I couldn’t follow the doctor’s orders. Then I came up with this husky voice of mine. I thought it was the end of my career. About six months later, I was in the studio recording “It’s a Heartache” and everyone in the studio was like “Oh gosh, you put a lot of emotion [into the song]”; and “It’s a Heartache” became my first hit ever.
“It’s a Heartache” opened the doors to the US music market for you. So do you think you express yourself best singing torch songs?
I know I express myself best singing love songs, and Jim Steinman gave me my rock style, which I have always wanted. I can express myself best putting a lot of emotion into singing rock songs.
You started your career at the age of 18 in a talent contest, singing Mary Hopkins’ hit “Those Were the Days.” Who encouraged you to participate in that contest and singing in general?
My mother was the only one who encouraged and inspired me for singing. She was singing all the time in the house, playing records also. She was my inspiration, now I am looking at her picture sighing.
You grew up listening to the Motown sound and the likes of Janis Joplin and Tina Turner. What do you think about the recent music scene?
I am still a big fan of Tina Turner, but currently I feel so excited about the way [the neo-soul singer-songwriter] Duffy sings. She has an excellent voice. She is a Welsh singer, too, and she has beautiful songs. Amy Winehouse is a very talented songwriter and singer but I don’t understand why she is being so self-destructive.
Which celebrities do you have as friends?
Maybe you will be surprised but Catherine Zeta Jones is my husband’s cousin and she is so sweet. I performed at her wedding in New York. She is Welsh like me.
Legendary names of the ‘80s have been making successful comebacks recently one after another. Cyndi Lauper’s new single reached No. 1 on club charts in the US; Paula Abdul hit the dance charts again and all of them are collaborating with dance producers. Do you think you could also make dance versions of your songs?
One of the most popular producers in Germany proposed exactly the same project you are speaking about. Why not? I didn’t know that Cyndi Lauper was on the charts again, but I have already started to work on my new album.
Your duet in 2003 with Kareen Antonn on “Si demain” sold more than 2 million copies throughout Europe. How did it feel to become so successful again with this song?
It was number one for 12 weeks in France, and I enjoyed this success much more this time. When it was a hit in 1983, I had to work hard for promotion all around, and had concerts all the time. I was nervous also. Now, I am more confident and enjoy every single moment of my career. The new video shot in Montreal for the French version is so beautiful and romantic, with scenes of snow everywhere.
In 2007 you recorded a song for the project “Over the Rainbow.” What was the purpose of this project?
It was a charity album project for disabled children. On the album, each artist was supposed to choose a song from a popular musical, and I picked a song from one of the musicals I love most, “Jesus Christ Superstar.” I recorded the song “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” for the project.
I know you are collaborating with Jim Stein again for your upcoming album. When do you think you will release it?
We are trying to finish our recordings before the summer of 2009. So far we have recorded only four songs. Jim is a busy man. But I am taking my time because I would like to have very special songs in the end. So it takes time, but it is going to rock.
You are now on warm-up tours for your upcoming album and you will perform in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus on Sunday night at the International Famagusta (Magusa) Culture and Art Festival. What would you like to say to the Turkish audience?
I am going to keep on singing. I have no intention of retiring. Actually, I always wonder whether people know my songs in the different countries I visit. I feel nervous over whether they will sing along with me or not. My concert is going to rock people and it’s going to be full of energy.