Full hearts of glass

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American singer-songwriter Beth Nielsen Chapman was one of the first performers in the Memorial Hall at the back of Sheffield City Hall when its potential as a music venue was revived in the mid-90s.

Appearing alongside compatriot Annie Roboff, it was the first of a series of concerts she gave in Sheffield with various musicians over the next 20 years that have earned her a devoted following in the area.

As well as dates at the Memorial Hall, there was a memorable night at the Lyceum Theatre (which demonstrated what a wonderful venue it can be for the right type of concert) and, four years ago, the City Hall ballroom.

The twice Grammy-nominated Nashville-based musician and songwriter will be back in the ballroom on Wednesday, March 7, on a tour to coincide with the release of her new album, Hearts Of Glass.

This time she will be alongside Robert Vincent on vocals, guitar and harmonica, Ruth Trimble on keyboards, vocals, bass and percussion and Robbie Taylor on banjo, mandolin, fiddle and vocals.

Robert Vincent, who won Album of the Year at the recent UK Americana Awards for I’ll Make The Most Of My Sins, and Robbie Taylor are opening on the tour.

Hearts of Glass represents another sensitive and powerful rumination by Beth on life and love through the power of song.

She has plenty of stories to tell, too often interspersed with heartbreak. She lost her husband, Ernest, to lymphoma at the age of 50, has battled breast cancer and, most recently, her husband Bob was diagnosed with (treatable) leukaemia.

A collaboration with Olivia Newton John and Amy Sky resulted in LIV ON, an album to help people through difficult times.

“I don’t care how many trophies or hits one can have as a songwriter, there’s nothing that compares to a letter from another human being whose suffering has been lifted because of your song,” Beth said at the time.

She is now in demand as a university speaker on the performing arts and at workshops on creativity, songwriting, grief and healing through art. Her writing has also been informed through being a keen environmentalist.

In her own words, she considers herself a ‘creativity midwife’, passionate about inspiring others to make the most of their creative life.

But it as a singer-songwriter that she has made friends around the world. Her songs have been picked up by Bonnie Raitt, Willie Nelson, Bette Midler, Neil Diamond and Roberta Flack.

Elton John has performed one of her best-known songs, Sand and Water, to honour the memory of Princess Diana. It was written following the death of Ernest.

When she was inducted into the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame in 2016, Beth said: “Creating music has brought me through the tragedy of losing my husband Ernest in 1994 and it has helped heal me on my journey through breast cancer in 2000.

“It’s carved a path in my heart to finding love again with my husband Bob and it has sent me all over the world from sitting on a cardboard box banging out a tune with a family in the township of Soweto to singing for the Queen of England in Scotland this past summer.”

Now she will find a warm welcome as she bangs out a tune in Sheffield.