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Hazel O’Connor

2010 marks BREAKING GLASS’ award-winning star Hazel O’Connor’s 30th anniversary in the music and entertainment industry. Striding into the spotlight with the cult movie in 1980, Hazel immediately became an iconic figure. Celebrating the film’s 30th anniversary, her ageless songs from the soundtrack – Eighth Day, Will You and Big Brother – seem even more relevant in our present time.

Back in the day, 1980, it was pretty rare to find a singer, writer and actress all rolled into one. “Nobody quite knew what bag to put me in,” says Hazel. But perhaps she blazed a trail for the female multimedia stars that came along in the mid ‘80s.

“Nowadays it’s totally acceptable to wear black bra and mini skirt on TV shows; to talk about female orgasms; be a film star, singer and composer, not to mention an authentic ‘Girlpower’ advocate,” she laughs.

Hazel had serious problems with her pre-BREAKING GLASS record label which culminated in four separate court cases in 1982 (well documented in the book about music business rip-offs Expensive Habits by Simon Garfield). Due to legal restraints she was no longer able to make new records, so she launched into her first theatre acting job in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest alongside John Sessions and Tim McInnerny at the Royal Exchange in Manchester.

Eventually in 1984 she made a new album (Smile) with RCA Records and her new pal George Michael played the love interest in the video for the first single from the album (Don’t Touch Me). In the early ‘80s Hazel was romantically linked with many high profile performers including Midge Ure, actor Jon Finch, and Hugh Cornwell of The Stranglers. “But all the press wanted to do was to make something of the kiss George and I shared in the video, but as we all know now, that was a pretty daft idea,” says Hazel.

Hazel then appeared in her first West End musical The Girlfriends, and in the mid ‘80s, wrote and performed her own musical Sing Out Sister at the Riverside studios in London alongside Clare Hirst who is now Hazel’s band mate in the Bluja Project.

After the TV airing of the 5-part BBC drama Fighting Back in which Hazel starred and gained rave reviews, she left the UK to try her luck in Hollywood where she married, toured with her US band, and was about to start work on a TV sitcom pilot when she was diagnosed with two types of skin cancer. She decided to move to Ireland where the sun wasn’t going to be an ongoing health issue and which was also the home of her favourite agent Louis Walsh and he kept her touring Ireland all through 1990. This was a lucky break for Hazel as she had never received one penny of royalty payments from Breaking Glass or her other three albums. Ireland remains Hazel’s home.

In the early ‘90s Hazel made three albums with Sony and toured extensively through the UK, Germany, Ireland, France and Holland. By the mid ‘90s she received her first ever royalties for Breaking Glass and her most famous song Will You was also resolved after 13 years of litigation.

By 1998 she decided to write and perform her now highly acclaimed show BEYOND BREAKING GLASS alongside top Irish harp player and composer Cormac De Barra.
This show has run successfully ever since in the US, Germany, Holland, Ireland and the UK.

This year is going to be a celebration of all the genres of music. The first concert will at Komedia in Brighton on 18th March with The Bluja Project. It will be an intimate event where Hazel will no doubt recount many stories and sing Breaking Glass favourites as well as more recent material and beloved covers such as George Michael’s One More Try and Snow Patrol’s Chasing Cars performed in her own unique style.

Besides the Bluja Project dates, Hazel and sax player Clare Hirst will join forces with Coventry rock band The Subterraneans to play shows and rock festivals throughout the year performing all the Breaking Glass tunes. The first HAZEL SINGS BEAKING GLASS show is at the Assembly in Leaminton Spa on 25th March.

Hazel and Cormac De Barra will also be doing a London run of the BEYOND BREAKING GLASS theatre show in the autumn.

Hazel is also planning her no-holds-barred autobiography later this year.

Hazel says: “The idea of celebrating all of the genres in which I work, is not to confuse people, it celebrates the fact that I consider I blazed a trail in terms of direct selling music, and my audience know my later music because I’ve constantly played live all these years. That’s the celebration!”

Hazel’s new album is called The Bluja Project and will be available by November 2011.