She may be best known to queer viewers for her role as Detective Sergeant Sam Murray in the lesbian drama series Lip Service, but Heather Peace isn’t just an actress. The openly gay 37-year old also fosters a burgeoning music career, following the release of her debut album, Fairytale, last year. The actor-turned-songstress spoke to the Star Observer about her upcoming Aussie visit, performing with an idol and her loyal lesbian fan base:

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Tell us about your upcoming Mardi Gras visit – what are you most looking forward to?

“I’m most excited about playing on the stage on Fair Day, because I actually went to Fair Day when I had only just come out back in 1998! To be coming back to play there is something I could only dream of at that time.”

You released a cover of the Bette Midler hit The Rose some twelve years before your album came out. Did it take you some time to develop confidence with your own songwriting?

Totally. I have always written and performed, but for a while I was just performing covers and I’d throw in a one-off original song nervously hoping everyone didn’t go for a toilet break at that point. Then actually the night I met my manager she said, if you wrote those songs, then brilliant, drop the covers and just sing those, that’s what your audience wants!

My first album Fairytales is a diary of quite a rough time in my life, so I did feel a little bit vulnerable playing these songs at first as some lyrics are quite revealing. But I get so many messages from fans who say that particular songs really summed up situations in their own lives that I realised that really the themes of bad relationships, love and loss and trying to be a better person are just things that everyone can relate to.

Heather PeaceHave you found your Lip Service fanbase has carried across to your musical career?

None of this would be happening without Lip Service. The show really struck a chord with people and blew up internationally and without it I wouldn’t be coming to Australia. I’ve always been a musician and I was gigging on a small scale with very small budgets so Lip Service really made people look into what else I was doing.

You’re the only openly gay cast member in Lip Service – is there a certain responsibility that comes along with that?

“I felt the pressure at first because the character was such a good egg. You worry about putting a foot wrong. I became aware that things I said would maybe mean things to people. I have to be honest when I say I wasn’t entirely comfortable with the pressure. I’ve been a professional actress for 16 years so I was a little bit out of my depth thinking: ‘What’s so different now?’ It was overwhelming. But gradually you adapt, and I’ve accepted all of the responsibilities that go with it. I’m proud to be on things like the Pink List in the UK.”

There’s a video on your website of you and the gorgeous Alison Moyet duetting on her hit Whispering Your Name. How did that come about?

“Twitter! I was following Alison on Twitter, because she’s a total legend. I asked her if she’d like to attend my album launch. She sent a huge bunch of flowers with a message saying ‘I know how nerve wracking a first album can be, good luck, love Alison’. Then she came to the launch and we really got on well, so I asked her if she’d sing on my final night of the UK tour. It was just amazing. Alison is very down to earth and almost a little shy of the attention she gets. She’s very charming and very, very funny. Oh, and she swears like a trooper!”

INFO: Heather Peace tours Australia from February 10-24, including performances at Mardi Gras Fair Day and the Women Say Something forum. Full dates at www.heatherpeace.com

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