Any child of the 80's will remember Jaki Graham. Big hair, an even bigger smile, with a lovable Brummie accent, she was a frequent presence on the pop charts with her easy breezy soul ditties such as ‘Mated’, ‘Round and Round’ and ‘Breaking Away’. Then in 1986 we noticed a sudden change. Ditching the girl next door image in favour of red lips and red latex, a more seemingly confident Jaki emerged in the video for her single ‘Set Me Free’. And what a choon it was… well at least it seemed that way at the time. Okay, so in essence it was incredibly cheesy, and what I mistook for confidence now screams awkwardness and slight desperation. But nonetheless Ms Graham we salute you being one of the most successful black female vocalists this country has produced, paving the way for the Mica's, Gabrielle's and Beverley Knight's of this world.
It’s so interesting to look back and watch the likes of Jaki perform and note how different they are to today’s crop of singers who seem so at ease with the whole concept of celebrity. It’s quite heart-warming to see how unsure and vulnerable she looks, almost as if she stumbled accidentally into stardom, opposed to plotting and planning every step to red carpet and MTV glory since the age of 5. *Sigh*. Oh how I miss the eighties, we all seemed so innocent then.