Beverley Knight has said she felt she was “maybe too dark” to find success in the music industry.
The West End star said the music business had been full of “young white lads playing guitars looking at their shoes” when she recorded her debut single in 1994 aged 21.
The 46-year-old, who has released a bevvy of acclaimed soul albums, said she had felt like “a square peg in a round hole”.
“It was easier to market someone who was much lighter, with more European features,” she told Hello! magazine.
She added: “I’ve always been an optimistic, happy and driven person, and I was very secure about myself in my music.
“But I was a boffin. And I was insecure about how I looked.
“I felt I had all the things that were needed – strong music and vocals – except what a star was meant to look like.
“Then I started to put on weight in my mid 20s, which made me feel sluggish. I just felt terrible about my appearance.”
Knight, who is celebrating 25 years in the music industry, said she only found true confidence in middle age.
She told the magazine: “It took years and years, but now, in my late 40s, I’m secure.
“If people try to tell you what you should be doing, at this age, you can slap them down very quickly. There’s a respect that’s naturally afforded to you.”
Fresh from her pantomime debut as the Fairy Godmother in Cinderella in 2017, Knight is about to embark on a 10-date UK tour singing the songs of Stevie Wonder.
The full interview can be read in Hello magazine, out today.