To mark the 10th anniversary of the Christmas-carol service in aid of Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy, the soul singer Beverley Knight will sing "Amazing Grace" and Sam Cooke's "A Change is Gonna Come", and will be part of a stellar line-up. David Garrett and Angelis will also perform, and Rufus Sewell, Alice Eve, Catherine Tate, Lindsay Duncan, Jason Isaacs and Trevor McDonald will each give a reading at the event in St Luke's Church in Chelsea. Nordoff-Robbins provides over 30,000 music-therapy sessions a year from its London centre, as well as running projects nationwide.
Knight, 33, began her singing career when she joined the gospel choir of her local church at the age of four. At home, her family often sang together around the piano. "I drove everybody mad with my singing, so a career in the music industry was a natural progression!" says Knight.
Knight started writing songs as a teenager, and was soon offered a record contract, but she put her career on hold to do a degree in theology and philosophy. She eventually released her debut album, The B-Funk, in 1995. After just a decade, she got a lifetime achievement award at the Urban Music Awards in 2004, and as an ambassador to many charities, she was appointed MBE in the Queen's 80th-birthday honours.
"I don't think it would be appropriate for me to sing my own hits at a church carol service," says Knight. "It's all about bringing an inspirational message of hope, of looking forward, of good things around the corner. Sam Cooke's 'A Change is Gonna Come' is one of the most moving songs. And 'Amazing Grace' has more resonance in a church."
Why is charity work such a vital part of her life? "I feel compelled to do things that tug on my heart. I'm active in my charity work, rather than just thinking about someone's plight while painting my toenails. Faith without works is dead."
10th Nordoff-Robbins Christmas Carol Service, St Luke's Church, London SW3 (020-7371 8404), 19 DecemberReuse content