Suzanne Prentice can't help having mixed feelings about her latest album. The Kiwi singer is delighted to have made the CD – her first in 15 years – but she can't help feeling sad that her biggest fan isn't around to enjoy it.
Suzanne's mum Rose, who had guided her career from when she began singing at age 12, died in February – before the album, I'll Do It All Over Again, could be finished. "She was the one who encouraged me to do another album," says Suzanne (52). "It took me five years and she was so pleased that I was doing it."
Rose (86) suffered from heart problems and had lost her sight. She didn't get to hear the finished version, but she did get a chance to listen briefl y to a couple of the songs from her home in Invercargill. "I held a cellphone up in the studio so she could hear," says Suzanne, her eyes filling with tears at the memory. "I'm so glad she got to hear some of it at least."
Suzanne describes Rose as a great mum and "the backbone of my career". Her mother was with her constantly after she found fame on New Zealand TV talent show New Faces 40 years ago and had an enormous hit with the song Funny Face.
Rose and Suzanne's dad Bob helped manage her career. Rose travelled around New Zealand and overseas with Suzanne when the Invercargill-based teen was still too young to go off on her own. "I remember when I was at school, I would finish on Friday, fly up to Auckland, work the weekend and be back by Sunday evening so I could go to school," recalls Suzanne. "Sometimes I'd go off to Australia to work for the weekend and my mum was always there with me."
When Suzanne married her husband Steve and become a mother herself to Andrea (34) and Blair (31), Rose would help with childcare so Suzanne could continue performing. As well as singing, Rose taught her daughter valuable lessons, such as how to sum people up, and she also helped to bolster Suzanne's confidence.
Suzanne says she's not a born entertainer. In the early days of her career, she found it hard to get up in front of people. "I didn't love it. I stuck with it and as I got older I started to enjoy it, but performing has never been a natural thing for me – it's something I've been able to conquer."
Suzanne still performs regularly and has written two autobiographies and a series of children's books. After taking up body building in her forties, Suzanne still does weight training, although she hasn't been competing. "Life is very busy," says Suzanne, now a grandmother of two,"but I'm glad I made the time to do the album."
Suzanne's delighted with the CD and hopes her mum would approve. "I think Mum would be proud," smiles Suzanne.
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