Yorkshire homecoming for Star Trek's musical Lady Stewart
'You can tell a Yorkshireman...but you can't tell him much', giggles New York singer songwriter Sunny Ozell. And she should know.
She is married to one of the most famous Yorkshireman on the planet, if not the universe.
Sunny is the wife of Mirfield-born Star Trek and X-Men movies superstar Sir Patrick Stewart and the couple now have homes in Brooklyn and London.
But she is excited about a very special ‘homecoming’ on a forthcoming six date UK tour.
She supports folk rock duo The Rails at bar and live music venue The Lantern in Halifax - not 10 miles from her hubby’s birthplace - on Sunday, May 13.
“I’ve no idea whether Patrick will be with me for the tour; probably not. I think he has some other stuff in his schedule,” she says in an exclusive chat from their New York home.
“But I love Yorkshire. I’ve now got a lot of family and roots up there. So it will be a treat. I’m hoping to see the Stewart clan and some of the lovely people who keep Huddersfield University running. That was one of his favourite jobs,” she adds, reflecting on the Hollywood superstar’s role as chancellor for more than a decade before stepping down in 2015.
The same year Sunny’s global status blasted off with rave reviews for her debut album Take It With Me. Originally from Reno, she spent years honing her craft, performing in jazz clubs, perfecting her unique blend of jazz, blues and American roots music, with a fair bit of soul and country thrown in.
She takes her style from the great American songbooks, from Leon Russell to Randy Newman to T-Bone Burnett.
Fans will get a sneak peek listen to new self-penned songs from her second album and first release in three years when she performs tracks from forthcoming summer release, Overnight Lows.
It includes jazz in fused folk-blues single The Garden - out on May 11 to coincide with the start of her tour - which is a showcase for her soft, sultry, haunting vocals balanced wonderfully against dreamy guitar strings.
“There is also some really kind of down home grove based tunes and some soul type stuff on the album. It a real mix but I guess the continuity in it is that it is the same players I’ve been working with for a while and we’ve been able to build on a relationship over the course of about five years now. It sounds like a band and I love that,” she said.
Of the new single she added: “I will say this record is intensely personal for me. In the past I’ve been afraid to expose myself and then I find in my writing that if I am too literal it’s not interesting. That’s kind of my goal, not to be vague per se but just have it open so other people can interpret it their way.
“I guess I’m looking back and taking stock, kind of having an understanding of where you’ve been and where you are going and make peace with things.
The Garden and b-side, Take You Down, were both co-written by her and members of her extended ‘musical family’. But by that she means her long time band friends - not Sir Patrick.
She laughed: “Our creative lives are pretty distinct from one another but we enjoy getting to hear one another and seeing one another so that’s fun. “By musical family I mean I have a large group of musicians that I have worked with for many, many years. I’ve lived in New York for almost 15 years and I’ve got a lot of people to collaborate with.”
There’s also a 38-year age gap - he’s 77 and she is 39 - and their schedules mean they are often apart. But they are proof that age and distance is nothing when it comes to finding true love.
They met through a mutual friend in 2008 while she was working as a waitress in New York and married five years ago in a wedding actually officiated by Sir Patrick’s best friend and fellow actor Sir Ian McKellen.
Which makes her the real life Lady Stewart. Not that she uses the title, except for some fun with her Hollywood royalty other half.
So is being Mrs Patrick Stewart a blessing or a curse?
“Oh neither. It’s like anything. It has its ups and downs. But I forget that he’s a public figure most of the time and again like I say our work lives are really quite distinct and separate from each other.
“I’ve been doing this thing since before I knew him and I do it now I know him.
“Where we live in London and in Brooklyn we don’t get hassled. Patrick can go to the grocery store, to the hardware store, the dry cleaners and the pharmacist and he has a perfectly private life. So it doesn’t really affect us outside of maybe having dinner and being invaded on. But that’s to be expected I guess in this day and age when everybody has an iPhone and all of that you know.
“We’re pretty darn split down the middle where we like to live. I think for him England will always be home and I’m an American, so I guess America will always be home, for better or for worse.”
She admits finding comfort in writing and recording the new album as she comes to terms with the Trump era.
“It’s been a crazy couple of years for the planet I think. I’m American and we’ve had a pretty Earth shattering election and presidential campaign and the results of it have been disturbing for, I would say, most of America honestly.
“I’ve got to say it’s really nice to come over to the UK and be away from it for a bit.
“I can’t help but admit that that looms pretty large in my psyche and everyone else that I know, but in that kind of context we’ve been working on our second record and it’s been actually nice to find comfort in ones art. I guess that’s one of the reasons why we do it and tap into the good stuff and walk away from the bad stuff.\
The UK tour, May 11 to 20, also takes in Manchester, Nottingham, London, Bristol and Winchester.
Tickets are £12 advance, £14 on the door to see Sunny Ozell and Tensheds support The Rails, who are promoting their current album Other People, at The Lantern in Halifax, on Sunday, May 13, at 8pm. Buy in person at the venue box office, online at www.thelanternhalifax.co.uk or for all shows visit www.seetickets.com.