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Petula Clark still looking on the bright side

November 24, 2018

It’s hard to think of song stylist Petula Clark without picturing her singing her 1964 megahit, “Downtown,” with her hopes that “the lights are much brighter there, you can forget all your troubles, forget all your cares.”

Fast forward to 2018, and Clark is still offering a positive message in the British singer’s title song on her latest CD, “Living for Today” (2017), which has become her personal mantra for living.

The new song gets a little more serious with its subject matter, dealing with “politicians making bad decisions, mass destruction, mass corruption,” but she’s still hopeful for a better tomorrow.

Clark, who will turn 86 on Nov. 15, nearly two weeks after her afternoon concert performance at 3 p.m. Nov. 4 at The Palace Theatre in Greensburg, says that’s just her style.

Make the most of every moment

“I’ve been living like that for a long time,” she says. “I believe we need to make the most of every moment, every day.”

After her CD came out a year ago, she took on her first U.S. concert tour in more than five decades in support of the album. She also does U.K. tours occasionally and is heading to Australia to perform in the spring.

She has lived in Geneva, Switzerland, for more than 40 years with her husband, Claude Wolff, and says she finds the scenery gorgeous and the quiet setting perfect for rehearsing new music and relaxing, “especially when you’re tearing around the world” like she does.

British Shirley Temple

Clark’s career as a performer dates to World War II, when she entertained the troops in England before she was 9 years old, earning her the nickname of “the British Shirley Temple.”

She made her movie debut at age 11 in “Medal for the General” in 1945 and has since appeared in more than 30 American and British and American films, including starring with Peter O’Toole in the 1968 musical adaptation of “Goodbye, Mr. Chips.”

Besides her touring schedule, she says she travels whenever she can to visit her three children and two grandchildren.

Clark’s concert performance typically features a mix of old standards, such as “I Know a Place” (1965), “A Sign of the Times” (1966) and “Don’t Sleep in the Subway” (1967), with some of her newer numbers.

Besides her original songs, her “Living for Today” album includes covers of Peggy Lee’s “Fever,” the Beatles’ “Blackbird” and “When You See a Chance” by Steve Winwood.

She was inducted into the Grammy Awards Hall of Fame and received the Guinness Book of World Record’s award for most successful female solo recording artist in Britain.

Clark was named to the Hollywood Walk of Fame Class of 2018 in the Recording category, alongside Mary J. Blige, Sir Richard Branson, Harry Connick Jr., Ice T, Snoop Dogg, Carrie Underwood and “Weird Al” Yankovic, but she hasn’t yet scheduled her star ceremony.

“I haven’t gotten around to it yet,” she says. “I’ll get to it.”

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