Ooh so much to write about this week.

Firstly, some readers may recall my blog about facilities (or lack of them) for young people in Leigh.

A group of teenagers chatted me with about
their ideas and I emailed all these to Leigh town council asking for their thoughts.

This was three weeks ago and as yet, I have heard nothing.

I'll resend the email, I case it went astray and let you know if they respond.

They certainly ought to give me some feedback as the ideas the youngsters came up with were terrific and certainly, at least some, should be do-able!

Hurrah - it's almost my FAVOURITE time of year!


Leigh Lights really mark the start of the festive season for me.

It's usually such a lovely occasion and so traditional too.

Saturday 25th November 2006 is the date for the Leigh Christmas lights switch-on and procession.

Come and join us in St Clements Church Hall, The Broadway, Leigh from 11am to 4pm.

A day full of Christmas craft activities for children.

The chance to make Christmas cards, tree decorations, Christmas crackers and lots, lots more.

Adults can enjoy a cup of tea or coffee whilst the children are busy having fun.

The Leigh Lights Christmas Switch-on will be at 5.00 p.m. by Alan Terry (Captain of the Golden Hawk in Sinbad the Sailor at New Empire Theatre).

Other activities start at 4.00 p.m. in Grand Car Park (funfair!) and at Leigh Road Baptist Church.

There will be street entertainment, hot chestnuts
and other food and drinks, stalls, music & lots more.

Many shops stay open late and the main road is closed to traffic so you can look around and enjoy yourself in safety.

The Christmas lights will be switch-on at 5.00 p.m.

There's a procession at 5.15 including bands, majorettes, Southend Carnival Court,
miniature horses, vintage cars, Morris dancers and majorettes!

Also, make a note that on December 9th, there will be the now traditional Carols on Strand Wharf service at 6.00 p.m.

Just come down and enjoy singing some of your favourite carols for an hour, round the Christmas Tree, followed by a mince pie.

Wrap up warmly and bring a torch.

The lights from the tree will be given to the children at the end of the
carol service.

Continuing my series about local people who do or have done unusual things,

I'd like ton introduce you to another Leigh lady - Ms Maria Naylor.

If that name sounds familiar, it's because you may have bought her music at one time or seen her on TV.

Or maybe your children attend het popular dance
and music classes.

Maria is married to Mark and they have two sons, Monty and Louis who attend North Street School.

Maria is a dancer, singer and songwriter who has had a
record deal in her own right.

She has also performed with Kylie Minogue and
Robert Miles.

I asked her how hard it was juggling being a mum and professional vocalist and songwriter.

"I do have to juggle but the boys always come first. Quite a few 'doors '
have closed for me because of not leaving to go on tour to promote a record
and also not being able to spend lots of time making music so not coming up
with the goods. What I really miss though is performing. I suppose it's the
show off in me! I do love to have a good sing. In my house we sing all
nursery rhymes in different styles from soul/funk to punk/rock . I'm much
happier with the balance now as the boys are a little older and I have a bit
more space to work. "

You're most well known for your work with Robert Miles which got you chart success in the 1990's. How did you end up working with him?

"I actually had many records out before getting together with Mr Miles. I had song in the charts with Sasha called Be As One and at that time Robert
was enjoying the number one spot with the single Children.

He asked me to guest vocal on his next track which was One and One.

It's funny because to be honest, I really didn't like the track Children and didn't know what to

When I first heard One and One, it was sent to me by the writers who are the famous Rick Knowls and Billy Steinburg (who wrote 'Falling Into You
for Celine .Dion, Eternal Flame The Bangles and Ray of Light for Madonna).

The demo version was really heavy and rock song-hideous! Got to the studio though and Robert and I made it what it is today. "

What was it like supporting Kylie Minogue?

"Supporting Kyle was both great and utterly terrifying. We did an acoustic set with two guitarists and percussion to a packed out gay audience for
three nights at the Shepard's Bush Empire. They were all very kind to me though. Kyle's is so tiny and one of the few people actually smaller then me
which amused me. "

If you had to choose either never sing again or never write a song again which would you opt for?

"That's easy - I'd never write a song. "

Was singing something you always wanted to do? Who are your biggestinfluences?

"I just love good singers. Someone who can reach out and simply touch the listener with their voice.
Michael Jackson, Steve Wonder, Kate Bush, Paul Weller, Carli Simon and Doris Day were all among many of my favourites growing up. "

Do you think older artists are sufficiently represented in today's music? Have shows like X factor helped or hindered?

"I have a love/hate relationship with The X Factor. I love it for the pure entertainment value but hate it for the way it's made some people believe
they can sing and there's nothing else in life more important then being
famous. "

Any current projects you can tell us about? What's in the pipeline?

"I have an album out with Taste Experience on Black Hole Productions (not
England), and am writing with some producer's closer to home. I am also in
the process of setting up an adult vocal work shop for singers and other
performers, or people that just want to learn more about their voice."

You seem keen to introduce children to music and dance - your kids classes are always packed. How did you get into teaching kids? Do you enjoy it?

"When I had my babies I realised that right from the start children love music, so I took my children to all sorts of mother and toddler music/dance

"I knew that I could offer something a little different, less structured, more expressive, and interactive and fun.
I love my job teaching the little ones. They start from 1 year to 5 years.

The secret is, just to get into their world, come down to their level and you've got them. It's so

To most small children in Leigh. I'm known as 'The Dancing Lady'. Classes at the Davis Dance Centre, Elm Road West, Leigh On Sea on Tuesdays.10.00am
-10.45 and Fri 10.00-10.45. £3.00.

All welcome. I also teach at the Sandra Singer School in Leigh too. Details of which can be found at
http://www.sandrasinger.com "

Does it look like your sons will follow in your musical footsteps? Is it a career you'd encourage them to enter into?

"I'd love my boys to have music in their lives in some capacity.

"One is a great dancer with fantastic rhythm the other pitch perfect.

"But the only thing that rules in my house at the moment is the bloody football!!!

"One thing's for sure though; they will learn to read music, something I never did, and I believe this really held me back at times in my career. "

To contact Maria about singing and dancing lessons for adults or children, write to her via marianayler7@msn.com

Have a wonderful time at the Leigh Lights if you go and see you all next week!