I toured the world with Boney M

Singer Anthea Ferrell talks about life with late disco-star Bobby Farrell - and her new jazz direction

ANTHEA Ferrell says it was her surname that helped land her a gig with the late Bobby Farrell.

The singer and dancer, of Stroud Green Road, Finsbury Park, caught the ear of the Boney M star after a successful career in musical theatre and was signed her up to tour with him in the 1990s.

But she says the charismatic disco performer, who died in December last year, was originally intrigued by her similar moniker.

The Swindon-born 51-year-old says “I got a phone call out of the blue from Bobby’s wife. I think my name is what got them interested. They tried me out in a big show in Germany, at a huge discotheque in front of thousands of people, and then I joined.

“I worked with him for years. We did TV, stadiums, and went to all sorts of places. He was a big personality – it was quite an experience working with him. Sometimes you laughed, sometimes you cried, sometimes you didn’t know where you were.”

Anthea eventually went from performing hits such as Daddy Cool and Rivers of Babylon with the original Boney M frontman to being part of a female-only tribute act, The Tribute to Boney M, which has built up a following in France.

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In her earlier West End days, her credits included Little Shop of Horrors, Porgy and Bess and 42nd Street – which saw her cross paths with a young Catherine Zeta-Jones.

“We were on nodding terms!” she jokes. “We joined 42nd Street at the same time. She was so brilliant they decided to give her a try as the lead. She got the part, was wonderful at it and the rest is history.”

After spending years performing Boney M’s 1970s hits, Anthea has now set off in a new direction as a jazz performer, singing jazz standards from George Gershwin’s Summertime to Duke Ellington’s It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing).

She recently performed at the St Pancras Grand Oyster Bar and Restaurant, at St Pancras Station, in Euston Road, King’s Cross, and is discussing a residency there – but she has no plans to leave Boney M behind.

She said: “After singing Boney M for years I wanted to do something of my own. I have always loved jazz and I thought I would give it a go. But I am still singing with the tribute band. The girls have become lifelong friends and I love being with them.”