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Kaz-ting off her blues Belfast singer Kaz Hawkins swaps city for rural French life and puts past behind her

Delight: Ooh la la for music star with new album and deal

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Kaz Hawkins in France

Kaz Hawkins in France

Kaz Hawkins in France

Kaz Hawkins has swapped the blues for the bliss of rural France.

The 47-year-old has rebooted a stellar career and is cashing in on the French love of the blues.

She has traded a life playing the Belfast circuit for a Gallic idyll and a fresh start. Home now is two acres of French countryside, an in-house recording studio, a recording contract and a new lease of life.

If anyone deserves a second bite at life it’s Kaz Hawkins – she’s battled depression, and an abusive relationship in which her partner battered her and slit her throat.

“That’s the past,” she said.

“Look, I’ve dealt with a lot things, music was my saviour, I would not be alive now, today, if it were not for music.

“I’ve lived my experiences, PTSD – post traumatic stress disorder – through my songs and I’m lucky I’ve come out the other side.”

She said she lived and relived her past through her music, but life now is about putting a smile on her face.

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Kaz Hawkins

Kaz Hawkins

Kaz Hawkins

Earlier this month she signed a major recording deal with Dixie Frog and with an album recorded during lock dockdown she is looking forward to getting back on the stage.

She released an album in July, a tribute to blues legend Etta James, but she’s hopeful of getting back on the road.

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“The album did great, but we’ve been working through lockdown so we move on.”

Moving to France, she said, is key to her moving on.

“There is such a different vibe here, I love and miss Belfast, but wherever I went – north,south, east Belfast – I was reminded of how I was abused, I needed to get away from that, and I think I have.

“I write songs now that tell a different story.”

Famous for her cathartic song Lipstick and Cocaine detailing her battle with depression and drug addiction, Belfast’s finest blues export since Van Morrison is content.

“No, I don’t speak French, but I can sing!”

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Kaz Hawkins

Kaz Hawkins

Kaz Hawkins

And she says the blues-loving French have welcomed her with open arms.

Husband David gets them by “with schoolyard French” while Kaz sings for her supper.

“That’s about right,” she laughed, “I, we’ve, found a new life here, I miss Belfast, I miss my friends and my fans but there was such a pressure living there.

“I will always come back but I’ve turned a corner.”

A planned tour had to be cancelled so Kaz has been busy recording a follow-up to the hugely successful tribute to blues legend Etta James Memories of Etta released in July.

“It’s challenging doing an album in lockdown,” she said, “as we in France go into another one all I can do is concentrate on my work.”

Larger than life Kaz said the buzz of live performances was a huge miss in her life.

“I love the interaction with the audience, for now it’s not possible, so I look forward to the time when it will be back.”

Now she revels in her new-found notoriety in France.

“They think I’m a diva, in a good way!

“I feel I’m in the right place, the French have such an appreciation of the arts, they support artists, for now I’m in the right place.”

And the right place is Limoges, not far from Bordeaux.

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Au revoir: Kaz Hawkins says she feels in the right place with her new life in France

Au revoir: Kaz Hawkins says she feels in the right place with her new life in France

Au revoir: Kaz Hawkins says she feels in the right place with her new life in France

“I never thought I would find such peace, I love my home city but it had become claustrophobic, a reminder of the bad times, the abusive times, you know, I live in France, I’ve just signed a recording contract and (husband) David is outside cutting the grass, does it get any better?”

None of which takes away from the crisis facing the arts.

“Not being able to perform is heartbreaking, I guess I’m lucky but music has got me through so many hard times , it will get me through this.

“France appreciates the arts, in fact in Europe there is so much support so when live performances come back it will be with the full support of the powers that be, I don’t get that feeling back home.”

In the meantime she has another mission.

“I can sing, but I’m going to have to learn French!”

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