The Daily Record has spoken with a singer who has been plucked from obscurity to support Elton at his only Scottish gig this year at the SECC on June 10.
The day before she plays to thousands in Glasgow, she’ll perform in front of a handful of people in Edinburgh and two days after her Elton gig, she’ll play a tiny room in Dunoon.
But Pearl and the Puppets (or Katie Sutherland–the songwriter’s real name) can’t wait.
The 21-year-old, from Kirkintilloch, near Glasgow, joked: “It will be weird supporting Elton John in between the two of them but I love all my gigs. Big or small.”
Katie spoke about how she first got the music veteran’s attention.
“I sent him a demo of a new song called Kisses last year and he phoned me up and said: “I couldn’t write a song like that when I was your age,’ which was a lovely thing to say.
“It just fills you with confidence when someone you respect says that.”
Like James Blunt and Just Jack, Elton has taken Sutherland under his wing.
Also, as with James and Jack, Katie is signed to Twenty-First Artists, Elton’s management company.
The 62-year-old sold the firm to Sanctuary in 2005 for £16million but remains on the label’s roster, along with the likes of Lily Allen and Mick Jones from The Clash.
Elton, who is currently #3 in the UK with Ironik‘s Tiny Dancer (Hold Me Closer), last year set up Pearl and the Puppets with a gig supporting the Sugababes and McFly.
Katie explains her appeal to the pianist.
“He likes the simplicity of my songs and my voice. The first time I met him, at a Christmas party for Twenty-First two Christmases ago, he kissed me and could name four or five of my songs, which I couldn’t believe.
“He’s been very supportive of me. He gets sent the tracks and listens to my music.
“Elton puts his time and effort in to speak to the artists. He said how proud he was after the last song he’d heard and when I supported Sugababes.”
One of her tracks Because I Do has been picked up as the soundtrack for aVodafone commercial in Australia and New Zealand.
Currently recording her debut album inYorkshire, Sutherland hasn’t signed a label deal yet but when she’s ready she’ll surely have the pick of the best – especially with Elton’s endorsement behind her.
The rock performer and the folk singer first hooked up when his management company approached her lawyer about taking her on their books.
She laughed: “When they told me I just said, ‘OK!'” Now she gets Christmas cards and presents from one of the world’s most respected musicians.
Katie said: “I’ve been to two Christmas parties for Twenty-First.
“The first was Elton, James Blunt, Just Jack, Mick Jones and me. Then last year Lily Allen was there, too. We had a lovely chat.
“It’s odd. At first you wonder what you are going to talk about. But you just relax and after five minutes you forget you are sitting at a table talking to all these famous people.”
Katie’s friends and family are now ecstatic about her supporting Elton. She said: “A lot of them already had tickets before they knew I would be playing as well.”
Asked if Elton is on speed-dial on her mobile, Katie grinned.
“Elton hasn’t got a mobile phone. He’s got people who do that for him.”
Until recently, the young woman was going to be a primary school teacher and was at university studying to be one. But by night she’d go to open mic nights and decided that music was her true calling. Her first proper gig was at a Kirkintilloch cafe two years ago with just a handful of people in attendance – mostly family and friends.
Someone there suggested she put her songs up on MySpace – which she hadn’t even heard of.
But when she did, record label interest was instantaneous.
At first, her parents weren’t happy at her quitting her studies.
She said: “When I left university my parents were like ‘what!’ but now they are very supportive. It’s great to have them behind me.
“They are so excited about the Elton show. My dad is thinking of buying a new suit for it.”
In the past, Sutherland claimed ”Pearl” was her middle name, although this is not the case.
She explained: “I just wanted a stage name. There are too many Katies out there – KT Tunstall, Kate Nash, Katy Perry, Katie Melua. Too many.
“I wanted one word and chose Pearl, because I love them.
“But then Meat Loaf‘s daughter came to UK touring with him and she is called Pearl.
“She’s heavy metal which is slightly different from my style, so I was going to go back to Katie Sutherland. But I decided I could be Pearl if I added a band and, as I wanted alliteration, Pearl and the Puppets seemed to fit.”
Katie recalled that when she learned she would be opening for Elton, she let out such a scream, he parents thought someone had died.
She admitted to being thrilled about the gig with Elton, and that it’s the biggest she has done.