Betty Boo dreams of retiring to Scotland and reveals “I feel Scottish”. The star, 53, is from London and is known for her American-style rapping on ’90s hits like Doin’ The Do, was born Alison Moira Clarkson and is proud of her Scots roots. .
She even uses her grandmother Betty’s name as her pop nickname.
She said: “Every time I go to Scotland, I feel Scottish. I just feel very comfortable there.”
Now living in Wiltshire with her husband, film producer Paul Toogood, she will be back here next month for the Let’s Rock Scotland festival at Dalkeith Country Park, Midlothian, according to a bill that includes The Human League and Wet Wet Wet.
She said: “All of the people on my mother’s side are Scottish and from Edinburgh. She and my nanny moved to London in the 60’s but we used to go to Scotland a lot during the summer holidays.
“I haven’t been back in years but we used to go to Silver Sands outside of Edinburgh. For someone born in London, it’s like another world.
“I have vague memories of staying in Perth with other relatives.
“My brother and I were going to be there during the summer break and I remember playing until midnight because it wasn’t dark yet. It’s amazing.
“I always thought I would move to Scotland when I retire, find a little place by the lake. That would be lovely.”
Playing Let’s Rock will give her an excuse to pry around her mother’s home city of Edinburgh.
“I’m in the city, so I’ll get up really early, put on my sneakers and go for a walk,” she said.
She mentioned going to the Jenners, where her mother, Lysbeth, got a job on Saturday before moving to London. I reported it was being turned into a hotel.
“It’s such a shame. I always loved, even when I was on Princes Street, going to the Jenners. When my mother passed away, I used to think she worked there as a young girl,” she said.
Betty hit the heights in the early ’90s when she gave up fame to care for her mother, who suffered from liver cancer and died in 1994.
While some might go on with the pop circus, Betty, whose father died when she was 17, “didn’t even think about it.”
She added: “I thought, ‘I have to be there for her and make her feel safe’. I used to sleep in the hospital.
“I just didn’t think about becoming a pop star even though I was at the top of my game.
“All I remember is I wish I was the sick one.”
Within three months of her mother’s death, her aunt died of pneumonia and she was left in the care of her beloved nanny, who was reeling from the deaths of her two daughters.
Betty kept the nanny close by and visited her daily until her death in 2000, at the age of 85. But then she felt she owed her nanny a lot. Don’t just use “best name ever” for her pop name. She said: “I definitely learned a lot from my nanny about independence.
“When I was seven, I made money helping put flyers in envelopes during the school holidays at the Fabian Society.”
Betty is a left-wing activist who founded a center for the elderly and is so respected that she throws a retirement party at the House of Lords.
Betty snr may have lived in London but it’s Scottish home. Even John, the father of Betty jnr, a Malaysian, “finally has a bit of a Scottish accent”.
She will be emotional when she returns to Scotland next month almost 30 years after her mother’s death.
“It still brings me to tears,” she admitted. Sometimes I can’t believe how much time has passed. Real life must be lived.”
She played tennis after her mother passed away and played every day. As well as currently working on a new album, she is training to be a tennis coach.
Betty admits her nanny’s Scottish guts and determination helped her succeed at an early age. She formed her first band, The She Rockers, at the age of 16.
After seeing a 1988 DEF Jam concert in London, which featured Public Enemy, she met them at a McDonald’s and started rapping with them.
The hip-hop legends asked her to support them on their US tour.
Following her success in the UK, she performed The Beatmasters’ top 10 hit Hey DJ I Can’t Dance (To That Music You’re Playing). Her first solo single “Doin’ The Do” broke into the UK top 10 and peaked at number 1 in the US dance chart.
Boomania – also the name of her debut album – was followed by top 3 hits Where Are You Baby?
She’s about to break America, with Madonna wanting to sign her to her own label Maverick.
“We’ve got contracts,” said Betty. After that, my mother got sick, so I put everything aside to take care of her. Madonna is very understanding because she lost her biological mother. She sent me flowers.”
Betty may have turned her back on fame but she inspired the Spice Girls’ first manager, Chris Herbert, to put out an ad looking for “five Betty Boos”.
After being ousted, he formed the band Girl Thing. Betty wrote them as Pure and Simple, which was later used by Hear’Say and became number 1.
While she stopped singing, she continued to write for others including Girls Aloud and Paloma Faith.
But when she turned 50, she felt it was time to write another album.
Boomerang was released last year and includes instant fan favorites Get Me to the Weekend and Right By Your Side, which includes David Gray. She also teamed up with old friend Chuck D of Public Enemy on the Miracle track.
Betty is currently working on another album. She laughed and said, “It’s like getting your old job back.”
●Let’s Rock Scotland at Dalkeith Country Park, Midlothian, on June 24. Tickets at www.letsrockscotland.com