Sugababes’ Siobhan Donaghy says mental health awareness in the music industry is ‘overdue’

Sugababes’ Siobhan Donaghy has insisted that mental health awareness in the music industry is ‘long overdue’.

The singer, 36, soared to fame in the original line-up of the band in 1998 but left in 2001 amid her own mental health battle.

Siobhan has since reunited with bandmates Keisha Buchanan, 36, and Mutya Buena, 35 – with the trio reclaiming their Sugababes name after securing the legal rights in 2019. 

Important: Sugababes' Siobhan Donaghy has insisted that mental health awareness in the music industry is 'long overdue' (pictured with Mutya Buena and Keisha Buchanan in 2012)

Important: Sugababes' Siobhan Donaghy has insisted that mental health awareness in the music industry is 'long overdue' (pictured with Mutya Buena and Keisha Buchanan in 2012)

Important: Sugababes’ Siobhan Donaghy has insisted that mental health awareness in the music industry is ‘long overdue’ (pictured with Mutya Buena and Keisha Buchanan in 2012) 

Speaking in a new candid interview, the singer and her bandmate Keisha also teased the group’s expanded reissue of their original 2000 album One Touch, which they originally released when aged 15-16, to celebrate its 20th anniversary.

Talking about her decision to leave the band in 2001 and the now importance of mental health awareness in the music industry, Siobhan admitted that it is ‘long overdue’.

Talking to NME, the singer said she was ‘so happy’ that it is now being widely discussed and praised Jesy Nelson, who left her band Little Mix last year after ‘constant pressure’ had ‘taken a toll on her mental health’. 

Siobhan told the publication: ‘It wouldn’t have been an option back then to say that, and I’m just so happy that mental health is so widely discussed now.  

Way back when: The singer, 36, soared to fame in the original line-up of the band in 1998 but left in 2001 amid her own mental health battle (pictured as teenagers at the start of the band)

Way back when: The singer, 36, soared to fame in the original line-up of the band in 1998 but left in 2001 amid her own mental health battle (pictured as teenagers at the start of the band)

Way back when: The singer, 36, soared to fame in the original line-up of the band in 1998 but left in 2001 amid her own mental health battle (pictured as teenagers at the start of the band)  

‘There’s this idea you’re living a hugely glamorous life the minute you have one song out, and you must be rolling in it, so you should suck up any nasty comments because you chose that life. That attitude is changing and is seriously long overdue.’

Over the summer, Keisha reflected on her experience as the only black member of the Sugababes and said that she was often portrayed as an instigator of the band’s fights – saying that she now believes this was an example of systemic racism.

Talking in the new interview, the singer said that she was often accused of ‘being a bully’ while discussing writing-splits with the band’s previous line-ups, there have been several members over the years, and that she found it ‘hard’ at the time. 

Keisha said: ‘I wanted to shine a light on fairness. It wasn’t about painting myself as a victim – who isn’t a cow when they’re younger? But a black kid making a mistake is not treated with the same punishment. 

Praise: Talking to NME , the singer said she was 'so happy' that it is now being widely discussed and praised Jesy Nelson, pictured, who left her band Little Mix last year after 'constant pressure' had 'taken a toll on her mental health'

Praise: Talking to NME , the singer said she was 'so happy' that it is now being widely discussed and praised Jesy Nelson, pictured, who left her band Little Mix last year after 'constant pressure' had 'taken a toll on her mental health'

Praise: Talking to NME , the singer said she was ‘so happy’ that it is now being widely discussed and praised Jesy Nelson, pictured, who left her band Little Mix last year after ‘constant pressure’ had ‘taken a toll on her mental health’ 

‘What did a lot of damage to me mentally and the things I still have to deal with to this day is that perception led into the way I dealt with business and people as I got older, and I became a complete walkover.

‘I never talked about my experiences of being surrounded in toilets by girls who just wanted to fight me. Or how – in other Sugababes’ line-ups, not this one – writing-splits were an issue.

‘When I said: “But I wrote more on this song”, I’d be accused of being a bully. That was hard for me.’

Keisha added that it has had a ‘very damaging effect’ on her after having to ‘protect’ herself and she has spent 15 years doing a ‘lot of work’ to ‘make sense of it all’.

Speaking out: Over the summer, Keisha reflected on her experience as the only black member of the Sugababes and said that she was often portrayed as an instigator of the band's fights - saying that she now believes this was an example of systemic racism

Speaking out: Over the summer, Keisha reflected on her experience as the only black member of the Sugababes and said that she was often portrayed as an instigator of the band's fights - saying that she now believes this was an example of systemic racism

Speaking out: Over the summer, Keisha reflected on her experience as the only black member of the Sugababes and said that she was often portrayed as an instigator of the band’s fights – saying that she now believes this was an example of systemic racism 

While Siobhan added: ‘Even as a teenager, it was obvious to me that the three of us were treated differently, especially in other countries. Some people would only direct questions to me. 

‘It was awkward and obvious to me then what was at the heart of what was going on, but I didn’t know how to address it then.’   

Keisha added that she is appearing in Little Mix star Leigh-Anne Pinnock’s new documentary Race, Pop & Power, which looks at racism in the music industry.

Elsewhere during the interview, talking about finding fame at such a young age with the band, Siobhan and Keisha admitted that it was like living a ‘double life’ at school.

'Bully': Talking in the new interview, the singer said that she was often accused of 'being a bully' while discussing writing-splits with the band's previous line-ups, there have been several members over the years, and that she found it 'hard' at the time (the original group pictured)

'Bully': Talking in the new interview, the singer said that she was often accused of 'being a bully' while discussing writing-splits with the band's previous line-ups, there have been several members over the years, and that she found it 'hard' at the time (the original group pictured)

‘Bully’: Talking in the new interview, the singer said that she was often accused of ‘being a bully’ while discussing writing-splits with the band’s previous line-ups, there have been several members over the years, and that she found it ‘hard’ at the time (the original group pictured) 

While the duo admitted they were once left starstruck after Mick Jagger came backstage to say ‘hello’ to the band while P!nk praised their first single Overload in 2000. 

It comes after the Sugababes were forced to scrap their plans for a 20th anniversary reunion due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The groups original members Keisha, Mutya and Siobhan had big plans for 2020 to mark two decades since the release of their debut album One Touch.

However, the pandemic meant they were unable to get in the studio to record new music while live performances have been made impossible due to the pandemic. 

Damaging: Keisha added that it has had a 'very damaging effect' on her after having to 'protect' herself and she has spent 15 years doing a 'lot of work' to 'make sense of it all' (pictured with the original Sugababes in 2013)

Damaging: Keisha added that it has had a 'very damaging effect' on her after having to 'protect' herself and she has spent 15 years doing a 'lot of work' to 'make sense of it all' (pictured with the original Sugababes in 2013)

Damaging: Keisha added that it has had a ‘very damaging effect’ on her after having to ‘protect’ herself and she has spent 15 years doing a ‘lot of work’ to ‘make sense of it all’ (pictured with the original Sugababes in 2013)  

According to The Sun, Siobhan was particularly reluctant to go to a studio as she was cautious of catching Covid due to her son Ford, three.

Speaking in an Instagram Live recently, Keisha said: ‘We had so many plans for last year. 2020 was our anniversary year, we built it up to do so many things but it didn’t happen, so we have to restructure.

‘We just have to be motivated to do it and passionate about it and once we are actually in the studio it flows really easily for us.

‘But it’s about getting us all on the same page on the same date and the pandemic makes it really tricky.

‘It just has to be organic and be on the same page as far as our schedules are concerned.’

Important: Keisha added that she is appearing in Little Mix star Leigh-Anne Pinnock's, left, new documentary Race, Pop & Power, which looks at racism in the music industry

Important: Keisha added that she is appearing in Little Mix star Leigh-Anne Pinnock's, left, new documentary Race, Pop & Power, which looks at racism in the music industry

Important: Keisha added that she is appearing in Little Mix star Leigh-Anne Pinnock’s, left, new documentary Race, Pop & Power, which looks at racism in the music industry 

The group are currently all working on their own projects, with Keisha currently living in Canada and pursuing an acting career while Mutya is said to be working on a solo EP.

Keisha said: ‘I’ve been taking acting classes. I did land a role but the virus has put a pause on everything there as well.’

The Sugababes went through numerous line-up changes over the years with all three original members eventually being replaced.

Siobhan left in 2001 and was replaced by Heidi Range, Mutya left in 2005 and was replaced by Amelle Berrabah and Keisha was replaced by Jade Ewan when she departed in 2009.

The replacement members stopped making music in 2011 while the original trio reformed as Mutya Keisha Siobhan in 2012, releasing the single Flatline the following year.

They were unable to call themselves the Sugababes until they secured the legal rights to the group name again in 2019.

For help contact MIND on 0300 123 3393, SANE on 0300 304 7000 or The Samaritans on 116 123. 

Line-up: The Sugababes went through numerous line-up changes over the years with all three original members eventually being replaced (Jade Ewan, Amelle Berrabah and Heidi Range pictured in 2009)

Line-up: The Sugababes went through numerous line-up changes over the years with all three original members eventually being replaced (Jade Ewan, Amelle Berrabah and Heidi Range pictured in 2009)

Line-up: The Sugababes went through numerous line-up changes over the years with all three original members eventually being replaced (Jade Ewan, Amelle Berrabah and Heidi Range pictured in 2009)

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