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Toni Caroll started her career as a teenager singing in clubs up and down the valleys. She then went to London to pursue a pop career.
How did your career kick off?
I'd find myself through song and once I'd step on the stage I'd feel myself change. Originally I wanted to be a dancer, I used to do ballet and tap, we didn't have any jazz at that time, but when I was eleven I started singing with Moggy and the Wanderers. When I was fifteen I turned professional and sang at the Embassy Ballroom before doing cabaret which I did for years.
When you hear the word cabaret you instantly think of sequins, glitz and glamour. Is that how it was?
I've always loved glitzy things, even as a child. I loved wearing make up and loved sequins. Even now if I go out on the town to Swansea, the sequins come out. Years ago, false eyelashes were made from plastic and were very long, when I look back at pictures of myself now I look like a cow with them on!
How does it feel to be on stage performing in front of a crowd?
I'm always nervous before a performance, but I think that's good. You can never tell how an audience is going to respond until you're up there. But when things go well, it's an amazing feeling and much better than any drug.
This gold outfit is amazing, when did you wear this?
I remember going to Borovicks, a huge haberdashery in the West End and I bought this gold material. It's quite a heavy but stretchy material. I took it to the guy that used to make my outfits and he said, "why did you buy that material?" and I said, "Well, I liked it, it was very expensive and I thought it looked good" and he said, "It's terrible to work with". He saw my face drop and told me to come back in an hour. When I went back he said, "Well, I've cut it, so go and try it on". I was very nervous, but when I wore the outfit it fitted me perfectly.
Was your costume a part of your performance?
Yes my costume was always part of my performance, but they weren't revealing at all, it was all left to the imagination! My husband would always choose my costumes and he'd also choose my outfit when we'd go out as well. I don't enjoy going through racks of clothes looking for something to wear. If I something that's straight in front of me then I'm fine but I can't be bothered to go looking. After choosing an outfit for me, if there was any material let over, my husband would use it to cover a pair of shoes so that I'd have shoes that matched my outfits!
After you lost your husband, who chose your outfits?
After I lost John, buying clothes almost became some sort of therapy for me. John would choose everything for me, clothes for things such as Noson Lawen. If he saw something he liked, he'd tell me, "Get that, and then it'll come in handy for that…" But after loosing John I felt lost. You loose your confidence when you're on your own. But I've got a lot of clothes, shoes and bags now, but of course it was all in the name of therapy!
This is a beautiful dress, for what occasion did you buy this dress?
I bought this dress to go to Bonnie Tyler's house at Christmas. I worked with her a few years back and bless her she always invites me over for Christmas.
As well as being a cabaret artist you're also an actress. Did you enjoy playing the character Glesni in the drama series Con Passionate?
I wasn't allowed to wear any makeup at all. Nothing! Playing Glesni was a challenge but there was something endearing about her character, something naïve and sad. I think she had quite a good life before she married Glyn! But I think playing Glesni has been a good thing for me.
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