Bedingfield to air his gritty new voice in first concert here

By Joanna Hunkin

A horrific car smash near Whangarei in 2004 changed singer Daniel Bedingfield's life forever, permanently altering his voice. But the 27-year-old doesn't regret the change.

"It took another two years after that for my voice to come back. When it did, it was different. But I actually really like it. Less control and more grit," he said yesterday.

Bedingfield is back in New Zealand to open Auckland's $80 million Vector Arena tomorrow night, marking the musician's first performance here.

"This is a really good gig to have as your first gig in New Zealand. Arenas are fun," joked Bedingfield.

"Twelve thousand people isn't overwhelming. Party in the Park [in the UK] with 126,000 people, that was overwhelming."

The singer, best known for the hit Gotta Get Thru This, became an international superstar when the track, recorded in his bedroom, topped the UK charts in 2001.

Since then, Britain has long tried to claim the musician as its own, but Bedingfield remains adamant he is a Kiwi boy at heart.

"When I read Kiwi-born I get a bit upset. I live here, I'm going to die here. I've got a Kiwi passport and I've had a house here since I moved out of home," he said.

"I spend about three months of the year here. That doesn't sound a lot but I don't spend three months of the year anywhere. I travel the rest of the time.

"I want to raise my children here and learn Maori."

A major drawcard to life in New Zealand, said Bedingfield, was how easy it was to remain anonymous.

He also finds he is more creative Downunder.

"I write huge amounts when I'm here."

Despite the singer's global success - his first album sold more than three million albums - Bedingfield admits his music has never been a major hit with New Zealand listeners.

"I didn't really promote it much. I've probably been a bit selfish, I just want to be anonymous here as much as I can."

After a three-year hiatus, following his album Second First Impression, Bedingfield now has three albums recorded and awaiting release.

In addition, he has been campaigning hard to stop people-trafficking in Third World countries with Stop the Traffik global coalition, which he set up with his friend Steve Chalk.

ROCK THE HOUSE:

WHAT: Vector Arena Official Opening, featuring Daniel Bedingfield, Yulia, Don McGlashan, Goldenhorse, Sir Howard Morrison and more

WHEN: Tomorrow from 7.30pm

TICKETS: $30 from TicketMaster.

* For further information, visit www.stopthetraffik.org

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