Interview: Heather Peace, actress, singer

THE line of turgid musical offerings from actors-turned-singers is long, but the latest thespian to seize the microphone has all the right credentials.

Heather Peace may have made her name as a regular in The Bill, London's Burning and, most famously, playing DS Sam Murray in BBC3's Lip Service, but the Yorkshire lass had already paid her musical dues.

A classically trained pianist, she played in a big band and held a jazz residency at Manchester's Velvet during her time at drama school.

"There was a point in my career where I felt like I had to choose between acting and music and, at the time, the acting route felt right," explains the 34-year-old, speaking ahead of her first ever Edinburgh gig, at Cabaret Voltaire on Saturday night.

"I didn't like the ideas that record labels had for me, and I wasn't really ready to show myself completely."

Peace put the music career on the backburner while her acting career took off, but she never stopped singing and writing songs.

She describes her sound as a mix-match of a very plucky acoustic style and a slightly rocky influence.

"I sang for nine years - right through drama school and everything - and I had a jazz guitarist, who was awesome," she says. "I guess the style I play is a cross between watching him for nine years playing the jazz guitar and listening to Eva Cassidy play - it's quite plucky. I also like people like Sheryl Crow.

"It's just developing as it goes, because I've not really played that much. I've only just had the band rehearsals last week and it ended up being a little rockier than I thought it was going to be."

Laughing, she adds, "But hey, that's great. I wanted it to be a little more upbeat anyway, because some of the lyrics are a bit miserable."

The tour will be the first opportunity for the majority of fans to hear songs from Peace's album, This Is Me, performed live - and she hopes there will be many more gigs in the future.

"We've got a second series of Lip Service coming up, and what the music might enable me to do is only take really great acting roles," she says. "In the past I've had to take some quite rubbish TV stuff - and I can't name anything - just to pay the mortgage.

"If I can get to the point where I can do my music full-time and then pick and choose what acting roles I take, that would be great," she adds.

Heather Peace, Cabaret Voltaire, Blair Street, Saturday, 7pm, 16.50, 0131-220 6176