Pandemic has offered a chance to slow down and reflect, says Billy Ocean

The coronavirus pandemic has offered a chance to slow down and reflect on our priorities in life, Billy Ocean has said.

The R&B and reggae singer, who was made an MBE in the 2020 New Year Honours list, said life had been moving too fast before lockdown and urged people to be patient and tolerant.

Ocean, 71, released One World, his first album of new material in 10 years, in September but has been unable to tour in support of it due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Instead, he has spent time at home in Berkshire, where he has lived with his family since 1979.

He told the PA news agency: “Even as adults we have to be patient. A lot of time as grown-ups we tend to want things to be the way we want it. It doesn’t really necessarily work that way.

“We have to be patient. We have to be tolerant and I think this pandemic we are going through, I like to think it has taught not just this country but the world, I like to think it had taught us a lot.

“The world was moving at such a fast rate. It was moving much too fast really and truly.

“You can look at it in many different ways. For me I look at it that it gives us a chance to slow things down a little bit.

“It gives us a chance to look into ourselves, it has given us a chance to look into our relationships, it has given us a chance to assess things mentally, physically and spiritually.”

Ocean has recorded a cover of Lovely Day by Bill Withers – featuring the Young Voices Choir, saxophonist YolanDa Brown and The Voice 2018 champion Ruti Olajugbagbe – to coincide with Children’s Mental Health Week, with profits going to children’s mental health charity Place2Be.

He described Withers, who died in March last year aged 81, as “a very talented” and “very individual” songwriter.

He added: “I always think Bill Withers must have been a really spiritual man to have written those sorts of songs, songs that really appeal to people en masse.

Royal reception ahead of West Africa visit
Royal reception ahead of West Africa visit

“Lovely Day, what a lovely title for a song. What a lovely, inspirational, uplifting piece of music, which is what we need right now.”

Ocean said he would only leave Berkshire, his home of more than 40 years, if it was to return to the Caribbean, where he was born.

He said: “All the kids grew up here, the kids went to school here. I am comfortable here so it doesn’t make much sense going anywhere else.

“I think if I went anywhere else it would be back to the Caribbean. Especially with weather like this. It makes you want to do that.

“You can’t even do that now because if you do it, you have got to do 14 days lockdown, so it doesn’t make much sense travelling right now.

“Normally I go every year, sometimes twice a year, but this year I haven’t been able to.

“Last year I did something very early in the year so I was lucky. But you know, I haven’t been able to go.

“I miss that because it gets me into a different environment. It gets me into a slower pace of life. It helps me.”

Place2Be launched the first Children’s Mental Health Week in 2015 to shine a light on children and young people’s mental health.

Its school-based teams estimate that 85% of the young people they support have been negatively affected by the pandemic, and have seen an increase in referrals around self-harm and suicidal thoughts in secondary schools.

Lovely Day is out now on Magic Star, a children’s entertainment label of Sony Music UK.