As a disco icon, Kathy Sledge has seen it all. The childhood Sister Sledge star was propelled onto a frenetic club scene before she was old enough to legally enter the venues in which she performed.

She has gone on to play across the world, singing at such high profile shows from Zaire 74, during George Foreman and Muhammad Ali’s Rumble in the Jungle, to the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury Festival.

But it is her show in Oxfordshire tonight which has got the singer really excited.

“I can’t wait!” she laughs. “I am so excited about what is going to happen there. It looks beautiful and is going to be absolutely amazing

“ I’d love to be able to stay and experience it too.”

She laughs: “It’s going to be different to the other places we’ve been playing. We’ve been doing a lot of festivals – and I love it.”

Kathy plays the Great Court at the palace tonight with Disco Classical, which sees her performing the greatest hits of disco with the 35-piece Manchester Camerata Orchestra – previously responsible for the Hacienda Classical show which blew away the Big Feastival a couple of years ago.

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Expect to hear vintage disco floor-fillers from Michael Jackson, Prince, Chaka Khan, Diana Ross, Chic and more but with a uniquely orchestral twist.

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The show will be the finale to tonight’s concert by seven-time Grammy-winning singer Gladys Knight, famed for such hits as Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me and Midnight Train to Georgia.The show will be supported by Gabrielle.

“I have been singing music since I was a kid and I can tell how well it has been embraced,” says Philadelphia-born Kathy, now aged 60 and enjoying life performing the hits which made Sister Sledge world-wide stars.

Along with her real-life sisters Debbie, Joni and Kim, Kathy won fans throughout the disco era with breakthrough album We Are Family, peaking at number three on the US album chart. Singles He’s the Greatest Dancer, We Are Family and Lost in Music remain dancefloor anthems.

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They also scored success with their remake of Mary Wells’ 1964 hit My Guy, Mama Never Told Me, Thinking of You and 80s hit Frankie.

“So much of this is feel-good music,” says Kathy. “People can expect the hits they know and want to hear.

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“The theme of the evening is disco, and I am watching disco reinvent itself. Good music doesn’t go away; it is resilient, and there’s a whole new generation new to it.”

She adds: “I was 16 when I started, and grew up singing disco music and loved it – and can see why others did too!

“Nile Rodgers [the Grammy-award founder of chic who produced Sister Sledge’s first album] was recording a party – trying to emulate a party on record and the party was on the track, literally.

“Good music speaks for itself!”

Nocturne Live continues tomorrow with Lauryn Hill, Laura Mvula and Mahalia.

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Hill, a former member of the Fugees, was one of the biggest stars of the ‘90s having hits with Ready or Not, Fu-Gee-La and a reworking of the Roberta Flack classic Killing Me Softly. She will perform a career-spanning greatest hits set featuring tracks from her multi Grammy award-winning solo album The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill, alongside classic Fugees songs and new material.

Saturday sees Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith of electro-pop act Tears for Fears taking the stage, with support from White Lies and Scritti Politti, while Kylie brings the festival to a crowd-pleasing finale on Sunday with Sophie Ellis-Bextor and the Hackney Colliery Band.

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And Kathy has some advice for audience members. “Come to dance,” she says. “So do not wear heels! Oh, and have the best time ever– that’s what music is all about.”

  • Nocturne Live runs from tonight to Sunday with sets from Gladys Knight, plus Disco Classical with Sister Sledge feat. Kathy Sledge tonight, Lauryn Hill tomorrow, Tears for Fears on Saturday and Kylie on Sunday.
  • The Nocturne concert area opens from 4.30pm. The music will commence at approximately 6pm, followed by two intervals, and finish by 11pm.