THE ‘special relationship’ between the UK and the United States is something politicians over the years have often referred to.

For Howard Hewitt, the connection between his band Shalamar and fans in the UK is a living, breathing thing.

“We’ve had a special affinity with you guys forever,” he said as he prepared to bring Shalamar to Manchester next week.

It was in the early 1980s when Shalamar burst on to the scene in the UK with the band comprising Howard, Jeffrey Daniel and Jody Whatley.

Hits including Night to Remember, I Can Make You Feel Good and There it Is meant that for a period, they were almost permanent fixtures on Top of the Pops.

Howard and Jeffrey reformed the band in 1999 although Jody Whatley decided not to get involved to pursue her solo career and her place in Shalamar was subsequently taken up by Carolyn Griffey, daughter of Dick Griffey, the boss of Solar Records who first put Shalamar together.

Since then Shalamar have played several sold out tours in the UK with fans desperate to hear the hits once more.

“Shalamar have always been about feelgood music,” said Howard. “Especially in these time with you guys with Brexit and over here with Trump we need some feelgood music more than ever.

“The songs still stand out and they still make you feel the same way that you did back in the early 80s. They still generate that same atmosphere and we have a great time doing it.”

Howard admits that if you had told him then that he would still be performing Shalamar hits more than 35 years later he wouldn’t have believed you.

“No, I definitely wouldn’t,” he said. “But even then we thought that given the great reaction we got over there at least we had created something which had a little place in your hearts.”

In the States, Howard has his own hugely successful solo career but he looks forward to taking Shalamar out on the road.

“As much as it seems to be a great thing for you guys for Shalamar to come over, it’s also an amazing thing for me too,” he said. “It’s a chance for me to take a break from the solo stuff and dedicate some time to the history between the UK and Shalamar.”

Carolyn Griffey has firmly established herself as a member of the band.

“Jeffrey and I didn’t even audition anyone when Jody said she didn’t want to get involved with the band when we reformed,” he said. “Carolyn was just the obvious choice not just because of her history with the band, but also due to her talent and her energy.

“People will come to me and say ‘Carolyn does the Jody part’ but I tell them ‘no Carolyn does the Carolyn part’. She’s an integral part of the band.”

Howard puts Shalamar’s enduring appeal down to one thing.

“I believe in strong foundations,” he said. “And I believe that Shalamar has a strong foundation, particularly in the UK.”

Shalamar, Manchester Ritz, Tuesday, November 27. Details from