AS she prepares to come to Manchester with a string quartet in tow, singer songwriter Gretchen Peters admits that she’s looking forward to the show as much as any audience member.

The Southern Fried String Quartet will be joining Gretchen’s regular band for a one-off tour which will feature songs from throughout her career.

“We performed with a string quartet as a one-off in Perth last year,” said Gretchen. “It was so wonderful, as we walked off stage and said ‘we have to do that again’.”

Gretchen revived the show as part of this year’s Celtic Connections festival and is currently playing specially selected venues around the country.

“We’ve really tried hard to choose rooms that will enhance this thing that we’re doing,” she said. “This is a special tour that we are doing. It’s kind of a once in a lifetime thing.

“I have string charts that go all the way back to my first records so the setlist has ended up becoming a bit of a retrospective, more so than it would be if I was touring with just my band.

“We’re going back and revisiting songs from those very first records to the latest one.

“That’s very exciting for me. When you add something so evocative as strings, they get to the emotional heart of a song, so when you get that going on it’s like I’m experiencing the song as if it were new again. Also the size of the sound is so great. When the strings come in it feels like surfing, there’s a big wave underneath you.”

Nashville-based Gretchen, who has written songs for the likes of Etta James, Neil Diamond and Bryan Adams plus some of the biggest names in country music, said that various dates on the UK tour would be recorded with a view to putting a live album out.

“I really think we have to take advantage of the situation and the beautiful acoustic of these halls we are playing. It is not the thing you do every day,” she said.

She added that she is also working on an album of songs written by Mickey Newbury, like her a member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, who died in 2002.

“He was one of the most unsung but greatest songwriters of his time in Nashville,” she said.

“But before then we’ve got this very special tour and it’s so appropriate we can bring it to UK audiences because they were the people who kept my touring career alive for me when there wasn’t much else going on for me. It is fitting that they get the chance to share the experience with me”

Gretchen Peters, RNCM, Manchester, Tuesday, April 16. Details from 0161 907 5200 or