And as the stunned young performer prepared to fight the disease that had left her a shadow of her former self, she suddenly realised how completely she had been possessed by the spirit of the 70s American singing sensation.
Not only did her voice sound like that of the late Karen Carpenter, she had effortlessly adopted the mannerisms, gestures and ultimately the lifestyle of a unique artiste who had seemed to struggle with the pressures of stardom.
Now, having fought back to full health, Julie is set to re-launch her singing career and plans to use her unique Karen Carpenter performances to raise awareness of potentially fatal eating disorders – with a little help from the spirit world.
The 38 years old performer will devote part of her act to warn youngsters that the disease that led to the premature death of Karen Carpenter continues to take young lives 25 years on.
“When I became ill some people said I had fallen victim to the curse of Karen Carpenter,” said Julie, from her home in Sneyd Green, Stoke. “But it was the curse of anorexia that was doing the damage although it did start when I was working too hard continuing with the late singer’s work.
“I’ve always admired Karen’s voice although I was only a young girl when she died. So it was quite natural that I would try out some of her songs when I later became a professional singer,” explained Julie who also runs her own music school.
“It was the very positive reaction from the public to my Karen Carpenter performances that gave me the idea to develop a tribute act. People said I sounded liked her and some said that I had a look of her.
“People thought I had studied Carpenter’s shows to pick up her style and mannerisms but those mannerisms came naturally. I thought I was simply performing a stage act, but the more I got into Karen Carpenter, the more her spirit seemed to get into me.”
Demand for Julie’s performances at clubs and concert halls around the country grew so rapidly, that she began skipping meals.
“Yes I was busy, but I suppose I also wanted to look as much like Karen as possible. In some ways I wanted to be her. So much so that I even began to dream about her. At times I’m sure I actually felt her presence, especially when performing her numbers of stage.
Julie started out as a healthy size 14 weighing 11 stones and standing at 5feet 10. But she soon began to shed the pounds. Despite warnings from members of her family she continued to live on a meagre diet and ended up weighing just eight stone.
Eventually, the concerns of members of her family, convinced Julie to seek help. The anorexia diagnosis provided the shock she needed to re-take control of her life.
“I immediately dropped the tribute act, put together a show featuring numbers by more contemporary stars and slowly put Karen behind me,” recalled Julie. Slowly my weight crept up.”
Now back to full health, Julie believes her decision to re-launch her Karen Carpenter show is the right one. She is confidant she will remain in total control.
“The last time I allowed myself to be taken over by the spirit of Karen Carpenter. I tried to live the life that Karen did and I reacted to the pressures of that life in a similar way to her,” explained Julie
“I have family and friends who are spiritualists and they agree that the spirit of Karen played a part in what happened to me. But now I feel Karen wants me to re-launch the tribute act for a positive reason. To help raise awareness of the dreadful conditions like anorexia, a condition that killed her and could have killed me.
“Thankfully my experience of anorexia did not affect my love for Karen Carpenter’s style of music. I still want to get up on stage and enable people of all ages to appreciate her unique talent.
“But I also want to alert them and make them aware of the terrible consequences of the curse of anorexia.”
For further information on Julie click onto:www.julieheavenlyvoices.co.uk