The Proud singer, 57, revealed she first noticed bias against her at the age of seven, when she was asked how the music industry has changed since she started out in the late 1980s.
She told Metro: “It was actually starting out in my life, because I faced racism from the age of seven. So I know when somebody’s trying to offend and denigrate me. There isn’t a week goes by when something doesn’t happen because of my racial makeup. But I always deal with it head on. School years were difficult because there was never an even playing field and that’s all anyone wants – being treated as an equal human being. It should be a given.”
Admitting she has “never been good at being told what to do”, Small said that the music landscape has become a more equal playing field now that artists can own their own labels.
She said: “A lot of artists, especially African-American ones, just started their own labels, becoming all-round entrepreneurs within the music business. Somebody like Stormzy has followed that template of ‘I am able to do everything’.
“I applaud that kind of business acumen because they’ve taken control. Women aren’t always allowed to do that. They often have to compromise themselves visually to do what they want musically.”
Small, who is best known for her hits Moving On Up and Search for the Hero, recently appeared on The Masked Singer as Chandelier, where she became the first celebrity to be axed from the series.
The acclaimed hitmaker said she decided to take part in the show after watching fellow singer Gabrielle and 2021 winner Joss Stone say how much fun it was.
Ms Truss walked on to the stage at the Conservative Party conference to their 1990s hit Moving On Up, which features vocalist Small, ahead of delivering her keynote speech, two weeks before she resigned.
The dance anthem, which was released by the Manchester-based band in 1993, peaked at number two on the UK singles chart.
Pickering told the PA news agency: “They (the band) are livid. Heather’s boy James is a Labour councillor. Hopefully most people will know that they have pirated it off us.”
Pickering added that the band had contacted their lawyers but been advised there was little that could be done.