Tag Archives: Katherine Jenkins

John Owen-Jones: Time to Rise

A week today and West End star John Owen-Jones will be taking to the stage with Katherine Jenkins on the first night of her headline tour of the UK.  John also has a new album, Rise, due for release on 2 March and if that wasn’t enough, it’s just been announced that he will star as Pirelli in the much anticipated ENO production of Sweeney Todd from 30 March to 12 April this year! Click here for tickets.

In advance of all this, I caught up with him to ask a few questions (my questions / comments in bold) – thanks John! Also, huge thanks to Jacqui Archer, JOJ super fan, who helped me come up with some great questions.

How did you choose the tracks for Rise – and what didn’t make the cut?     It’s a lengthy process actually. I spent a year putting together various tracklistings with various concepts attached to them but in the end went for a tracklisting that had variety. At one point I had a Rolling Stones track, something from a very rarely performed musical, an opera track, a prog rock track…the list goes on. But I very much wanted the album to be cohesive and some songs I really liked just didn’t fit well enough with some of my favourites. So they had to go. Hopefully I’ll use them down the line somewhere.

How do you choose duetting partners on your albums, in this case Ruthie Henshall and Madalena Alberto?  I try to choose singers I like that really fit the song well. I also choose people I’m friends with as there is already chemistry there. There were ideas for other duets but I knew I wanted to work with Ruthie and Madalena at some point as I think they are both brilliant. When putting the album together I knew I had the perfect songs for them to shine on so it ended up being an easy choice to have them on the album. I’m lucky they said yes!

You mix and produce your own music, why is that and what does it involve (most of us have no clue!)?  Basically producing is pulling all the different elements of making a recording together and mixing is blending the various sounds together to make it sound as good as possible. A couple of months before recording starts I sit down with my record company and decide on the final tracks for the album. Then my musical director John Quirk and I go through each song and how it should sound, what instruments are needed etc. We then demo the songs with a just piano and vocal to get a feel for how the album should flow and how the songs sound together. I then arrange a running order of songs and start coming up with ideas for artwork while John arranges the music and books the musicians. We then rehearse and record the musicians over a few days whilst I sing a guide vocal to set tempos. After the music is recorded I’ll record my vocals which can take several weeks depending on the nature of the material. Guests artistes then record their contribution and the mixing process starts. This basically involves balancing all the sounds recorded. A trumpet may be too loud on one small part of a track for example so we adjust the volume to make it sit better in the overall sound. During mixing we may end up dropping or adding instruments as necessary, changing certain vocals, adding harmonics, sound effects and many other things. The end result is hopefully what I hear in my head. If not, things get tweaked until it sounds right to me. Mixing can be a very time consuming process as you have to mix and listen to every track dozens of times. On an album thats an average of 45 mins long that takes ages. It’s a finicky slow process but one which I enjoy as I love sculpting the sound. There are many singers out there who have nothing to do with this process and just record the vocals. That’s fine but it’s not really me. I love the idea that I’m shaping something artistic when I record an album and want to be involved in every aspect of production if I can.

What are you most looking forward to about touring with Katherine Jenkins and will you be duetting with her in the show?  I will be singing with her, yes. I’m looking forward to that. I’m also looking forward to performing in venues/cities I’ve never been to before and meeting lots of new people. (Tickets are still available, click here).

If you concentrate on your solo music, will we be seeing you on your own headline tour?  Hopefully! If audiences and promoters want me I’ll do it! Pretty sure there’s an audience out there for you John!

What is your favourite song to sing and what is the song you have sung most? Probably Bring Him Home from Les Miz. That answers both those questions I think!

If there is one song that Alfie Boe fans expect him to sing at a concert it is Bring Him Home; do your fans have that same expectation of you? Of course. Luckily I love singing it.

The video of you and Alfie singing BHH at his RAH concert in 2013 has over 115,000 views – any plans to worth with him again?  Not at the moment – but hopefully our paths will cross again. I didn’t plan to work with him that night at the Albert Hall. He dragged me up onstage with no rehearsal, totally unprompted. It was a shock to say the least. I really enjoyed it though! The bloke sitting in the seat next to me didn’t know who I was (he’d been dragged along to the show by his wife I think) and was gobsmacked when I joined Alfie onstage!

When I asked the question, the views for this video stood at 115,000 – now they’re up to 122,000 and counting! Thanks for sharing Linda – it was a magical moment.

John’s new album, Rise is due to be released on 2 March and is available now for pre-order:

JOJ Rise

John’s new album got a plug on Flo Bannigan’s blog this week too! – click here.

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Alfie Boe’s Best Ever Live Song: Number 2

Two weeks until the start of the tour and we have three songs left in Alfie Boe’s Best Ever Live Song Countdown!  Yes, you heard correctly – this is the number two slot but there was a tie for the vote so two songs are at number 2!

The first is a song that we haven’t heard from Alfie since the Bring Him Home tour and it is the song he used to end the show with.  Jacob’s Ladder is spiritual, gospel tinged song that has been recorded by a variety of artists including Bruce Springsteen (again, I am continuing my musical education thanks to Alfie and only just getting into Springsteen – I know! – and thinking that he must be an amazing artist to see live):

For a completely different sound, here is Paul Robeson from 1958:

Here is Alfie’s version:

The second song in at number 2 is the much loved Barcelona duet with Laura Wright.  This song also made the top five duets poll earlier in the year and is one that is most often cited as a favourite amongst fans.  Alfie and Laura performed this at the Mercury Phoenix Trust Freddie for a Day fundraising celebrations in 2013 and later featured on Alfie’s exploration of Queen frontman, Freddie Mercury.

Breathtaking every time.

Don’t forget, from Monday, you can also download Alfie’s recorded version on Katherine Jenkins’ new album, Home Sweet Home:

katherine jenkins

Serenata is also released on Monday and can be ordered below:


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Album Release Dates – What’s That All About?

With two weeks left until Alfie Boe’s new album, Serenata, is released, I thought it would be a good time to look at how record labels choose when to release an album. This is particularly pertinent for Alfie Boe fans as we all got very excited when Amazon and iTunes listed Serenata as being released a week earlier than the original date, 17th November.  Unfortunately, that was a false start as a few weeks later, the album was back to it’s original release date.  Officially, there is no reason for this; it’s just the way things turned out.

Of course, when I started looking into the subject, it turned out to be a lot more complicated than you might think – as does pretty much everything!  Record labels exist to sell records, pure and simple and so attaining a good chart position and decent sales are the be all and end all of making an album.  Excellent quality records are great but if they don’t sell enough to pay the bills they aren’t going to keep the artist on the Christmas card list.

Looking at Alfie’s previous albums with Decca, this will be the fourth to be released in the run up to Christmas (Bring Him Home was released just after Christmas) and they have all sold well in that time frame, so a good decision to go for that again.  All have achieved top ten status in the official album charts in the first week and have continued to sell well.  Amazon currently lists all Alfie’s Decca albums in their top 100 album bestsellers.

Social media and fan forums have seen a fair amount of concern that Serenata is due to be released on the same day as albums by Katherine Jenkins and Michael Ball.  Although most of Katherine’s previous albums have hit number 1 on the classical charts, they have not had the same degree of success on the official “normal” charts, although they have usually achieved top ten status.  Michael’s first album hit number 1 on the official chart and since then, he has consistently achieved the top twenty.  At first glance they might be seen to be playing to the same audience but a look at the numbers doesn’t necessarily bear that out.

Alfie’s Decca albums, all released in similar time frames to Katherine and Michael, have all achieved top ten status and with his much anticipated and talked about return to a more classical style, there is no reason to think that this year’s sales should be any different.  In fact, it could be said that releasing Serenata on the same day as Katherine’s  Home Sweet Home will work to Alfie’s advantage as he is guesting on that album – let’s face it, once everyone listens to Barcelona on Home Sweet Home they will instantly want to hear more and buy Serenata as well!

On the same topic, in 2013 there were murmurs of disgruntlement from Alfie fans when Trust was released on the same day as Gary Barlow’s album.  Trust still achieved the top ten in that first week so it didn’t seem to hurt and, much as it may hurt to admit, Gary Barlow has a much bigger fan base than Alfie and appeals to a much wider audience.  In reality, releasing on the same day as a mega artist like Barlow really makes little or no difference to Alfie’s sales.

As fans, if we want to boost #AlfieBoeSerenata in the run up to the album release and the #AlfieBoeUKTour the way to do it is to shout about it as much as we can on our social media platform of choice – use the hashtags in everything you tweet about Alfie and retweet everything else you see.  If possible, get Alfie to retweet as well (alright, I know I’m asking a lot here, but it’s not impossible!) and let’s get him trending.

Bombard your local radio stations, as well as ClassicFM, BBC Radio 2 and any other stations you can think of, to play Alfie – don’t forget the hashtag #AlfieBoeSerenata!  A huge number of people listen to their local radio station each week which is why Alfie does a lot of promo appearances and linked interviews with them.

Hope you enjoyed finding out a bit about why record labels choose to release albums when they do – if you did, just let me know in the comments box and please share!

In anticipation, let’s take a look at Volare:


Serenata can be pre-ordered below:


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Alfie Boe’s Serenata To Be Released A Week Early!

on 10th November!

For those of us anxiously awaiting to hear the whole of Alfie Boe’s new album, Serenata, (oh, you mean all of us?) the fantastic news from Decca is that the release date has been brought forward by a week!!!!!

This may be due to the fact that Michael Ball and Katherine Jenkins both have albums due for release on 17th November but whatever the reason it’s a win for Alfie fans!  Alfie fans will also still win on 17th as Alfie is also featuring on Katherine’s album, with his duet of Barcelona.

As there is now a whole new week to play with, that means there’s plenty of time for a few CD signing sessions – pretty please Alfie and Decca!

In another bit of good news and fabulous marketing, Alfie has also released a new Serenata video, featuring the soaring vocals of Addio Sogni Di Gloria  thanks Alfie!

Serenata can be pre-ordered below:


Make Some Noise with Alfie Boe

Today saw the news that Alfie will be part of the Make Some Noise charity single which will be recorded at the AIR studios on 9th October and released the following day.  Alfie sing a solo alongside Katherine Jenkins, Aled Jones, Alexander Armstrong who will be complemented by Sol3Mio, Myleene Klass on piano, classical guitarist Milos Karadaglic and Classic FM presenters Laurence Llewellyn-Bowen (percussion) and John Suchet (trombone).  Alfie’s fellow Decca artist, Laura Wright will also appear.  Howard Goodall, pictured below with Katherine Jenkins and John Suchet, will write the single.

Katherine Jenkins, John Suchet and Howard Goodall

Make Some Noise is a brand new charity designed to help disadvantaged young people in the UK.  Grants awarded include funds to charities helping children and young people with illness, bereavement, disablility and lack of opportunities.  The charity was set up in 2014 by Global, whose media business includes Classic FM, Heart, and Capital radio stations, Heart TV and a highly successful music publishing wing.

Stay tuned for more news about the recording and purchasing of the Make Some Noise single!


Meet Katherine Jenkins

On the face of it, it’s a wonder that Alfie Boe and Katherine Jenkins haven’t collaborated more.  Both are from distinctly non traditional classical backgrounds, he from Fleetwood, Lancashire and she from Neath, South Wales.  They even both won scholarships to distinguished music colleges (Royal College of Music and Royal Academy of Music, respectively) although their route to these life changing opportunities were markedly different.  However, it is their choices taken after graduating that may indicate the reason as to why their forthcoming duet on Katherine’s new album is only their second collaboration (they previously performed together at a John Barry tribute in 2011).

After graduating, Alfie began performing in opera houses around the world, taking the more traditional route of trained opera singers, whilst Katherine signed the biggest recording deal in classical music (at the time) at the age of 23.  Hit album after hit album for her label, Decca, followed and although she was often asked about venturing onto the stage in an operatic role, that has never really been part of the plan.

Katherine Jenkins was born in 1980 and began singing as a child, appearing in the Choirgirl of the Year competition and the BBC radio 2 Welsh Choirgirl of the Year (winning twice).  She was also a member of the Royal School of Church Music Cathedral Singers and the National Youth Choir of Wakes.  A performance at a mass honouring the Pope’s silver jubilee at Westminster Cathedral followed her graduation from the Royal Academy of Music and she also supported Aled Jones on tour, before performing at the Sydney Opera House as a special guest of Max Boyce.  Since then, in between releasing her albums, and appearing on Dancing with the Stars on US TV (she came second) she has also been the Forces Sweetheart, only last month appearing at the D Day 70th anniversary commemorations at the Royal Albert Hall.  As I write this, I’m struck by the thought that maybe this early career trajectory is also in the minds of those masterminding soprano Laura Wright’s career.  Laura is also signed to Decca, has a couple of hit albums to her name and also appeared at those D Day commemorations, albeit in France in the morning and not at the Royal Albert Hall in the evening.

Katherine is now back with the label that started it all, Decca, after an ill-fated detour with Warner Bros.  I’m guessing the title of her new album, 10 years after her first signing, Home Sweet Home, is about more than just returning to a more traditional classical repertoire.

Perhaps we will see more of Katherine and Alfie together in the future, given that they have duetted on Barcelona.  Certainly, their PR machines seem to be working in accordance; tracks from both albums were played by John Suchet on his ClassicFM radio show recently, both have CD and calendar bundles available from Decca and both albums are due for release on the same day, 17th November.  Click here to pre-order Alfie Boe’s Serenata and Katherine Jenkins’ Home Sweet Home.

Let’s take another look at Barcelona, from the Edinburgh Castle concert last weekend:

for more info about Katherine, click here for her website:

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Barcelona Live with Alfie Boe & Katherine Jenkins

Hot on the heels of the news that Alfie Boe has recorded Barcelona on Katherine Jenkins’ new album, we heard the song live for the first time.

Alfie and Katherine appeared at the “Live at Edinburgh Castle” concert ahead of next week’s Commonwealth Games and while all the pop acts got at least two songs each, the classical acts had to put up with only one, much to the consternation of their fans!  Twitter and facebook were (and still are) awash with comments along the lines of “why only one song”.

Still, in the case of Alfie and Katherine, what a corker their one song was!  If you haven’t seen it yet, or even if you have and want to see it again…and again…and again, here it is:

If you want to pre-order the album, click on the image below:

katherine jenkins

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Alfie Boe Guests on Katherine Jenkins New Album

Earlier in the year, Alfie Boe fans were thrilled to discover that he was recording a song for a Decca label mate’s next album.  Speculation was rife as to the artist in question and the song they would sing together…now I’m happy to say that I was right and Alfie will be appearing on Katherine Jenkins’ new album, Home Sweet Home.  The  song is Barcelona, so memorably performed with Laura Wright at the Freddie for a Day evening last year.  This version made the top 5 f the recent Alfie Boe’s Best Ever Duet poll so no pressure for this version then!

Click on the album cover below to order through the thoughtsofjustafan Amazon store:

katherine jenkins


Alfie fans were spoilt when the album was released as it was released on the same day  Serenata.  Serenata is also available for to buy, so if you haven’t yet done so, click on the album cover below:


Great to see Alfie duetting with Katherine on her new album, they have sung together before, although this will be with first time on an album.  The previous occasion was at the Classic Brits in 2011 when they teamed up for a John Barry tribute and again at Edinburgh Castle in advance of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow (just don’t ask Alfie what Commonwealth sports he likes!):


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