Two years ago, Alfie was performing at several festivals, much as he has just done with Michael Ball, and Come What May was again part of his repertoire, albeit usually as a solo. In Llangollen though, the song was performed as a duet with Sophie Evans, who was also on the bill for that event; Sophie had also appeared with Alfie at Singleton Park earlier a few weeks previously.
Come What May is of course from Baz Luhrman’s Moulin Rouge, one of my favourite films of all time – who doesn’t love a film that you can sing along to, swoon over Ewan McGregor and then have a good cry at the end? Alfie has sung this song with a variety of partners over the years, from poll winner Rebecca Newman to, at the other end of the scale, Mel C but the one that sticks in my mind the most is Laura Wright from the Bring Him Home tour:
I’m sure I’m not the only one who loved Alfie and Laura together!
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Almost exactly a year ago, I blogged about Beth Ford’s debut single, If I Could Escape, which reached number 3 on an iTunes chart. Following a year in which Beth has performed live with People’s Soprano Rebecca Newman and tenor Jonathan Antoine as well as recording a duet with Michael Boe, I’m thrilled to be able to bring you the news that this wonderful single is being followed by a three track EP, to be released on Wednesday 13th July.
The Voyage comprises the title track, How We Love and Follow Your Dream and all three tracks showcase the improved maturity and strength of Beth’s voice. Last year I was struck by how much Beth had improved since I first heard her sing (on Alfie Boe’s Bring Him Home tour, with Alfie himself and Flo Bannigan) and a full twelve months on, I’m again struck by a much richer tone in her voice.
My favourite track is Chris Broom’s Follow Your Dream which sums up the performers mantra of believing in your dreams. Beth herself says “This sums up so perfectly what I believe in, nothing is impossible if you pursue your dreams…The lyrics of the song are simply perfect ‘your star will shine if you follow your dream‘”.
All three tracks flow seamlessly, telling a story of voyage, adventure and following your dreams which is what Beth seems to be doing quite successfully at the moment. Indeed, this weekend saw Beth sit at the top of amazon’s movers and shakers chart, thanks to all the pre-orders so far – an amazing achievement.
To order your download of The Voyage, just click on the image below:
If you click through now, you will also receive a musical gift from Beth to say ‘thank you’ and the chance to grab a special edition CD which features two bonus songs not available anywhere else. Having heard these extra two tracks, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend pre-ordering now. How do you get your hands on this? Once you have pre-ordered, just email email@example.com with ‘The Voyage Bonus’ in the subject line – then you sit back and wait for your download and free musical gift to arrive. Hurry – you only have until Wednesday to get this exclusive special offer!
2015 was a phenomenal year for singer Beth Ford, with a top ten iTunes hit on her debut single, a viral YouTube video and a slot with soprano Rebecca Newman at Lichfield’s Garrick theatre. All this and I haven’t mentioned Beth’s duet with Michael Boe for his album (with Sean Ashmore), Along the Way! However, 2016 is only a few weeks old and looks set to be just as good as last year, as Beth has just performed with Jonathan Antoine on the Birmingham leg of his Believe tour. Sharing the stage with Jonathan is an early highlight for Beth who said “I don’t have words to describe what was one of the best days of my life. I have been on Cloud nine ever since and I am so happy that everyone had a good time. I am grateful to Jonathan Antoine for giving me this fabulous opportunity”.
Angry Baby’s Flo Bannigan went along to the concert and reviewed it for us – thanks Flo!
Jonathan is the endearingly shy young man from Britain’s Got Talent who, along with his duet partner, Charlotte Jaconelli, shot to overnight fame at the audition stage. Only Pudsey the dog robbed them of first place! At that time, Jonathan was only 17 years old. He has still only just turned 21, but despite his young age he has developed confidence that commands the stage as a solo performer. Thankfully, this isn’t at the expense of a natural personality and playfulness that infects his singing and his chat with his audience. But it was the music that we came to hear, and we were not disappointed. Jonathan is much more than a classically-trained singer. His effortless vocals move from the strength and projection required for Granada through rich, plaintive tones for romantic Italian arias, to a truly tender lullaby Hushabye Mountain and love songs sung with softness and intensity that requires truly accomplished interpretation.
Jonathan’s talent for singing is matched by his talent for choosing supporting acts and the highlight was local girl Beth Ford. Enchanted by Beth’s pure, natural voice, which provided a gorgeous contrast to Jonathan’s rich tones throughout their duet of Come What May, there was an audible gasp from the audience when they heard that Beth is just 15 years old.
If it’s possible to feel an audience leaning in to hear and appreciate the emotion in every note, that’s the effect that Beth created through her solo Beautiful Dreamer. There is something other-worldly about Beth’s presence on stage and her hypnotic rendering of this classic song definitely left everyone wanting more. [Luckily Beth can give you more – click here to get your free download of I’m Always Chasing Rainbows.] Another local act, Rugby’s teenage ensemble The Strawhouse Singers ably rose to the challenge of supporting Jonathan’s powerful vocals.
Thank you for a wonderful review Flo! Of course, like six degrees of separation, Jonathan and Beth have both appeared on the same stage as Alfie Boe – Jonathan at 2015’s Llangollen Eistedfodd and Beth memorably sang Impossible Dream with Alfie on his 2012 Bring Him Home tour. Dare I say that Beth has gone one better than Jonathan in recording with a Boe? As mentioned in the introduction, Beth recorded a duet version of Streets of London with Alfie’s elder brother Michael in 2015 – click here to order.
Although this blog is primarily about Alfie Boe, I also like to bring you new music and one person who has featured fairly regularly here this year is the super talented Beth Ford, who first came to our attention singing Impossible Dream with Alfie and Flo Bannigan. That was a few years ago now and Beth’s voice has matured and taken her to places she never even thought of at the beginning of the year.
So far in 2015 Beth has released her debut single, If I Could Escape, which reached number 3 in an iTunes new releases chart, scored a viral YouTube video with a hauntingly beautiful rendition of Pie Jesu and supported People’s Soprano Rebecca Newman in concert at the Lichfield Garrick. The chance to sing on Rebecca’s stage meant a lot to Beth. She said “Appearing at the Lichfield Garrick to support Rebecca in July was a wonderful experience and I was genuinely touched by the generosity of Rebecca in asking me to be a part of her show.” Luckily, we can all enjoy the fruits of Rebecca’s generosity as she has given us permission to show this video of Beth’s performance:
This hasn’t been shared anywhere else yet so aren’t we the lucky ones!
Somehow or other Beth also found time to record a duet with Michael Boe which is included on his and Sean Ashmore’s new album, Along The Way, record an entry for G4’s Search for a Christmas Star competition and now she’s busy preparing to sing with young tenor Jonathan Antoine on the Birmingham date of his current UK tour (11th November, click here for tickets). We know that Beth has sung with Alfie Boe but did you also know that Jonathan has appeared with him too? They both appeared on the same night at the Llangollen Eistedfodd this summer – and another link – Beth went backstage to meet Alfie when he appeared at the Eistedfodd in 2012. Jonathan’s first solo tour is a bit of a back to basics approach, he says “The aim of this tour is to do away with over production. The intent with ‘An Evening with Jonathan Antoine’ is to remove the barriers between me and the audience…and go back to basics”. Having a local singer on the bill will do wonders to enhance Jonathan’s rapport with his audience too.
With all this happening for Beth in 2015, I can’t wait to see what she gets up to in 2016! Until then,as she’s such a lovely girl, she’s giving away a free music track, so hope over to www.bethfordmusic.com to add her beautiful voice to your music collection.
Michael Boe and Sean Ashmore’s album, Along The Way (featuring Beth on Streets of London) is available here: North Star Opera.
Tickets for Jonathan Antoine’s tour can be found by clicking here.
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A long way ahead of the competition was Rebecca Newman at Leeds – well done Rebecca. Second place went to Laura Wright, closely followed by Kerry Ellis. Click here to see the entire Favourite Alfie Boe Come What May playlist.
Of course, Alfie also sings this as a solo song but I prefer it as a duet and have done since I first saw the movie from which it is taken, Moulin Rouge, one of my favourite films. For those who are not familiar, Come What May is the only original song to feature in Baz Luhrman’s (another Alfie connection) musical reworking of La Boheme and is the big love song between Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman:
Ewan McGregor does a good job here – fun fact of the day, he appeared on the West End stage ten years ago in Guys and Dolls and was excellent. Whenever I hear Luck Be A Lady, I always think of Ewan in that production.
Some time last year thoughtsofjustafan ran a poll to find out the fan’s favourite Alfie Boe duet (the winner was of course Bryn Terfel with the Pearl Fishers duet) which threw up a variety of favourites ranging from the classical to Melanie C. This poll came back to me recently when I saw the video (thanks Linda) of Rebecca Newman singing with Alfie on Come What May in Leeds.
This was a staple of Alfie’s repertoire on his Bring Him Home tour which enabled him to duet with his guest singer and promote his album at the same time but it fell out of favour until the Serenata tour of 2014, although Alfie sang it as a solo song. I really like this song and have done since I first saw Moulin Rouge and have loved having it back in Alfie’s set so let’s see how many of you like it too, and which version do you like best?
Rebecca Newman’s chart topping album, Dare to Dream is available here:
Last September, something unique happened in the UK classical album chart: an independent artist went straight to number one! The album is Dare to Dream and the artist is the People’s Soprano, Rebecca Newman, who has just announced new concert dates. To talk about this and her current tour supporting Russell Watson, I met up with Rebecca before the Richmond tour date.
I started by asking about being an independent artist, as yet unsigned to a major record label. Is signing to a major in the plan? Since Dare to Dream hit the top spot in 2014, Rebecca says there has been a lot of industry interest and awareness in her as an artist which will hopefully lead to some fruitful conversations. Interestingly, it is other, established artists who have so far given the most public support. Alfie Boe has tweeted his support for Dare to Dream, saying Casta Diva is his favourite track and of course, Russell Watson invited Rebecca to tour with him as his special guest on the current Up Close and Personal Tour. Should a major record company deal come to pass, a lot of fans will be ready and willing to snap up that album.
Dare to Dream, as well as being the album title, is also one of the original songs co-written by Rebecca and seems to be the perfect song for her at this stage of her career. In fact, many fans relate to it, saying it means a lot to them, often for very different reasons. For her part, Rebecca says that the song is about the inspiring little moments that happen in your life along the way:
whatever your dream is, own it, love it, follow it
Rebecca certainly seems to be following her own advice here as she has come a very long way in the music industry since she first started busking in York ten years ago. At first, busking was a means to an end but Rebecca soon found that it was a great way to connect with an audience whilst building a fan base as well as earning money. In this way, Rebecca has been recording and selling her own music although Dare to Dream was the first album eligible for official chart release. Street performing is a very pure, honest style of performance and this seems to suit Rebecca, so much so that she says she gets withdrawal symptoms when she doesn’t do it for a while. She enjoys engaging with fans on such an intimate level which has sometimes meant that she has had to work harder to connect with a larger audience. Her best advice when faced with a larger audience is to just simply “sing”. Perform first and chat second, an approach that has worked to her advantage as a special guest to Russell Watson. I was lucky enough to see Rebecca perform on the Richmond tour date and while a few members of the audience were clearly baffled when she first came on stage, they were very impressed after her first song. There were audible gasps of appreciation when she then mentioned her number one classical album…all without a major record label behind her. By the time her part of the show was finished, the audience was won over. I questioned how street performing would fit in with a more successful, visible music career and Rebecca was quite clear that major success would not stop her performing pop up gigs in any way – let’s hope we get the chance to find out! A fan’s comment to Rebecca that “you’ve set down deep roots so the wind won’t blow you away” would seem to bear witness that she has a strong and loyal fan base.
As mentioned earlier, Rebecca has recently announced her own concert dates, the first of which is Lichfield Garrick theatre on 16 July 2015 (on sale 1 May) and she is understandably excited about the prospect of being the star attraction. There are other projects and collaborations to be confirmed and announced and together with an appearance on BBC’s Songs of Praise (recorded but no transmission date yet) this should be an exciting time for fans. Amongst other things, Dare to Dream will hopefully be re-issued as a single complete with a new video! Until then, take a look at the current video:
Although this blog is primarily about the uber talented Alfie Boe, we also like to showcase other music, especially young and upcoming voices who are starting out on their musical journey. Long term readers will remember reading about a young singer by the name of Beth Ford – I’m happy to tell you that Beth has just launched her website ahead of the release of her debut single later this year.
I caught up with Beth recently to talk about this exciting development in her musical career:
Beth started singing in public with her local church choir, Jigsaw at age 5 and she also had her first solo at this young age! From then, she has been singing with the Voice in a Million Choir and the Walsall Youth Choir amongst others. In addition, Beth regularly performs at an Open Mic night in her home town of Bloxwich and always gets lovely comments about her pure, natural voice. This quite often leads to further performances; most of her appearance invitations can be traced back to those open mic nights.
In this day of reality TV and the seemingly never ending ways of making it to the big time quickly, many people will want to know why Beth hasn’t tried and has no interest in, Britain’s Got Talent or similar. Quite simply, Beth prefers to hone her talent in a natural progression – she knows she can sing so being told that she can sing in such a public way does not hold any attraction for her. She wants to make it on her own merits and not just because she appeared on a TV talent contest. This isn’t the confidence of youth talking either as this quote from Rebecca Newman, The People’s Soprano shows:
‘Beth’s interpretation of these songs is very relaxing and sung with an elegant simplicity – without pretence or ego – which is so refreshing!’
Perhaps surprisingly for a teenager, Beth’s musical influences are mainly musical theatre, especially Les Mis which is how she first came to hear the vocal ability of her main inspiration, Alfie Boe. Upon seeing the DVD of LM25, Beth was overwhelmed with the music and Boe himself, so much so that her parents got her VIP tickets for Boe’s Bring Him Home tour. The concert date was December 2011 and Beth soon found that the VIP element involved a meet and greet with Boe before the performance. Also at that meet and greet was another young singer, Flo Bannigan and Alfie invited the pair to sing Impossible Dream with him at that afternoon’s soundcheck. To say they were excited was an understatement but the result was beyond their wildest dreams. The video below shows Alfie and conductor James Morgan exchanging glances of appreciation at Beth’s voice and Alfie was so impressed that he invited the girls to sing in the concert with him.
Beth cites this as the moment that gave her the confidence to further explore and develop her voice; as she says
“if Alfie hadn’t have done that, I would never have had the confidence to keep going”.
As inspiring as this was, that wasn’t the last of Alfie’s generosity. Beth and family had tickets for Alfie’s concert at Llangollen and when his management got wind of this, they were all invited backstage during the interval. Beth still has the unopened Mars Bar Alfie gave her!
Now, Beth is starting to take her first steps into the world of recording and releasing which she first got into through her singing teacher Gary Hill who worked at Birmingham Music Academy which has its own recording studio, Progress Studio. The result was the unreleased I’m Always Chasing Rainbows and Beth is giving you the chance to download and hear her naturally gifted voice – for free!
Click here for Beth’s website and download I’m Always Chasing Rainbows now – hurry, this is a limited time offer!
You won’t regret it but don’t take my word for it, this is what Michael Boe had to say about Beth:
‘So refreshing to hear a young artist really use her natural and unique voice without resorting to vocal gimmicks. This is an artist who deserves to be heard and is certainly one to watch out for in the future. Every note, spot on.’
So, if you’re a fan of soulful female vocalists, visit Beth Ford Music and get the free download I’m Always Chasing Rainbows. This hasn’t been released…so get it while you can!
This week I have been listening to “People’s Soprano” Rebecca Newman’s classical chart topping album Dare toDream and it’s an absolute belter. Although I have been aware of Rebecca for a year or so, mainly through twitter,(social media PR does work) this is the first time I have listened to her beautiful voice – and I’ve been missing out.
Having started her musical career aged 14 as Julie Jordan in Carousel at the Exmouth Pavilion, Rebecca then took holiday jobs to pay for singing lessons. The world of work beckoned and it wasn’t until she went to York to study Politics, Philosophy and Economics that she began treating singing as more than just a hobby. Weddings and busking supported her singing lessons and eventually led to the release of her first CD, Music Box in 2005. Cantare (2008), Memory (2009), O Holy Night (2010) and Fields of Gold (2011) followed. Live performances last year culminated in supporting Aled Jones on his Cathedral tour.
Dare to Dream is a collection of mainly operatic arias with a couple of original songs (co-written by Rebecca) as well. Of the two original songs, Heroes to the World is a classical sounding song with a pop like structure that could easily be something used in the sporting world whilst Dare to Dream is an inspiring song that sounds like it’s Rebecca’s personal motto. If it isn’t, it should be!
My favourite song on the album is also Alfie Boe’s favourite (he has tweeted his support for Rebecca several times), Casta Diva, from Bellini’s Norma. Known as one of the most difficult arias in a soprano’s repertoire, Rebecca’s soaring vocals gave me tingles down my spine as I listened.
Overall, the album has an excellent choice of songs to showcase Rebecca’s range although I did find my interest waning when it came to some of the songs that we are somewhat used to hearing from sopranos in recent years. Much better to hear Rebecca’s impressive voice wrapped around Micaela’s Aria, Rondine al Nido and Sull’Aria (duet with fellow soprano Mary Jess). When it came to La Boheme’s Mi Chimiano Mimi, I confess that my mind started wandering to the possibilities of a Rebecca / Alfie duet – to hear them sing O Soave Fanciulla would be wonderful but anything would do!