The Voice is fight­ing fit again

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - LIFE & LEISIRE -

would come on.

“It could be de­mor­al­is­ing but the stars lined up well for me and I had some lucky breaks.”

Achiev­ing suc­cess, he says, was rel­a­tively easy com­pared to sus­tain­ing it.

His first record was a mas­sive hit in the UK and the US, top­ping the UK charts for 52 weeks. Then came the dif­fi­cult sec­ond al­bum and the pres­sure that brought.

But he went on to make nine al­bums al­to­gether and though he hasn’t re­leased one for a cou­ple of years, his 2015 tour sold so well that a fur­ther 28 dates have been added.

“I am so grate­ful. I love be­ing busy singing, it was what I was born to do and if I’m not per­form­ing I start to get itchy.”

Though he has per­formed in some of the world’s largest and best-known are­nas – in­clud­ing Wem­b­ley Sta­dium and the Royal Al­bert Hall – he says he is en­joy­ing the in­ti­macy of the smaller venues he is vis­it­ing dur­ing the cur­rent tour.

“I can re­ally get into au­di­ence’s psy­che.

“There’s a point where the mu­si­cal di­rec­tor goes from play­ing the pi­ano to the ac­cor­dion and I use that time to an­swer ques­tions from the au­di­ence. It’s not just about singing dots from a page, it’s draw­ing the au­di­ence in and mak­ing them feel part of the jour­ney.”

To suc­ceed in his ca­reer Rus­sell ad­mits he has had to be pushy. But any ego at his achieve­ments is off­set by an abil­ity to laugh at him­self. He tells a self-deprecating story about when he was in­ter­viewed on TV about singing at the Vat­i­can for Pope John Paul II.

“I told them I’d sung three arias for the plain­tiff, in­stead of the pon­tiff. That got a lot of laughs. I was try­ing to be too clever.”

The Wy­combe au­di­ence can ex­pect to see a con­fi­dent Rus­sell Wat­son back at the peak of his pow­ers.

“The only time I get ner­vous be­fore an ap­pear­ance is if my throat’s feel­ing a bit ragged or I’m get­ting a cold. If you’re singing a clas­si­cal reper­toire you’ve got nowhere to hide and when the au­di­ence is ex­pect­ing that big note in Nes­sun Dorma … but I feel as if I’m on a roll at the mo­ment.”

To book for Rus­sell’s per­for­mance call 01494 512000 or visit www. wycombeswan.co.uk.

LIS­TEN­ING to Rus­sell Wat­son sing Nes­sun Dorma has brought tears to the eyes of many, but it wasn’t just the beauty of his voice that had me sob­bing qui­etly in an ex­er­cise class a few years ago.

He had been very ill with a pi­tu­itary ade­noma, a be­nign but po­ten­tially very dam­ag­ing tu­mour in the brain, and there was con­jec­ture on what had be­come of him.

There was spec­u­la­tion that he’d lost the vo­cal power that had helped him be­come the UK’s best-selling clas­si­cal artist ever and led to him be­ing dubbed sim­ply ‘The Voice’.

But Rus­sell was very open about his con­di­tion and his even­tual re­cov­ery was widely doc­u­mented in the media.

The singer, who re­cently mar­ried his part­ner of five years in Spain, will per­form at Wy­combe Swan on Mon­day Novem­ber 9 dur­ing his cur­rent Up Close & Per­sonal tour.

“It’s taken the best part of eight years to get here but I’m feel­ing good now and in some re­spects I’ve de­fied the med­i­cal odds,” he said.

“I was told that I wouldn’t be able to func­tion the same way as I had be­fore. My pi­tu­itary gland was oblit­er­ated and the re­sult­ing hor­monal loss can cause mas­sive mood swings and be dif­fi­cult to con­trol but I’ve found my way.

“I’ve learnt to recog­nise the signs and to self-ad­min­is­ter the hor­mones that ev­ery­one else pro­duces nat­u­rally. If I feel flat or anti-so­cial I up the dose and I’m mon­i­tored regularly by my en­docri­nol­o­gist.

“Part of it is that I refuse to give up. I’ve had that since I was a child; when I was told I couldn’t do some­thing it just made me more de­ter­mined.”

It was a de­ter­mi­na­tion that helped him be­come the first clas­si­cal cross­over artist from a work­ing class back­ground; he was a fac­tory worker be­fore he be­came a star.

His ap­pren­tice­ship as a singer took place not in the stu­dio of a con­ser­va­toire but in the work­ing men’s clubs of the North West.

“I found my own niche but in the early stages there were many dark, rain-lashed nights trav­el­ling in my bat­tered Peu­geot 309 to Black­pool or Wi­gan. Peo­ple were not re­ally that in­ter­ested, they were more into Cor­rie. I’d go up and sing and then the Bingo

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