The Voice is fighting fit again
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