Alfie Boe

As fans of Alfie Boe will know, the end of this month brings Alfie’s birthday – 29 September to be precise.  Also, each year, Alfie donates his birthday to one of his charities and this year, Trinity Hospice and Brian House Children’s Hospice have been chosen to receive donations.

If you would like to wish Alfie a happy birthday and support Trinity, please click here to visit the thoughtsofjustafan Just Giving site.

In particular, Alfie wishes to support a team from Trinity who are beginning a nine day trek along the Great Wall of China.  Headed by fundraiser Janet, three nurses and around 18 local supporters will set off on 4th October – the Trinity staff are using their annual leave to do this!  Here is a photo of Janet with Alfie (and Rebecca from the press team at Trinity) before Alfie’s Fleetwood concert:

Alfie became patron of Trinity back in 2011 and ever since, fans have been raising money to support the hospice in a variety of ways.  Previous fundraisers have included virtual tea parties and the now annual Alfie Boe YouTube marathon which raised over £1200 this year alone.  Also in 2018, Alfie’s Homecoming Fleetwood concert raised enough money, from ticket sales and bucket collections, to run Brian House for a whole week.

However much or little you can donate helps the vital work the hospice does, so to wish Alfie a happy birthday please click here to support Trinity.

Thank you!

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The song at number nine in the 5th annual Best Ever Alfie Boe Song is one that last year came in at number two, having been in and out of the top ten several times before that.  The only representative from Storyteller for the second year running, it is Rank Strangers:

Alfie has performed this song many times over the years but never quite like this, at Joe’s Pub in 2013.  To me, the closest to the recorded song.

Rank Strangers was written by Albert Brumley, a musician and singer born in Oklahoma in 1905.  After studying at the Hartford Musical Institute, Arkansas,  Brumley toured with the Hartford Quartet and went on to write / copyright an astonishing 800 songs.  The most famous of these is I’ll Fly Away from 1932.  In 1970 he was inducted into the Country Song Writer’s Hall of Fame and his songs have been covered by amongst others, Bob Dylan, who I’m sure introduced Alfie to the song.  Here are the Stanley Brothers:

Storyteller is available here:

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This week, we’re looking at Sue Line’s Six Sensational Songs – this is what Sue says about how she found Alfie: ” I found Alfie through the 25th anniversary Les Mis concert. I heard this voice and was spell bound. The fact that he’s drop dead gorgeous helps! Through Alfie I met Greta and Graham and the three of us will always be thankful for that. We’re more like family than friends.”

Here are Sue’s choices:

Run, chosen by Sue because “it says so much that’s like my life. Also, it was during Run that Alfie came into the audience at Nottingham and  sought me out for a hug.”

Bring Him Home, because “Les Mis is my favourite music theatre and I found Alfie through that. It also reminds me of my Dad. Dad died whilst I was on a train to meet up with Greta and Graham for the first time, to go and see Les Mis. I cried my way through BHH. I’ve got a tattoo that says Alfie with BHH under his name.”

The Prayer because ” it’s a beautiful song and hearing Alfie sing it in Italian is wonderful.”

In My Daughter’s Eyes.  Sue says that this is a very personal choice as “I had a daughter who passed away as a baby but her eyes were beautiful and shone when she looked at me.”

Glory, Glory.  Sue chose this because “he sang it when I first saw him live in Newcastle and he kept making me laugh by just waving his wrist. My arm was in a cast and that was the only way I could wave at him.”

A Thousand Years.  Sue’s son sings it to her; “He has autism and many physical and psychological problems but has a beautiful baritone voice and always makes me cry when he sings it.”

Thank you Sue for sharing your stories with us.

If you would like to see your choices featured, please fill in the form:

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Last week saw the news that Alfie Boe’s new album, As Time Goes By (click here to order), will be released on 23 November and I’m sure there will be plenty of fans very much looking forward to hearing all the tracks.  Before then, however, we have the question that all fans are desperate to have answered:

What is the fans favourite Alfie Boe song 2018???

I’m happy to say that the vote is now closed, the votes have been counted and the results will be revealed over the next ten weeks, which will take us almost up to the week of the new album.  Anyone would think it was planned!

Without further ado, the song in at number ten is a song that featured in the first three charts but dropped out of the top ten last year.  From Onward, it’s A Living Prayer:

A Living Prayer shows off Alfie’s soaring vocals to perfection and is probably the reason why a song from one of Alfie’s lesser known albums has been eternally popular with fans, also being chosen several times as part of the Six Sensational Songs series.

A Living Prayer was written by bluegrass / country singer Alison Krauss and released on the Union Station album Lonely Runs Both Ways in 2004. The bluegrass roots are evident in this video of Krauss:

As evidenced from Alfie’s autobiography, he wasn’t too thrilled with the choice of songs for Onward, with the exception of A Living Prayer – hope he sings it again one day.

Onward is available here:

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Alfie Boe fans have been waiting not so patiently since he announced he was recording a new solo album earlier this year – his first for four years.  Titled As Time Goes By, the album is currently scheduled for release on 23 November 2018.

Track list:

La Vie En Rose
Moonlight Serenade
Sing Sing Sing
Stompin at the Savoy feat. Kara Tointon
A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square feat. Brennyn Lark
The Way You Look Tonight
Minnie The Moocher feat. Kelsey Grammar
As Time Goes By
My Funny Valentine
Ain’t Misbehavin’
Mood Indigo
I Don’t Stand a Ghost of a Chance

As we know, Alfie recorded this album at Capitol Studios, Los Angeles, here Frank Sinatra made so many of his vintage albums.  Alfie had a specific sound in mind for his new album: “I kept saying to the players in the studio, ‘Please don’t play clean, please make it dirty. You had Louis Armstrong blasting out songs, Gene Krupa hammering on the skins. Cab Calloway was as wild a performer as you could possibly get. There were all these musicians who know how to play with emotion. What we’re also trying to do is to show how it all came together and how it influenced the music scene in the UK. You could say it was like a revolution.”

The record boasts a full band, led by Grammy award winner Gordon Goodwin and his Big Phat Band. It journeys through the defining songs of the era – from the full force of Sing Sing Sing – a song strongly identified with big band and swing, through to slower, smoother numbers such as The Way You Look Tonight (I’m still not over this song on Britain’s Got Talent) and As Time Goes By.  The trend for singers to feature duets on albums (Alfie guests on Bryn Terfel’s new album) continues here – I’m most looking forward to hearing Kelsey Grammer on Minnie the Moocher.

All Alfie’s albums have some personal significance, that one song inspired by Sarah or his children, but it seems that this whole album is a nod to his parents love of big band music.  Alfie says “They were really into the big bands – Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Count Basie, I remember a story my mother told me. When she was pregnant with me she was watching a TV show and Gene Krupa came on and started the drum solo from Sing Sing Sing. She had a cup of tea on her tummy, and immediately she felt me kick and the tea went up in the air. She always told this story and it made me realise I was connected with music even before I was born.”  Those who have read Alfie’s auobiography will remember this story!

As Time Goes By is available now for pre-order.  Click here.

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Fans of both ITV’s The Voice and Alfie Boe were thrilled when they found out that one of the finalists from this year’s series, Belle Voci, were confirmed to support Alfie at his Scarborough show in June.  With just a couple of days notice, Emily Burnett and Sophie Rohan, who form the operatic duo, were just as thrilled, if not more so, to be supporting one of their musical inspirations.  They were even more delighted when Alfie popped into their dressing room on the day of the show and asked if they would share the stage with him on a couple of songs.  Here they are on You’re The Voice, appropriately enough:

I spoke to Emily recently and asked how Belle Voci got the opportunity to sing with Alfie.  It turns out that it’s all down to Jennifer Hudson turning for them on The Voice.  Deciding to audition for the show as a way to get footage for their website, neither Emily or Sophie expected anyone’s chair to turn and were “absolutely amazed.  It’s opened so many doors for us, we would never have sung with Alfie without it.”

As a result of getting to the final three, Emily and Sophie were signed by an agent and thus found themselves performing with one of their musical idols.  They say never meet your idols, but Emily was relieved to find that Alfie was “such a nice guy, loved working with him.”

Emily and Sophie met and formed Belle Voci a few years ago when they were both working in a pub (chef and waitress).  Both trained as singers, at Durham University / Royal College of Music and London School of Musical Theatre respectively and were looking for a way to forge a career in music.  Opera evenings, weddings and corporate events followed before the chance to do The Voice came along.  Just prior to appearing on the show, the duo decided to record and release their eponymous first album, showcasing seven operatic arias and Over The Rainbow, using the arrangement by Roderick Williams.  As the album concentrates on opera, I wanted to know why Rainbow was included – it turns out that it’s just because Emily and Sophie love to sing it.  Emily then said that “we hope that someone might like Over the Rainbow and then discover some of the other, operatic tracks and like them as well…it’s almost like drip feeding opera, introducing people to it who might not have had much before.”  Sounds remarkably similar to something Alfie would say – “there’s only two types of music: good and bad.”

I earlier mentioned that Alfie is one of Belle Voci’s musical inspirations, one reason being that they are “inspired by the musical choices he makes…we want to be like him, he’s so bang on trend with everything.” Emily and Sophie were at the Classic BRITs this year and thought it was awesome that Alfie and Michael won two awards.   Il Divo also gain a mention for their harmonies, as well as Katherine Jenkins (“she’s built an insane career for herself”), Laura Wright and Beyonce -Emily “loves her sass!”

Belle Voci’s album is available here:

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After the nominations closed for the 5th annual Best Ever Alfie Boe song (recorded) last week, I’m pleased to say that the poll is now open for votes once more!

Thanks to those who sent in their nominations – we have five new additions this year!

Bridge Over Troubled Water – nominated by Brenda Licence

You’re The Voice – Gill Jansingh

You’ll Be Back – Pauline Merrick

A Thousand Years – Karen Blower

He Lives In You – Ann Quelch

I originally started this poll to highlight the depth of Alfie’s repertoire and we have songs from all his albums to date, so we have more than accomplished this.  Whenever I talk about Alfie to non fans (yes, there are such people!), the song they always mention is Bring Him Home, twice the winner of this poll.  While it is the song for which he is always known, wouldn’t it be great for something new to top this year’s vote?

Voting will remain open until the end of this week and then the first song of the top ten will be revealed the week after – get voting!

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Alfie Boe’s Summer concerts are over and as we head into Autumn, fans are keen to know when they can next see Alfie perform live.  The wait is over, at least for fans who can get to the Isle of Man as Alfie is today announcing a show at the Villa Marina, Isle of Man.

The show is on 6 November and will feature Lauren Samuels as a guest artist; those fans who were at Kenwood House will remember Lauren was one of the support artists on that day.

Tickets will go on sale at 10am on Friday 31 August – click here.

Alfie has performed a couple of times before on the Isle of Man, on the first leg of his Bring Him Home tour and again at a fundraiser for the island’s hospice in 2014, so he obviously likes it there!

Alfie is currently preparing for the release of his new album so I expect many of the songs from that will feature – let me know if you end up going!

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In 2017, Alfie Boe and Michael Ball recorded a charity single in aid of children’s charity, Rays of Sunshine.  appropriately enough, the song was Bring Me Sunshine:

Having sung at the charity’s annual fund raising dinner, the pair then decided to record the song they sang that evening.  The Rays of Sunshine children’s choir were also featured and then made a simply unforgettable appearance on stage with Alfie and Michael in London.  Following all this, Alfie then came on board as an ambassador for the charity – I spoke to Sarah May Kershaw from the fundraising team to learn more about what they do.

Rays of Sunshine was founded in 2003 to brighten the lives of seriously ill children and those with life limiting conditions and the work they do mainly consists of granting magical wishes.  Every day, the charity gives these children and young people, aged three to eighteen, the chance to put their illness on hold and enjoy a moment of escape. Wishes can be as unique as the children themselves and whether a child wants to be a princess or a fireman for the day, go to Disneyland in Paris, visit Santa in Lapland, own an iPad, meet a favourite celebrity or even a ‘real life’ mermaid, Rays of Sunshine works hard to make that wish come true.  Hospital wards can also benefit from magical wishes and have included decorating treatment rooms, purchasing equipment, funding sensory room and funding an indoor sensory garden.  Another hospital centred activity are hospital activity days; every week of the year the team bring sunshine to children on the wards of hospitals across the country through entertainment such as Bollywood dancers and imaginative arts and crafts. These events provide distraction and reduce isolation for children receiving long term treatment in hospital.

I asked Sarah about the impact and importance of celebrity ambassadors and she said that having them is “invaluable in terms of awareness and fundraising…since Alfie and Michael, we’ve been able to reach a new audience who weren’t aware of us before.”  This awareness was evident when the children’s choir were invited to perform with Alfie at Kenwood House, London this summer.  Rays of Sunshine staff were in attendance with charity buckets and ,had also benefited from ticket sales to their patrons.  Altogether, including merchandise sales, £7,000 was raised that evening, enough to fund hospital ward wishes for seven hospitals to decorate treatment rooms or provide sensory equipment.  Alternatively, the money could also pay for three seriously ill children and their families to enjoy a UK break together as a family, enable fourteen seriously ill children and their families to have their wish granted to come to London for a day, pay for two seriously ill children and their families to go to Disneyland Paris or fund a seriously ill child to travel to Florida or Lapland with their family.

That’s a wonderful amount of money and the charity are so grateful and say that it exceeded all their expectations.  However, apart from the money, the whole event was like a magical wish for the choir, proving life long memories for them and their families.  They were included in the soundcheck with Alfie and the whole evening, as well as that at the 02 in December 2017, meant they could have a once in a life time, money can’t buy experience.

For more information on Rays of Sunshine, click here – and keep a look out for a fan fundraiser later in the year.

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Ball and Boe were back together this weekend at Carfest South, first time for Michael but a return for Alfie – he last played this festival for Children in Need in 2013.  Regular reviewer Claire Shorter was there for us, as well as fellow fan Caroline Old:

Do you think they will like us? That is the question Michael asked Chris Evans before they went on stage……fast forward to the end of their set and the rapturous applause and cheers suggests the crowd didn’t just like the boys, they absolutely loved them. This was echoed by the number of backstage guests who flowed to the front of the stage (including Chris Evans).

Michael and Alfie’s set was after Reef and Miles Kane and before Razorlight and although their style is different to those bands, the audience was just about to find out Ball and Boe can turn their hands to any genre they choose and the set list at CarFest showed their diversity, talent, humour and all round awesomeness.

Michael and Alfie came out singing Tonight, they were beaming and appeared so happy to be back on stage together. Then it was For Once in My Life and You’ll Be Back; the way they interact during these songs is nothing but cute and Alfie also came down to the barriers for a singalong with the crowd. Next were great songs to get the audience involved – He Lives in You and You’re the Voice. For the last chorus Alfie got Chris Evans and some others on to the stage to join in and they were loving every minute.

When the Queen medley commenced, we were treated to A Kind of Magic, Radio Gaga, We Will, We Will Rock You and We are the Champions. They put so much energy into this medley and the audience were loving it as much as Ball and Boe were, on stage.  This was a high point for seven year old Dan (Caroline’s son) who said that “I loved We Will Rock You, I was on Daddy’s shoulders.”

We then heard the boys do their brilliant Les Mis medley: Bring Him Home, Empty Chairs, I Dreamed a Dream and One Day More.  We have never heard an audience sing along to Les Mis as much as they did that day and standing in a field it felt like an appropriate place to do it. The whole audience singing One Day More was incredible, a proper goosebumps moment.

Then it was time for the encore, Michael making sure Alfie had left the stage made a start with A Different Corner.  Alfie then appeared on the adjoining stage saying “Oi Bally, get off the stage…”, he then stripped down to his ‘Choose Life’ T-shirt, gave Michael his and then the party time started with a Wham medley including Freedom, I’m Your Man and Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go.   Chris Evans and a group backstage crew, family and friends returned to the stage having a great sing along and pulling out some cracking dance moves. Alfie was having a high kick contest with a couple of kids. It was great fun to watch them all having a blast.

Although we also love the boys performing solo this is a reminder that we need another combined tour, they are a perfect match and their talent, friendship and humour is a beautiful thing to witness. They love being on stage together and we love seeing them there.

Thanks for a fabulous review Claire, Caroline and Dan, who gets the last word: “It was so funny when Alfie told Michael to get off the stage!”

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