Katherine Jenkins

All posts tagged Katherine Jenkins

Those of you who do Facebook might be aware that after the press night of Carousel, I decided to do a spontaneous Facebook live video to tell you all about it.  It went well and you all seemed to like it and so I wanted to share it with those of my readers who don’t do Facebook:

Bear in mind that this was a live video so I was able to respond to viewers as the comments were coming in – and if you like comedy cats as well as Alfie Boe, this might well be the video for you!  Click here for the written review of Carousel.

This is my first foray into the world of vlogging and I’d love your feedback – leave me a comment with your thoughts and I’d also love to know if there’s any other vloggers that you watch.

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I’ve got a confession – I have never before last night seen either the film or a production of Carousel, although I had a fair idea of the synopsis and some of the staging in the current production at ENO, not to mention most of the songs. This lack of prior knowledge meant that I came to Carousel almost entirely free of preconceptions about the show.  Having said that, prior knowledge would have prepared me for the huge amount of dialogue in the show – modern musicals tend to have very little spoken word in them and I’d forgotten that older shows don’t just rely on the music to carry the show.  Indeed, it is the dialogue that is integral to the storyline here.

The role of Billy Bigelow is Alfie Boe’s third musical theatre role in short succession (but his first in a newly opened show, albeit in a short, five week run) and his first appearance at ENO for over six years.  Alfie is on stage for most of the show and copes effortlessly with the physicality of the role, particularly in the soliloquy, which involves singing whilst using the whole of the stage, ladders included.  As you might expect, Alfie’s glorious tenor voice is a delight; soaring vocals when necessary, tender and soft when the music requires, yet blending in perfectly on the ensemble numbers.  Alfie has recorded If I Loved You and if I’m honest, I’ve never really liked his version because I felt that despite the beautiful vocals, there was no emotion behind the words.  It is a totally different experience to hear Alfie sing the song in this production – the emotion, especially in the second act reprise, bursts out.  You are left in no doubt as to how Billy feels and that is down to the acting.

As mentioned earlier, Carousel is Alfie’s third musical theatre show in a short time but since both of those were on Broadway, this was my first opportunity to see Alfie in an acting role on stage.  I wasn’t disappointed.  The vocal demands are all in the first act and I felt Alfie relaxed into the role more as the show went on.  However, the characterisation of Billy was always totally believable and although there were moments when Alfie seemed almost awkward, I felt that was part of the character; Billy, as we understand from the opening dream sequence, is an awkward character who has not had the easiest start in life and it would be wrong, in my view, to have him portrayed as someone who is happy in own skin.  Anger is an emotion that is never far from Billy, always bubbling under the surface and Alfie plays this to perfection – he’s on a knife edge the whole time which lends an air of unpredictability that is central to both the character and the storyline.

Billy’s relationship with Julie Jordan is the the plot driver in Carousel and the role of Julie carries high expectations.  Katherine Jenkins makes her stage debut here and honestly, you wouldn’t know it. At no time did I feel I was watching an actress who had never performed in a stage musical before. In Katherine’s hands you felt that there was no other way for Julie to behave – of course she would run off with an unemployed carousel barker and inexorably start down the road of unhappiness.   The difficult relationship between the two lead roles is fully explored, with Billy going from the confident barker to an angry husband who resorts to domestic violence and Julie doing her best to save and reform him.  The violence is not shown on stage but much more powerfully, it is the constant belittling of Julie by Billy that remains with the audience and you understand just what compels women in Julie’s position to stay in such relationships.  Integral to this sensitive portrayal was the cracking chemistry between Alfie and Katherine which made the relationship believable.  Both were outstanding.

In addition, the whole cast and ENO chorus were sublime, with Alex Young as Carrie and Brenda Edwards as Nettie being in especially fine form.  Nicholas Lyndhurst’s role is tiny but pivotal to the plot and he displays his mastery of comic timing (Alfie also uses his natural gift for comic timing throughout) to devastating effect.  However, the laughter that greeted Lyndhurst perched on a ladder has possibly nothing to do with Carousel and everything to do with his previous incarnation as Rodney.  Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote some wonderful tunes for this show and the ENO orchestra make the most of them, beautifully conducted by David Charles Abell (yes from the 25th Les Mis concert).

Carousel is a show that I think will stay with me for a long time and not just because Alfie Boe stars.  Both he and Katherine Jenkins were outstanding but it is the overall story of redemption that sticks with you.   Does redemption mean that our earlier deeds are forgiven?  Perhaps yes, but not forgotten.  During the finale, having achieved his aim, there is nothing left for Billy but to disappear from the scene and it is entirely fitting that we are left with the happy ensemble.

Carousel is on at the London Coliseum until May 13 – tickets are available here and I urge you to go – you won’t regret it.

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Actually, that’s not quite right!  Back in December, just after the end of the Together tour, Alfie recorded vocals for an as then unnamed project.  Today, we learnt that those vocals were for a new album by Dame Vera Lynn, which is where the misnomer of the headline comes in:  although the song is a duet of We’ll Meet Again, Alfie did not record with Dame Vera as her vocals are a reworking of some of her most famous songs.

Vera Lynn 100 is being released to celebrate the 100th birthday of the former ‘forces sweetheart’, making her the first centenarian to release an album.  This album is now available to pre-order here:

Wouldn’t it be awesome if Dame Vera became the first centenarian with a number one album?  It’s not unheard of – her last album hit the top spot!

Alfie has of course sung We’ll Meet Again with another ‘forces sweetheart’, Katherine Jenkins at the VE day celebration concert in 2015:

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What exciting news to wake up to this morning – Alfie Boe is to return to London’s ENO for a limited season of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, Carousel.  In the semi staged show, Alfie will play Billy Bigelow opposite Katherine Jenkins’ Julie Jordan, a casting that reunites them immediately after their one off Dubai Opera appearance on March 30th.  The pair have worked together many times previously, including a sublime duet of Barcelona on Katherine’s album, Home Sweet Home.

Carousel is full of iconic songs and Alfie has sung two of them before: You’ll Never Walk Alone is the encore song for the current Together tour as well as featuring on the top ten album of the same name and If I Loved You appears on Bring Him Home:

Carousel is the latest in a line of ENO semi staged musicals to grace the London Coliseum, with Sweeney Todd and Sunset Boulevard gaining rave reviews and sell out audiences (Lonny Price who directed both shows will also direct Carousel).  You’ll notice that I haven’t included the ill-fated Kismet – the less said the better!  Jenkins will make her stage debut in this production of Carousel and that, coupled with Alfie’s legions of fans is bound to mean that the show will be amongst the most sought after in 2017.

Alfie last appeared at the London Coliseum with ENO in Jonathan Miller’s production of The Mikado back in 2011 and since then his career has taken him in a different direction although he has of course played the lead in two Broadway musical productions in the last year.  Will this announcement mean Alfie will take on more roles like this?  I can’t wait to find out!

Alfie and Katherine’s Barcelona is available here:

katherine jenkins

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Following on from last week’s installment of Alfie Boe’s Best Live Song poll 2016, we have now arrived at the half way stage, with two songs that tied for second place in 2014.

Number six in the countdown is a song that hasn’t appeared in Alfie’s set list since the Bring Him Home tour and is quite tricky to find on YouTube (although it does feature on the Alfie: Live DVD) but luckily, we have Nikki Lewis to thank for recording Jacob’s Ladder in Birmingham, 2011:

Jacob’s Ladder is a spiritual, gospel tinged song that has been recorded by a variety of artists including Bruce Springsteen and Paul Robeson – click here to see these two completely different versions of the song.

As mentioned earlier, the song that was voted in at number five is the song that tied with Jacob’s Ladder for second spot last time and of course it’s Barcelona with Laura Wright:

Laura and Alfie’s voices work so well together and the audience here clearly thought so too.  Laura tweeted a photo the next day accompanied by “giving it some welly on the high notes last night” – well, there’s plenty of high notes Laura! Although this is the only footage we have of Alfie and Laura singing this together, Alfie did appear as a guest on Katherine Jenkins’s Home Sweet Home album singing Barcelona.

Barcelona was originally written by Freddie Mercury and Mike Moran and recorded by Mercury and the Spanish soprano, Montserrat Caballe in 1987.  Memorably, it featured heavily during coverage of the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.  Here is the original:

As we know, Alfie is a keen Queen and Freddie Mercury fan and during his ITV Perspectives programme on Mercury, he was seen backstage before the Barcelona song saying it was “quite a big sing”.  I also seem to remember he was messing about with his hair quite a lot as well!

Alfie: Live DVD and Home Sweet Home are available here:

Alfie BHH DBD

katherine jenkins katherine jenkins

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…at the Memorial Day Concert, Washington DC.  Well known for supporting the armed forces in the UK, it was only a matter of time before he was invited to do the same in his adopted homeland.  He sang, of course, Bring Him Home:

Thanks to Claire for sharing the video.

Memorably, Alfie also got on well with Colin Powell – the two of them were side by side during the finale and seemed to be doing their own thing most of the time!

Katherine Jenkins also appeared that year (her second appearance) and she is back again this year so hopefully, Alfie will be asked back in years to come.

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Saturday May 9 saw the 70th anniversary of VE Day celebrated in style with A Party to Remember at Horseguards Parade.  Unsure of what to expect in terms of the songs Alfie would sing, fans were ecstatic that Alfie had two solo songs and a duet with Katherine Jenkins to end the night – the social media frenzy that followed made it clear that Alfie now has a lot of new fans.

The concert itself was a rip roaring success showcasing the music of the era by performers as diverse as Laura Wright, Elaine Paige, Pixie Lott, Collabro, Rebecca Ferguson and Chas and Dave, although hearing Alexander Armstrong’s great voice was the surprise of the night for some.  The music and dance was interspersed throughout with readings from the time by some of our best known actors including Robert Lindsay, Jane Horrocks, Martin Shaw, Lawrence Fox, Bernard Cribbins and Honeysuckle Weeks which really brought home the reason for our celebrations and commemorations. Alfie’s favourite comedy, Dad’s Army also got an honourable mention with a reading from Pike himself, Ian Lavender.  Another nice touch was video interviews with service men and women there at the time – most of these were also in the audience.

Alfie first sang the anthemic You’ll Never Walk Alone, a song featured on his album Onward and one that he performs very infrequently.  Although the song was enthusiastically received on twitter, it’s pretty fair to say that at least half of the comments generated were concerned with his haircut and specs.  Alex Jones, host of BBC One’s The One Show tweeted her appreciation!  Alfie then returned a short time later to sing Snow Patrol’s Run – a completely new song for him that nevertheless suited both him and the occasion perfectly.  This was the moment that sent twitter into meltdown – mostly positive comments generated by all those new fans.  I must just add that he was accompanied on this one by Murray Gould who was instantly recognisable by his silhouette when he walked on stage (it’s the hair!). Lastly, accompanied by the crowd and the rest of the performers, Alfie and Katherine Jenkins (a former forces sweetheart) sang We’ll Meet Again to end the evening.  Absolutely spellbinding (thanks Marcia for uploading a compilation video):

Altogether, a fabulous performance all around  – bravo to all involved.

Onward is available here:

Alfie onward

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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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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:

serenata

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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:

serenata

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