Classical crossover trio Blake have established themselves as a force to be reckoned with over the last 9 years.
Stephen Bowman, Ollie Baines and Humphrey Berney released their latest album A Classic Christmas last year and it featured a collaboration with Dame Shirley Bassey. The group will be performing with the singing icon during this weekend’s Henley Festival on Saturday.
We caught up with Stephen from the group to talk about working with Dame Shirley, find out what the plan is for Blake’s next album, and to talk about what else they have coming up.
Hi guys? Where does this Q&A find you today and how are you all?
We boys are currently in Ollie’s little music room, stood around the piano, hard at it in rehearsals ahead of our Henley Festival appearance; all very serious!
You’re performing at the Henley Festival in July with Dame Shirley Bassey as your special guest. What can you tease about the show?
We think the highlights of the show (aside from the incredible BBC Concert Orchestra, fireworks and 5000 people there!) will be the three duets that we’re singing with Dame Shirley, each very different from the next! They are big surprises!
Dame Shirley Bassey performs very rarely in the UK these days. How did you entice her out to be a special guest for your show?
We’ve performed live with Dame Shirley on about 5 occasions so far, but all of those were for big TV shows. It is rather special to have her as our guest for Henley, but in truth we know it’s the audience that tempted her, they’re very well heeled!
You worked with Dame Shirley Bassey for a song on your Christmas album last year. Could there be other collaborations with her in the future?
We don’t want to give too much away, as our 10 year anniversary album next year will feature a host of big vocal stars, but we will say it’s looking quite likely.
What are your plans for your next album? Have you started working on it yet and do you know what style you’ll be going for?
The next album is our 7th and will celebrate 10 years of Blake as a group. It’s going to be a collaboration album with many of the big names we’ve met over the last decade. Musically, think big, we’re bringing out the full orchestra and all the big guns this time, for some anthemic hits!
Which artists would you like to collaborate with on one of your future records and why?
We have a list of artists we love and respect as long as my arm, but at the top are names like Shirley Bassey, Cliff Richard, Elton John, Tom Jones, Elaine Paige, Lea Salonga and so many more; artists who have shaped the musical world we live in and stars who’ll be remembered for generations to come.
You have a solid fanbase across the globe. What’s your relationship like with your fans and what’s been your weirdest fan encounter to date?
We owe our entire career to our fans here in the UK and around the world. We’ve visited around 30 or so countries so far, performing on TV and live on stage, with each country having its own unique type of audience. Nearly all our supporters are delightfully down to earth, music focused and super friendly; though we have had a few random marriage proposals in our time (which we put down to people confusing us with IL DIVO!)
Outside of the band, do you have any interest in pursuing any solo projects musical or otherwise?
We all love having time to work on solo projects, I song write a lot and give vocal coaching, Humphrey created a beautiful CD of lullabies last year and Ollie organises music for people’s weddings, we like to keep busy outside the group too!
What would you say has been the highlight of your careers so far?
Headlining Henley Festival has to be up there with the greatest moments (this will actually be our second time at the festival), picking up our first Brit Award at the Albert Hall and singing to 300 million TV viewers in China on Chinese New Year. We’ve done so much over the last 10 years, it’s quite dizzying to pick moments out of it all.
What else do you have coming up before the end of the year?
This year is all about our UK theatre tour, entitled ‘Songs of Stage & Screen’ celebrating the big anthems from the worlds of film and musicals. We’re half way through it at the moment but it’s been our most popular show so far! We’re touring to Europe in Autumn, and on to Chicago and potentially the Philippines too, before returning to the UK for our festival Christmas show, the perfect way to signal in the end of the year. Right, we’d better get back to rehearsing!
Blake perform at the Henley Festival on Saturday 9th July 2016 with Dame Shirley Bassey.