RUSSELL WATSON BIOGRAPHY
Update for Russell's Biography
Over the last 18 months + Russell has taken on 2 extensive concert tours.
His Up Close and Personal in 2015 and Songs From The Heart 2016 tour saw him travel the length and breadth
of the UK performing at more than 150 packed and sold out venues.
Now in the latter part of 2016 Russell is releasing his latest CD 'True Stories' this comprises of his familiar mix of Classical and pop songs.
The album has been produced by legendary producer Bob Rose (Roy Orbison, George Harrison) and was recorded
at Ennio Morricone's Forum Music Village Studios in Rome with the 75 piece Orchestra Italiana Del Cinema (the orchestra Morricone uses for all of his movie scores)
'True Stories' features songs including Sometimes Love Just Ain't Enough(his new single) La fleur que tu m'avais jetée, If I Loved You from Carousel, M'appari , Who Can I Turn To (from The Roar of the Greasepaint), the Mario Lanza number With A Song In My Heart, the Richard Marx tune Now and Forever alsoI'm Alive and When It Shines,both these songs written by Russell
This is from Russell's Official website
Russell Watson never imagined he would someday be hailed as one of the world’s greatest classical singers. Since being described by the New York Times as a performer “who sings like Pavarotti and entertains the audience like Sinatra” he subsequently released ten studio albums, each one receiving more critical acclaim than the last. His debut album ‘The Voice’ shot up the UK charts where he held the number one spot for a world record 52 weeks. At the same time, Russell held the number one spot in the USA, making him the first British male to hold the accolade of a simultaneous transatlantic number one. His second studio album ‘Encore’ soon followed, it became an even greater success selling almost two million copies worldwide. During this period Russell was rewarded with various awards including four Classical Brits.
His amazing road to success was not a stereotypical one. Russell left school at the age of sixteen with no qualifications and spent the first eight years of his working life in a factory making nuts and bolts. His desire to escape the monotony of the shop floor led him to enter a local radio talent competition where he beat four hundred other contestants. This was the precursor to a career that has spanned fifteen years and seen him perform for some of the world’s greatest figures. These include; The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh (he is an ambassador for the Dukes Fellowship Charity), Prince Charles (he is an ambassador of the Prince’s Trust), the late Pope John Paul II who requested a private audience with Russell at the Vatican, former US presidents Bill Clinton and George W Bush, the Emperor of Japan, various European Prime Ministers, the King of Malaysia and Middle Eastern Sultans.
He has sung at many prestigious events and to quote respected sporting journalist, Paul Hince, present at one performance where, Russell sang “Nessun Dorma”: “You know when you have witnessed something special when even the cynical hacks in the press box rise to their feet and join the ovation. I swear, even the pigeons on the roof of the stands flapped their wings”.
This triggered a series of sports-related performances. He was invited to perform so often that one journalist was quoted as saying “there is only one person to have appeared more times at Wembley this year than David Beckham, and that is Russell Watson!”
Among other appearances was a performance at the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth games in 2002 where he sang to a world wide audience of one billion, at Buckingham Palace for the Queen’s Coronation Gala Festival 2013, the opening ceremony of the World Games, the Rugby Union World Cup and at the Nou Camp Stadium for the 1999 Champion’s League Final with Montserrat Caballé.
Other collaborations include Meatloaf, Lionel Richie, Paul McCartney, Lulu, Alexandra Burke, Sean Ryder and the late great Luciano Pavarotti.
His performances in stage shows have also earned him great critical acclaim, he played Parson Nathaniel in Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds tour and played the lead role of Karl Oscar in Benny and Björn’s (ABBA) Kristina where the New York Times said “Watson’s ‘Puccini’ ready voice was crystal clear”. His recent collaboration with Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg meant he fulfilled a lifetime ambition to work along side the writers of the world’s most successful musical ever, Les Miserables, where Boublil and Schonberg crafted a body of poignancy and class to his new album.
Russell is a patron for many charities and has raised millions of pounds for; The Prince’s Trust, the Katy Holmes Trust, The Kirsty Club, along with performing to raise awareness and funds for the likes of Soccer Aid 2010, remembrance for the 4th Mechanized Brigade at York Minster (2010), the “Legends Match” at Celtic Park for Oxfam (2011) and the Bob Champion Cancer Trust in 2012 raising to name just a few.
On top of all this and unbeknown to most, Russell is the voice behind the iconic Star Trek series Enterprise soundtrack,
demonstrating the versatility of his gift once again.
From Russell's Official Site
Russell Watson sits forward in his chair and smiles. "The thing that I most wanted to achieve has happened. The voice is back. And not only that, but the infrastructure that generates the noise I make, the strength and stamina I need to perform all that incredible material is back." He relaxes, his message delivered. "It's been a long road and it's been hard work, but we're there…"
The last three years have changed Russell Watson forever. Changed who he is and the way he sings and how he feels about everything. Most people who've had a life-threatening experience will feel the same, and after a while, when the immediate pressure of their illness begins to dissipate, they may slip back into their old ways and their old lives. But not Watson. He has faced down one career-threatening illness and two life-threatening illnesses in the last five years. "That was particularly hard to come to terms with, psychologically," he says. "The second one affected me so badly."
By the end of 2007 Watson felt "devastated". Just when he thought he was getting his life back the discovery and removal of one pituitary tumor he found out he had another one. All his confidence and strength had gone and a lot of what he does relies on knowing those big notes are coming. As a singer in his league, and there aren't many, if your confidence gets rattled you lose everything.
"When I had the first tumor I only focused on the operation," he says. "When I had the second one it was about getting out of intensive care. Then getting out of the bed. Each time there was a different focal point."
When Watson finished his radiotherapy at the beginning of 2008 he decided to start his return. He had put on nearly three stone from the intense course of medication he was being treated with. The day the treatment finished he stared at himself in his full-length hallway mirror and said, "Right Watson, it's time to get back to work…" The very next day he went to the gym - much to everyone else's dismay.
"That's the kind of idiot I am," he says now. "Most people would rest. I looked terrible too..."
Six months of three-times-a-week visits to the gym followed before he was ready to sing again. Finally, in August 2008, Watson went to visit his voice coach, Patrick McGuigan. They began by running through scales. Suddenly McGuigan stopped Watson and said, "Oh my god! What has happened to your voice?"
"I expected something negative," Watson says. "But he thought it was fantastic, with all this new depth and power. The tumor could have been growing for 10-15 years in my nasal cavity, so when I had it cut out I went from a V8 to a V12! All those experiences have affected the way I view my life, the way I view others and the way I conduct myself."
Those changes are all over Watson's new album, La Voce, which was recorded in Rome this June with the Roma Sinfonietta, Ennio Morricone's orchestra of choice. Watson's voice, as heard on Pino Donaggio's Io Che Non Vivo (Senza Te), Mario Lanza's Arrivederci Roma or Parla Piu Piano (the theme from The Godfather) has never sounded better, stronger, more driven and powerful.
"I've truly given my heart and soul to this record," he says. "It feels quite poignant - this is where I started. With everything that's happened I've had a lot of time to focus on the record and make the one I really wanted to make. The performances are as good as they can possibly be at this stage of my career."
Indeed, Watson says La Voce is the product of his life to date, the defining record of his life so far.
"I believe that I have come through all this for a reason and that reason is now," he says. "There are great times to come, but this is what it's all about for me now. This is the first record that I've made which has true continuity, La Voce is a very clear-sighted piece."
Russell Watson never imagined he'd someday be the world's greatest tenor. Born in Salford, he'd have preferred to make it playing football, the trouble was, however much he played, he never got any better. Watson's says his father is "so laid back he's lying down and I love that about him", but that's not the sort of person he is. Watson hated losing, hated that he was no good at the thing he loved. So he found something else to be the best at.
His mum would play Mario Lanza and Tchaikovsky, Mantovani, Chopin, Schubert, even The James Last Orchestra in the house. Her own father was a concert-level pianist, "[my grandfather] was amazing," Watson says. "I'd sit on his lap and listen to him for hours..."
Aged seven Watson learnt to play the piano, and he was good, but he didn't like it, never had a flair for it. "There was no joy there," he says. "But when I started singing there was real joy. I started playing guitar as a teenager and started singing along with the Beatles and Jam records I loved."
Watson formed a band called The Crowd ("we were not very good") and his band mates would tell him he sounded just like McCartney or Weller.
"I'm a natural mimic," he says. "I still do it now. I can do my A&R man, my manager and I can always do other singers. An old compere at this club in Stockport used to joke, 'Russell Watson, 1001 voices - all of them crap'..."
Those old clubs were extremely hard work. People were more interested in talking about what was on Coronation St than what any singer was doing. The factory work Watson did for £90 a week was "mind-numbing" so singing became his escape.
"I've walked out on stage in some of the biggest venues in the world," he says. "The Vatican, Sydney Opera House, Carnegie Hall, Old Trafford! - but nothing is as daunting as a Friday night at a serious working men's club. If I ever start to feel sorry for myself I go back and remember where I've been, singing through a fog of Woodbine smoke..."
One night, a concert secretary appeared out of the fog in front of Watson. He had grey hair with a yellow streak and yellow, tar-stained fingers. Watson had just sung The Music of The Night.
"He just looked at me and said, 'You have a smashing voice, have you ever tried any of that Pavarooty stuff?'..." Watson, determined as ever, went off and learnt Nessun Dorma phonetically and when he first sang it live he got a standing ovation. That was the beginning of a whole new life. A few short years later - in May 1999 - that standing ovation was at Old Trafford just before Manchester United won the Premiership. Since then Watson has sung for American presidents, Japanese emperors, British Royalty, an array of European Prime Ministers, Middle-Eastern Sultans, even the late Pope John Paul II who requested a private audience with Watson at the Vatican.
There have been eight albums, each one winning more praise than the one before. His first, The Voice, went to No. 1 in the US and the UK and won two Classical Brit awards. Encore was No. 1 in the UK classical charts for 30 weeks and Watson won another two Classical Brit Awards. Every Russell Watson UK release has gone Top 10 in the UK and among them he boasts two
"My best friend, The Colonel, listened to it and he said, 'They're all bloody good tunes, lad!' and that's it, La Voce has only great tracks on it. I've learnt more in the last ten years about music, life, performance and singing than you could ever learn at any music college. There's no one on the planet that I worry about being stood in front of. No one is as genuinely impassioned about this music as I am now."
Watson knows you don't step off a factory onto a stage with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra without having something beyond talent. You need drive and desire, a need to make your mark, to make your voice heard.
"I'm a stubborn bastard," he laughs. "My music is about making a connection. Put me in front of 90,000 in a football stadium and I feel all their energy. It's what I live for, that and my kids. There's nothing bigger than that feeling.
Russell Watson Biography
The story of Russell Watson is inspirational. It depicts the meteoric rise of a humble factory worker from Salford who was catapulted into international singing stardom. He has sold millions of records worldwide and has performed for some of the most influential people of our time including the King of Malaysia, The President of the United States, the Emperor of Japan, our very own Prime Minister Tony Blair, Prime Minister of Germany, various powerful Sultans, The Beckham’s and even the late Pope John Paul II who requested a private audience with Russell at the Vatican in Rome. After staging a recent concert at Windsor Castle in the presence of Prince Charles and Camilla Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Charles requested Russell’s services as an ambassador for his coveted charity The Princes Trust. Keeping it in the ‘Royal’ family, Russell has been invited to numerous functions hosted by Queen Elizabeth II including a recent visit to Buckingham Palace.
This success did not happen overnight. As the son of a factory worker, Russell found himself following in his father’s footsteps working 12 hour nightshifts in a nuts and bolts factory to earn his living. It was only when he entered a local radio talent competition, beating 400 other hopefuls, Russell decided to throw down the proverbial oily rag and pursue his passion, music! Russell spent the next few years completing his musical apprenticeship in the North West working men’s clubs.
Russell’s big break came in May 1999 when he was invited to Old Trafford to sing before Manchester United’s Premiership-winning match. His performance of the World Cup anthem “Nessun Dorma” received a standing ovation. To quote respected sporting journalist, Paul Hince, present at the game: “You know when you have just witnessed something special when even the cynical hacks in the press box rise to their feet and join in the ovation. I swear, even the pigeons on the roof of the stands flapped their wings”. Inevitably this triggered a series of sports-related performances. He was invited to perform so often that one journalist was quoted as saying “there is only one person to have appeared more times at Wembley this year than David Beckham, and that is Russell Watson!”.
The sports theme has stayed with Russell and in 2002 he was invited to perform at the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games in front of a worldwide television audience of 1 billion people.
Russell was signed by The Decca Music Group to a five-album deal and in September 2000, his debut recording The Voice was released to huge critical and public acclaim. This mix of repertoire along with Russell’s majestic vocal performance delivered an immediate impact.
By October, it had climbed to No.5 in the UK pop charts and broke worldwide records by holding the No.1 position in the classical chart for a year, only to be knocked off by his follow up release, Encore. It broke further records by quickly reaching the No. 1 spot in the US, making Watson the first British male to simultaneously occupy the top of both the UK and the American charts. This multi million-seller went on to win two Classical Brit awards for Best Classical Album (voted for by the British public) and Best Classical Debut album.
Encore followed Russell’s innovative trademark mixture of popular Italian arias with pop classics (including songs recorded for the Hollywood blockbuster Captain Corelli’s Mandolin and the theme tune to the Star Trek TV series Enterprise). It went multi Platinum in the UK (where it was at No. 1 in the classical charts for 30 weeks), multi platinum in New Zealand, Ireland and Gold in numerous territories around the world. Russell won a further two Classical Brit Awards for Best Classical Album and Male Artist of the Year.
Watson’s third album Reprise, released in 2002, went Platinum in the UK within two weeks, reaching No. 9 in the pop charts and No. 1 in the classical charts. In fact every UK release to this day by Russell has reached top ten status in the national UK album charts.
His recent scare aside, Russell has been no stranger to career and life threatening scenarios. One of these life changing experiences occurred just after his third album when he began experiencing problems with his voice.
“It was probably one of the single worst days of my life when I went to see the specialist. I told him I was having problems with my falsetto. I could sing chest notes, but I knew I was bypassing the problem. He stuck a pipe up my nose and down my throat and said you’ve got a lump on your vocal chord and that they were going to have to surgically remove it. He was totally honest with me and said that I could lose some of my top register, he couldn’t give me any guarantees. I walked out of the place in tears.” Fortunately the operation was a complete success and Russell returned to full health.
The next album, Amore Musica released November 2004 , was extraordinarily beautiful. It included lyrics by Dianne Warren and Gary Barlow (Take That) and the song ' L Fiamma Sacra 'specially written for him by Ronan Hardiman. This was a record that Russell felt truly reflected his state of mind at that time saying “this is a record about love, music, peace, happiness and hope”. The record-buying public seemed to be inspired.
In 2006 Russell released The Ultimate Collection, a compilation of his greatest hits so far. With a debut at no. 2 in the national album charts, his highest position to date, and a fifth number one in the Classical charts it really proved Russell is here to stay. In the same year he embarked on a new challenge in the form of BBC televisions smash hit show Just the Two of Us. Partnered with UK TV actress Sian Reeves (Cutting It, Holby City, Where the Heart Is) the two of them sang their way to an overwhelming victory on the show.
And it was while recording ' That's Life' at Capitol Studios in Los Angeles that Russell fell ill with a brain tumour. “It was very emotional for me,” says Russell, “For two days while I was waiting to find out if the tumour was cancerous or not, I couldn’t help thinking that these might be my last vocals. When I listen to That’s Life (the title track), I can hear all the meaning in the words.” Despite this news, he kept it secret from everyone and soldiered on to complete the record
To sum it up the record is quite simply a story of passion versus emotion and there really was only one possible title. That’s Life.
That’s Life charted at No. 4 in the UK in March 2007 and remained in the top 5 for 3 weeks. This was closely followed by a sold out 24 date UK tour.
Following a successful tour in Japan, Russell spent the latter half of 2007 working on his latest Album ‘Outside In’ which was released in late November.
The album includes everything from classical tracks such as ‘La Califfa’ and ‘Time To Say Goodbye’ to classic songs such as ‘Unforgettable’- and even a new 2007 version of ‘Nessun Dorma’, which is dedicated to the late Pavarotti. With all this and a voice which is now better than ever, Russell proved once again that he can imbue popular songs as well as classical with his own unique style and grace.
However prior to this, tragedy struck again when Russell collapsed in a studio while making the final touches to the album. Russell was then given the terrible news that he had heard not so long before, and was diagnosed with a second brain tumour .
Following the diagnosis, Russell was given an immediate operation to have the tumour successfully removed, which carried the very real threat of leaving Russell unable to sing again due to the nature of the operation. However, after a successful operation, and undergoing a course of radiotherapy at the beginning of 2008 Russell spent the first part of the year in recovery and building his strength up again .
Russell travelled to Japan in May for live shows before he embarked on a huge UK tour in June and July beginning at Glasgow Clyde Auditorium. With many dates sold out, Russell proved yet again that he was in a league of his own.
In June, Russell made his television comeback as a judge on the on the hit BBC1 show Last Choir Standing. “Because I have come up the hard way, I could empathise with the contestants. Saying: ‘That was rubbish, go away,’ results in somebody’s dream being shattered.”
June 2008 proved to be a hectic and hugely successful month for Russell when he released his autobiography Finding My Voice (Ebury Press), which went straight into the Sunday Times Top Ten.
2009 has been another busy year for Russell , he has completed an 18 date Sell Out UK tour plus summer concerts at Audley & Kenwood , taken part in a charity run in Manchester , he has also been to Taiwan to sing at the World Games .
Russell has had sell out concerts, standing ovations by the doz. and rave reviews all proving what a wonderful and exciting tenor and entertainer he is.
2010 was a brilliant year with many summer concerts and TV appearances including The Royal Variety Performance. Russell received a much deserved Variety Club Award. He also released his long awaited Classical Cd 'LA VOCE' which was a big hit going to No..1 on the Classical charts in UK and New Zealand
2011 has been another fantastic year for Russell, maybe the best yet, with a very successful 23 date UK tour with most venues sold out. The concert at the Royal Albert Hall was recorded and will be on a new DVD to be released in November.
His first appearance at the Llangollen Eisteddfod was a sell out and was shown on Welsh television not once but twice and will be a 3rd time.
More successful overseas concerts in Japan ,Taipei ,New Zealand with rave revues and more concerts still to follow in Australia ,Manila, Singapore etc. as well as an appearance at The Proms in The Park and a Christmas concert at the Festival Hall London .