Brit-award winning harmony group Blake have teamed up with Dame Shirley Bassey for a spectacular Christmas single. This will be the cherry on top of their Christmas concert tour which will treat audiences to lush re-works of classic festive anthems.
Band member Humphrey shares winter vocal advice and recounts the excitement of working with a superstar.
Is this your first Christmas concert tour?
It is! We have been touring for six years now and have often performed in November/December but this is our first Christmas Tour from our first Christmas album! Exciting times!
Will there be any backstage pre-performance routines?
Vocal warm up as ever, make sure the Christmas jumper is clean, tie the bow tie and go give it to them!
What are the most important elements to a successful tour?
Vocal maintenance is vital. We are a vocal group and that is why people come to see us. Two of the main elements of that are sleep and hydration. Not Rock and Roll but essential to a healthy voice and thus top performance.
Any important health tips for keeping the winter germs at bay?
Sleep, hydration, vitamin D spray (under the tongue each morning), exercise and wrap up warm. Eat a healthy diet and stay fit.
How did you decide on the songs?
The usual Blake way. We all come to the table with our own list of songs plus suggestions from fans, pour a cup of tea or glass of wine and listen through to each list. We add in harmonies as we listen and can quickly see what will work. After a long time we have a short list and then work with our arranger to get the final list.
Are there any Christmas songs that didn’t make the cut and why?
There are lots of Christmas songs so many didn’t make it. Some felt too obvious and would not have worked that well once arranged for us and there are only so many you can have on one album. We can put the rest on the next album!
Is it a struggle to remain motivated to sing such covered classic songs?
Not when they are originally such good songs and arranged by brilliant people like Peter Foggit and James Sherlock. If a song or arrangement is well written it’s always enjoyable to sing.
Shirley Bassey is collaborating with you for your Christmas single, how did that come about?
We performed at her 70th birthday which was an amazing experience. We have been lucky enough to see her at events throughout the last seven years and in June of this year we saw her again. She asked what we were up to and she heard we were making a Christmas album. On hearing that, she said she had never recorded a Christmas song so we asked her to do one with us on our album and she said yes! The rest is history!
What was the recording process like with Shirley?
The highlight of my career. She is a true legend and an amazing singer/performer. Incredible tone, vocal character, every take/performance is so unique. We learnt a lot from her and had a blast. She’s a wonderful woman who is so passionate about singing and performing. She’s very focused. The vocal performance comes first.
You guys are very supportive of different charities, which charities will be close to your heart this Christmas?
MIND is very close to my heart and this year is the tenth anniversary of my sisters suicide after a battle with depression. Mental health care is hugely underfunded and lacking throughout in the UK. I felt immensely let down by the care she received and so the role of charities is so important.
Where will we find Blake over the Christmas holidays?
We all go off to see family and catch up with friends. Some of us are off to far flung beaches and others staying in the UK. It will be a manic December so a little sleep will be welcome. If we get the Christmas number 1 the sleep will have to wait!
What does 2016 hold in store for Blake?
We are back touring in the UK, some big Summer Prom concerts, future albums, trips to Asia, Europe and hopefully the USA. We are also talking to Dame Shirley about future projects together so watch this space! We are very lucky boys and will be entering our 9th year as a band which is much longer than most bands. It will be a big year so bring it on!
Mixing eclectic classical and pop songs with rich harmony vocals, harmony singers Blake launched their first album in 2007, just 6 months after reuniting as friends on Facebook. The debut album went straight to number One in the UK Classical Album Chart and into the Top Twenty Pop Chart. With over a million albums sold, and having performed on nearly 150 TV shows around the world, Blake continue to build their reputation as one of the most eclectic and exciting pop-harmony groups in the world.