He’s 56 years old. He “failed” on The Voice. Now, his career is taking off at light speed.
He walked onto the stage of The Voice, gave a powerful performance – and lost.
Or did he?
Controversially, none of the judges turned their chairs, but he was offered a recording contract the following week.
Now Bob Blakeley is beginning his career – at 56. He speaks to VoiceCouncil Readers in this exclusive interview.
What’s the REAL story of your singing – did you come to The Voice with lots of experience?
I didn’t have a real singing background. I’ve always loved music and harboured a dream to be a singer but it was always just that, a dream. I had sung a bit of karaoke like most people and then in about 2007 I started singing in pubs and clubs, not really earning much to be honest but at least I was out there doing it.
You sing with power, strength and conviction – and you’re 56 years old. What are the secrets to this vocal power?
I can’t honestly say why my voice is powerful. Well, I’ve always stayed reasonably fit. I played American football for about 6 years.
Singers can fear that they will lose their vocal “edge” as they head out of their 20s and 30s – what would you say to them?
I’ve only discovered my edge recently! I don’t think age is a negative, when you get older your voice takes on a maturity and can become richer.
You walked out onto the TV stage with poise and grace – was it really as easy as you made it look?
No! Not at all. The studio was completely silent before I walked out, not a noise! My knees were knocking but I turned the nerves into adrenalin which has always helped me overcome fear.
What was the toughest part of approaching your performance on The Voice?
On the day I was thinking this day could change my life. Then when I was in the studio my family were kept separate and you are kept away from everybody in a group with the other contestants. I was there from about 7.30am and then my audition was at 2pm, so it’s a long time with your thoughts. But then they called me, and I walked out on stage, stood for a while and then I briefly wondered if I had missed my cue – but then the drummer cued me in and we were off!
What would you say is your no. 1 challenge in the “business” side of things.
The number 1 challenge is to STAY in the business; there are better singers than me who have fallen by the wayside. I would like to be able to make a living from singing.
What is your biggest challenge for you singing in the studio vs. singing live?
Singing in the studio is a different discipline; repeating the same song or the same line several times is harder work in some ways than performing that song just once live. It is also mentally hard work as you are striving for perfection as the record will be around forever. I learnt that it is important to realise when your voice is tired or when to call it a day!
Have you had any vocal coaching?
Only since recording the album. I have had a couple of vocal sessions with Mary Higgins and have learned better breathing, better techniques with my vocal cords and how to look after my voice – what to drink (honey, lemon and ginger) and what to avoid (I’ve cut down on dairy and spicy food).
What would you say to singers struggling to develop their own unique voice?
When you perform to backing tracks and as a tribute artist you deliberately develop your delivery to sound like the original artist. When we started recording I didn’t realise that I was singing in the style of the other singers, until my producer Mike Batt pointed it out. He also told me that when I was on The Voice I didn’t sing like Michael Buble, I sang like myself. So I needed to find that quality for each song. It was actually quite liberating.
Bob Blakeley has just released his debut album ‘Performance’. Produced by Mike Batt, and recorded with an orchestra at the legendary Air Studios in London, ‘Performance’ includes Bob’s renditions of classic standards including his signature song ‘Cry Me A River’.