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 worldwide audience of one billion, Buckingham Palace for the Queen’s Coronation Gala Festival 2013, BBC Proms in the Park 2015, National Memorial Day Concert, Capitol Hill, 2015 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, Sir Paul McCartney, Lulu, Alexandra Burke, Sean Ryder and the late, great Luciano Pavarotti.
In 2015 Russell achieved over 100,000 ticket sales performing in over 90 concerts on his highly successful Up Close and Personal Tour. He also celebrated 25 years in the music industry and 15 years as a recording artist. This was swiftly followed by his Songs From the Heart Tour in Spring 2016.
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 ‘Kristina’ where the New York Times said “Watson’s ‘Puccini ready voice was crystal clear”. His collaboration with Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg meant he fulfilled a lifetime ambition to work alongside the writers of the world’s most successful musical ever, Les Miserables.
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. His voice was used more recently in December 2014 to wake up The New Horizons Pluto Probe.
November 2016 saw the release of Russell’s eleventh studio album True Stories and features him recording live in 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. The recording line up is completed by Blondie bassist Nigel Harrison, Portishead’s Clive Deamer on drums, guitarist Dani Robinson (The Jimi Hendrix Foundation) on guitar, singer/songwriter and FOD label-mate Gregory, on piano and Mikey Crowe (Oasis, High Flying Birds) on keyboards. The songs for the new record were chosen and produced by legendary record producer Bob Rose (George Harrison, Roy Orbison) and include If I Loved You from Carousel, the Mario Lanza number With A Song In My Heart, the superbly reimagined Richard Marx tune Now and Forever, Patty Smyth’s Sometimes Love Just Ain’t Enough and Frank Sinatra’s In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning.