We are absolutely delighted to introduce you to our Compère, Duncan Heather. Duncan was also a judge at the regional heats but, in the Final, he will be sticking solely to his role as Compère. However, Duncan has a beautiful tenor voice and will, once again, be singing for us at the start of the show.
Duncan’s passion for performance started at a young age. He was born and raised in Salisbury on the south coast of England. It was here that he was classically trained in musical theatre and classical vocal technique. In his teens, he was a member of a 50 strong Pop/Rock choir, performing all over the south of England as a Featured Lead Vocalist.
From that moment on, he has been lucky enough to never stop working professionally. He has performed all over the world in musical theatre, covering all genres of song, from London’s West End to Lead Tenor in ‘The Spirit Of Broadway at the ‘legendary ‘Via Funchal’ Theatre in Brazil.
Throughout his career, Duncan has worked as a Soloist, creating and producing his own productions and Theatre shows and, also, as part of a larger cast in International Arenas and UK Theatres, gracing the same stages as Des O Connor, Joe Longthorne and Brian Blessed, to name a few.
Duncan experienced one of his greatest achievements on stage back in 2009. He was requested to perform at ‘The Sporting Club’ in Monte Carlo, performing for an audience including the Prince Of Monaco and Dame Shirley Bassey.
Duncan went on to play Frankie Valli in the Rock and Roll musical ‘Twist and Shout’ in Atlantic City, USA. Performed as one of ‘The 12 Tenors’ on a sell out International tour and cruised the world as a featured vocalist for Celebrity Cruise lines.
In 2012 Duncan was asked to perform alongside Jonathan Ansell of G4 fame, in a memorable and emotional performance in Istanbul for the remembrance of the many victims of the Earthquake that hit Turkey in 2011.
He toured the UK and Europe with the new Queen production ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ to critical acclaim, alongside some of the West End and Broadway’s biggest musical theatre stars and has just finished starring in the Frankie Valli musical ‘New Jersey Nights’ on a full UK tour.
Now Duncan is a new Father and family man, he has been focussing on his solo show, performing at many national corporate events and headlining onto cruise ships as a guest entertainer. All through this, Duncan is busy creating some original compositions and material for future release.
Duncan has been very supportive of us from the start and we are thrilled to have him on board. Passionate about music education, Duncan offers singing tuition to schools. He has a beautiful tenor voice.
Presenter and Broadcaster
Gilly wanted to work in radio since the age of 11, after listening to his local radio station, BBC Radio Merseyside, and thinking “I would love to work there when I leave school.” He, initially, went to work at his local Co-operative Bank in St Helens upon leaving school, but, still bitten by the radio bug, he then spent several years as a volunteer with his local hospital radio station at Whiston.
He was persistent in sending off demo tapes to radio stations in the North West, eventually getting the chance to present for Red Rose Radio in Preston where he stayed for almost 13 years, having presented every programme on the station. Here, he became a household name across the county, with his quick wit and very listenable presentation skills. He left in 1998 to join The Bay in Lancaster, again trying his hand at every timeslot on the station and delivering the highest audience figures ever for the mid-morning show.
Gilly joined BBC Radio Lancashire in July 2005. He now presents the hugely popular 12-4pm programme Monday to Friday, including the popular outside broadcast feature he does as part of the programme and the popular ‘Intimate Afternoons’ from the Radio Theatre with a live studio audience. Gilly also presents Saturday Breakfast 6-9am.
He likes listening to music ‘off air’ and says the blend of music played on BBC Radio Lancashire is just right for his own ear as well as the listeners. His favourite track is by Eric Clapton, ‘Wonderful Tonight’. In his spare time, he enjoys photography and ten pin bowling, although he bravely admits that he needs the lane bumpers in place to help him get big scores!
Gilly has recently smashed a Guinness World Record for the most number of face-to-face interviews on the radio in 24hours, of which True Bearing Chartered Financial Planners was a part, beating the previous record by 37. He did 293 interviews, asking 1648 questions.
We are thrilled to have such support from the county’s favourite radio station.
Tyndale Thomas MBE
The Manchester-based singer, composer and choir director, Tyndale Thomas MBE has been a hugely important behind-the-scenes figure in the British gospel scene.
Music has been part of his life since he was a child as his family were highly musical. He learned to play piano by watching his brothers play and copying them. His family had many musical instruments, including a set of drums, a bass guitar, an electric guitar, acoustic guitar, electric keyboards and acoustic piano. For his family, music was a way of life. They called themselves The Thomas Brothers which, as they grew older, became part of The Challengers, one of the first really contemporary gospel outfits in the country. The Challengers were indeed pioneers. Bringing fresh R&B rhythms to the traditional gospel sound, The Challengers pre-dated Kainos and Paradise and the other early British gospel groups of the ’70s.
In 2006, he contributed the majority of the arrangements for the release of 100 Voices ‘The Best Gospel Album In The World. Ever’, which was recorded at Abbey Road Studios.
In 2008, Tyndale was awarded an MBE in The Queen’s Birthday Honours List, for his work in integrating gospel and inspirational music within the music industry.
Young voices commissioned him to write a booklet called a Sing Book – songs that speak to children. He works with many choirs in the north-west and loves bringing choirs together to sing and teaches many workshops, both in Britain and in Germany. Tyndale was with us as a judge throughout all the Regional Heats.
Simon Bowman is perhaps best known for creating the role of Chris in the original London production of Miss Saigon at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, which opened in September 1989. He received widespread acclaim for his performance, playing the role for around 1,000 performances. He has since played many of the best leading roles in the West End including the title role in The Phantom of the Opera and Jean Valjean in Les Misérables.
Simon was born and grew up in Cardiff and feels very close to his Welsh roots. Although they say that everyone in Wales sings, it was far from inevitable that he would choose a career in musical theatre. He was thinking of going to university but when he was in the sixth form he was asked to help out with some vocal sounds in the school production of Oklahoma. Then, one day, in rehearsals, the lead boy was off and he was asked to stand in and sing, ‘Oh What A Beautiful Morning’. The next year he was asked to help out again and agreed, thinking it was going to be the same set up. However, he was shocked to find they had given him the lead role in a show called Rock Nativity. He was eventually talked into doing it and found he really enjoyed it, so his teachers suggested he should go to Drama College. Simon has always been grateful for the guidance, help and support of his headmaster Gwyn James and his English and music teachers John Wilkins and John Wickett.
Simon went to Mountview Theatre School in North London and, in 1982, he graduated, aged 21, with an acting diploma. It was a straight acting course and he was doing Chekhov, Shaw, Ibsen and Shakespeare and played such diverse roles as John Procter in The Crucible and Mark Anthony in Julius Caesar. In the whole three years, they only did one musical, West Side Story, and he played Tony. However, interestingly, sometime later, Mountview closed and moved and it became an acting and musical theatre school.
When Simon finished at Mountview he wasn’t really expecting a career in musicals. However, the 80s were a time when big things were happening in the musical theatre world and there were many exciting opportunities. He landed his first major role with the London Players Theatre Company in Villiers Street within days of finishing drama college. Other roles quickly followed and, in 1985, he gained rave reviews as the young Elvis in Are You Lonesome Tonight? He went on to play a wide variety of leading West End roles as well as doing television and concerts both in the UK and all over the world.
Working in a big musical with eight performances a week is a demanding job. In addition to the performances, there are always more rehearsals or calls for costumes, wigs or photos, especially at the beginning. It doesn’t leave a lot of time for anything else. But Simon loves all sports, especially rugby, football, golf, sea fishing and Formula 1. He loves being out in the country and does a lot of oil painting. He enjoys song writing and has also written a musical The Lost Weekend with John Sinclair, formerly of Uriah Heep. We are delighted to have him as one of our judges for the Final and we are just as thrilled that he is going to sing for us.
Tom Newall is a British conductor and his engagements cover a spectrum of work including opera, orchestral and choral pieces and musical theatre.
Tom trained at Durham University and at the Royal Northern College of Music.
Over the past ten years, Tom has held principal conductor positions with a variety of ensembles, including Durham University Symphony and Chamber Orchestras, Chesterfield Symphony Orchestra, and Warrington Youth Symphony Orchestra. He is, currently, Music Director for Blackburn Music Society, Leeds Youth Opera and Piccadilly Symphony Orchestra.
Tom is also active as a guest conductor and has recently worked with ensembles including Sheffield Philharmonic Orchestra, Wilmslow Symphony Orchestra, North Cheshire Wind Orchestra and Sedbergh Orchestra. He also conducted Manchester Camerata as part of the culmination of his Master’s Degree.
Other commitments include running a choir at sea, on board mv Voyager, with Voyages of Discovery, on trips to the Caribbean and Asia. In 2012, Tom was invited to be an artist delivering workshops as part of an international conference for the chemical firm Brenntag.
In September 2013, Tom founded a new symphony orchestra for Manchester, Piccadilly Symphony Orchestra. This year sees PSO’s first full season, providing playing opportunities for current music college students and graduates. PSO has also developed an extensive outreach programme and their first commission will come to fruition in 2015 with an orchestral and vocal project with members of the Collyhurst community in Manchester.
In December 2014, Tom gave his Bridgewater Hall debut at the invitation of Jason Manford to conduct his Christmas Charity Concert with Piccadilly Symphony Orchestra.
Future engagements include performances of Mendelssohn’s ‘Elijah’ and Elgar’s ‘Dream of Gerontius’ in Blackburn, productions of Donizetti’s ‘The Elixir of Love’ and Britten’s ‘Paul Bunyan’ in Leeds, and in Manchester Stravinsky’s ‘Rite of Spring’ with Piccadilly Symphony Orchestra.
You can find out more about Tom on his website (link above)
Martin began his music studies at an early age, learning piano, and singing in local school, church and festival choirs. At secondary school he added violin and latterly cello to his portfolio, performing widely with local & college orchestras.
Martin studied music at UCW Aberystwyth, performing as an accompanist and instrumentalist, composer and arranger. Here he also joined the prestigious choral group, The Elizabethan Madrigal Singers or “MADS”, and has for many years since performed in and organised a variety of choral groups and workshops, specialising in a capella music.
He has performed, occasionally as soloist, with a number of choral groups both at home and abroad, touring in Europe and the USA, and has also enjoyed involvement in residential courses as performer and conductor. He has enjoyed the privilege of singing in some of Europe’s finest churches and cathedrals, even acting as cantor during an event in the Thomaskirche in Leipzig, standing close to the tomb of J.S.Bach.
When Martin created Singers of Note in 1997 as a one-off birthday celebration, he entered a new phase, creating a workshop style that so grew in popularity it become an annual event recognizing anniversaries of composers known and relatively unknown. From this developed a monthly offshoot where a core group meets to sing socially or travel to enjoy a workshop day with other singers in different parts of the country. Further developments include residential weekends, the occasional charity concert or choral evensong, and openings to develop events with other groups and individuals.
Amongst Martin’s other musical engagements he has accepted invitations to conduct groups around the UK from University Choirs, including “MADS”, to Early Music Fora workshops, and invited to sing with groups from North to South. He is currently the Musical Director of Northern Voices, a group based in the Stockport and Hayfield area, and directs Cantores, an octet based in Sheffield. He is also the organist and choirmaster at Brindle St.James and sometime substitute in other churches in the North West and North East.
Though he now spends a lot more time leading groups, he still finds plenty of time to perform vocally and instrumentally. He is part of the Musicwork octet in Chesterfield who have performed on a number of occasions around the Derbyshire region and on mainland Europe, and regularly guests with other choirs around the region as well as participating in workshops, charity and festival choral events.
Martin’s other business interests include work in IT training as Quickfire Training, dedicated to enabling people and companies to use computers to best advantage, and because of his keen interest in natural remedies, as a Distributor with Forever Living, the world’s largest producer of aloe vera based natural health products.
As Managing Director of Reidys Home of Music (One of the largest music instrument retailers in the UK), Paul Nuttall has spent his whole career in music and is also a talented pianist and composer to boot.
A family-run business, established in 1922, Reidys Home of Music in Blackburn has its own in-store live stage which hosts the Reidys Exposure competition each year, where artists of every genre from all over the UK flock to showcase their original music in a bid to win great prizes and media coverage.
Reidys sister company is AATW, a record company that has had 75 top 40 hits in the UK. including 11 number ones. and has artists such as NTrance, Scooter, LMC, Sigma, NDubz, Tulisa, Dappy, Cascada, Phillip George and many more. Paul listens to artist demo recordings each week, judging the talent presented to him, providing experience that puts him in good stead to judge the talent on show throughout the competition.
We were delighted to have Paul judge one of our Regional Heats.
Jonathan Ansell is one of the UK’s most admired young tenors, with a unique ability to truly connect with his audience through the gift of his soaring high tenor voice.
Jonathan, who now has sold over 2million albums, shot to fame on the first ever series of the X-Factor in 2004 where he, as part of pop-opera group G4, came second and went on to top the charts with 3 albums and 4 sell-out tours.
When they split in 2007, he was propelled to instant stardom as a solo artist signing a £1 million record deal with Universal Classics and Jazz and soon released two chart topping albums ‘Tenor at the Movies’ and ‘Forever’. This glorious young tenor continued to wow audiences as a bona fide solo artist.
Jonathan, who has been nominated for a Classical Brit Award, has continued to wow audiences, both in the UK and internationally, with his sensational voice, proving himself as a bona fide sola artist. Some of Jonathan’s solo career highlights include the nationwide Valentines Tour with Hayley Westenra; a tour of the United States with the late Marvin Hamlisch accompanied by the NSO and PSO, several performances at the Royal Albert Hall including: the Classical Brits; Classic FM at the Movies and the Festival of Remembrance in front of Her Majesty the Queen and most recently performing as ‘Jesus’ in the World Premier of ‘Omega and Alpha’ in Wells Cathedral.
Theatre has recently become an exciting new direction for him, his debut role being as ‘The Man’ in Andrew Lloyd Webbers ‘Whistle Down the Wind’, which was a huge critical success.
Jonathan has also performed at a number of Friday Night is Music Night broadcasts for the BBC including the Andrew Lloyd Webber Birthday Concert in Hyde Park and Lyrics by Don Black at the London Palladium.
Jonathan’s latest solo album ‘Two Hearts’, an eclectic mix of popular, rock, musical theatre and classical love songs, including his first self-penned track is out now.
Jonathan has many solo shows throughout 2014 around the world but he is delighted to also announce that G4 are reuniting for a special ‘One Night Only’ show at the Barbican Centre, London to celebrate their 10th Anniversary since appearing on the X FACTOR.
We are very excited he is judging our Final and we are sure the choirs will be, too.
Susan studied singing at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, where she also worked closely with the Welsh National Opera. She has sung with the National Youth Choir of Great Britain and the BBC National Chorus, has been session singing and had numerous solo recitals across Europe, as well as musical theatre productions. Now based in Pendle, Lancashire, she is a singing teacher, choir leader and LAMDA Musical Theatre tutor at Westholme School, Blackburn, having gained extensive experience at numerous primary and secondary schools and sixth form colleges.
Susan is still expanding her vocal knowledge and expertise and is looking forward to working towards her teacher accreditation for the ‘Vocal Process’ with Dr Gillyanne Kayes and Jeremy Fisher, having already completed levels 1 and 2 of the Estill Voice training course. She regularly holds singing workshops and masterclasses, and, as an adjudicator, will be returning to judge Last Choir Singing in 2016. Her energy and expertise is highly sought after, leading choirs to hire Susan to guest at rehearsals where she has been dubbed the “Choir Doctor”!
Susan is regularly contacted to provide singers for TV work, events, weddings and session singing as well as being asked to prepare performers for auditions. She is a member of the Association of British Choral Directors, AOTOS, and is the administrator of the Pendle Young Musicians Bursary.
Susan was the founder of the award winning girls’ choir the Arden Youth Choir aka Arden Angels. Under her leadership, the Arden Angels competed in BBC ‘Choir of the Year’, ITV’s ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ and Sky TV’s ‘Must Be Music’ as well as going on tour to Paris. Whilst with the Arden, Susan also formed a close working relationship with, and regularly supported, the internationally renowned London Community Gospel Choir.
Susan has 100% pass rate for ABRSM, LAMDA and Trinity singing exams and many students have gone on to music Conservatoires and Performing Arts colleges. She is DBS cleared and has Child Safeguarding Level One.
Along with all this hard work, Susan still manages to look after a daughter of five and son of three! … And a husband!!
His parents loved music and encouraged him to learn to play piano, which he started at the age of six – although he grew up playing the flute first and foremost. This was the era of James Galway and everyone was playing the flute, so Stephen chose to study piano and organ at college.
In his third year at college, he started working with singers, and became interested in the piano accompaniment side of things. He undertook a year’s course at the National Opera studio which prepares repetiteurs (piano accompaniment players) for a professional career in opera.
He quickly got a job with Scottish Opera as a repetiteur and, when the chorus master left after he had been there a year, he was asked to take over. At 26, that was quite a big job to take on, but a hugely rewarding one. Stephen stayed for three years and then took a job as assistant chorus master at the English National Opera.
Once again, when the chorus master left, he was offered the role. This was 1993 and he stayed until 2005. After that, it was quite a departure as he went to Holland to work for Nationale Reisopera in Enschede for two years.
After freelancing for a time, Stephen took on the challenge of chorus master at the Welsh National Opera in 2008.
One of Stephen’s biggest highlights was the production ‘Khovanshchina’, for two reasons: It was his first large scale production as chorus master at English National Opera, with 90 in the chorus and his first big challenge. And it was one of the first productions he did when he started at the Welsh National Opera.
Stephen says the biggest rewards of being a chorus master are working with a group of people who are a real mix of personalities, and all have strengths beyond singing. He says he is lucky to have such a fantastic job.
Debbie Jones BA(Hons) DipMus(open) ALCM (pfp)
Debbie is now the lead singer in a successful jazz/blues band Tipitina and has worked as a singer/ backing singer with many bands and choirs over the years.
This work has brought many TV and Radio appearances and Tipitina have featured on many radio stations worldwide including BBC Radio 2, New Orleans radio and radio Atlanta.
Tipitina have played all over Europe, the UK, and the USA. They have played international jazz festivals, represented the Albert Hall at ‘West End Live’ and are regulars at the famous Ronnie Scotts jazz club in London . They have been nominated for a British Jazz Award in 2012,2013, 2014 &2015 and look forward to recording their 3rd album this year. They visited New Orleans in 2013 and were featured in ‘The Times Picayunne’ newspaper with a double page spread on their musical adventure!
Debbie is also an educator in music, teaching piano and vocals and she runs four young choirs. She also co-directs the ‘Sing It Big’ choir, based in chorley. This choir started in 2013 with just a few people at the 1st rehearsal and has now has gone from strength to strength with around 50 members to date.
She is passionate about her teaching work also loves to write music, having written songs for choirs in schools and on Tipitina’s second and upcoming third album.
Steve Balsamo is a singer-songwriter from Swansea, Wales. After years of learning the ropes in local rock bands, he shot to prominence in 1997 after playing Jesus to great critical acclaim in the West End revival of Jesus Christ Superstar. After winning a Variety Club Award for the role, Steve decided to return to his first love – writing and performing his own music – and signed to Columbia Records soon after. In 2002, Steve released his debut album – All I Am – which reached the top 40 in the UK. He then went on to win Best Male Solo Artist at The Welsh Music Awards the same year.
Gentle ‘persuasion’ by the head of the label saw Steve return to the stage in the French phenomena Notre Dame De Paris, which was followed by Poe – More Tales Of Mystery and Imagination, a new musical by Alan Parsons Project writer, Eric Woolfson. Based on the life and work of Edgar Alan Poe, the show had its world premiere at the legendary Abbey Road Studios in 2003, and features the powerful song ‘Immortal’.
In 2004, Steve formed The Storys, a West Coast influenced harmony country-rock band, with Andy Collins, Rob Thompson and Dai Smith. The band’s highly acclaimed self-titled debut album, released in 2006, came to the attention of Elton John who, after publicly declaring it “Fantastic!”, personally called Steve at home and invited the band to tour Europe with him – twice! The Storys have also toured and played with the likes of Joe Cocker, Katie Melua, Celine Dion, Santana, Runrig, Daniel Lanois, Van Morrison and Tom Jones to name-drop but a few.
The Storys’ songs have been featured in the US teen drama One Tree Hill and hit Brit-flick The Bank Job , in which the band also made a cameo appearance playing two of their own songs. They released their second album – Town Beyond The Trees – in the UK in 2008, again to great reviews. Although calling time on The Storys, the band released a third and final album called Luck in the summer of 2010.
As a side project, Steve also formed a progressive experimental rock project with Rob Reed (Magenta) and Rob Thompson (The Storys) called ChimpanA. The resulting CD also featured Sam Brown, Tony Dallas, Christina Booth (Magenta), Margo Buchanan, Bluei, Nigel Hopkins, Andrew Griffiths and Sian Cothi. The musical influences were Pink Floyd, Peter Gabriel, Bjork and Massive Attack.
Steve also formed a trio, Oystermouth, with Rob Thompson and Andy Collins of The Storys, creating a sound that is a modern twist along the lines of Simon & Garfunkel in the those hazy, folky, seminal days of the late 60s/early 70s.
After meeting Jon Lord, founder, writer and ex-keyboard player with Deep Purple at The Sunflower Jam in 2007, Steve was asked if he would like to tour with him. A huge fan of Jon, his solo work and Purple, Steve feels very privileged to have worked with such a legend and genuinely nice man. Until Jon’s recent death, he and Steve were writing and recording for an album project.
Aside from this, Steve is a prolific songwriter, having scored hits in Europe and Australia with artists as diverse as Meat Loaf, Anthony Callea, Jonatan Cerrada, and Slash of Guns n’ Roses fame.
Recently he has been writing songs with beautiful, ethereal-voiced folk/country singer, Rosalie Deighton and Julian Wilson of Grand Drive, for a duet project originally titled Balsamo/Deighton and they have released a stunning new video and a new version of the Shawn Colvin song “I Don’t Know Why”, also available for download as a single. He has also been working with a Welsh classical crossover singer, Annelies, on an exciting new project.
Steve feels blessed to have had many adventures in music which have allowed him to sing on stage with the likes of Roger Daltry, Robert Plant, Mario Frangoulis, Justin Hayward, Lara Fabian, Madeleine Peyroux, Glenn Hughes, Steve Harley, Lulu, a couple of Stones, a couple of Eagles, a couple of Floyds and some of the best players on the planet!
When he’s not making music, Steve tries to be a good dad, paints, swims, reads, listens to Radio 4 and thinks too much.
Since the early 1980s, Chris Eaton has developed a profile as one of Britain’s classic songwriters. His unique brand of ‘white soul’ song writing has made him a favourite of the world’s pop aristocracy. SIR CLIFF RICHARD has led the pack, recording more than 20 of Chris’ songs since 1981, and taking ‘Saviour’s Day’ to No. 1 in the UK singles chart over Christmas 1990. ‘Saviour’s Day’ has now become a Christmas ‘standard’ and has been recorded by a growing number of artists.
In 2003, Chris has various songs on Cliff’s Christmas ‘Greatest Hits’ which went to # 9 in the UK charts, including Cliff’s # 5 Christmas single “Santa’s List”. Continuing this 20-year association, Chris co-wrote 4 songs for Sir Cliff’s Nashville album, “Something’s Goin’ On”, released in 2004, and penned the classic Cliff track ‘Golden’ to commemorate 50 years in the business.
Chris has also enjoyed a special working relationship with US superstar, AMY GRANT – since Amy first recorded his song ‘Little Town’, he has played and/or had his songs performed, on most of her major recordings. Including ‘Hats’ on the Multi-platinum album ‘Heart In Motion’ and two songs on her No 2 pop album ‘Home For Christmas’. ‘Breath Of Heaven’ from this album was voted US CCM song of the year in 1994 in Billboard. Amy recorded ‘Christmas Lullaby’ and ‘A Christmas To Remember’ for her 2000 release ‘A Christmas Album’. In 2003 Amy’s album ‘Simple Things’ included a song she co-wrote with Chris ‘Out In The Open’. Another Grant/Eaton co-write “Third World Woman” featured on Amy’s 2010 album ‘Somewhere Down The Road’. Chris has also toured with Amy as her keyboard player.
“Breath Of Heaven” was also included on JESSICA SIMPSON’S 2004 platinum-selling Christmas album, “Rejoice”. The song has also been recorded by US country superstar VINCE GILL as title track of his 1998 album, which reached No. 5 in the US Country chart. Other notable mainstream artists to cover Chris’ songs include JANET JACKSON with “Hold Back The Tears”; SHEENA EASTON with “All I Ask” and “Dance Away The Blues”; PATTI AUSTIN – “Stars In Our Eyes” on MCA/GRP ; DONNA SUMMER – “Breath Of Heaven”; MICHAEL BALL – “All For Nothing”; ROCH VOISINE – “Dance With A Stranger”; and, COLIN BLUNSTONE – “Everlasting Love” and “What Is Love”. EMI / Electrola artist CLAUDIA JUNG covered “Saviour’s Day” in a duet with CLIFF RICHARD on her Christmas album. Also in 1997 GROVER WASHINGTON JNR. recorded “Breath Of Heaven” as title track for his Christmas album (Columbia Records). Warner US act, BONEY JAMES has recorded an instrumental version of “Breath Of Heaven”. Sony Spain artist, MONICA NARANJO has recorded a Spanish language version of “Live For You” on her 2002 album.
Chris has had an incredible run of No.1 radio hits in the US in the huge Contemporary Christian music market over the past two decades. Artists such as JACI VELASQUEZ (‘Flower In The Rain’), WAYNE WATSON (‘Be In Her Eyes’), Chris’ own EMI/Sparrow single ‘Everlasting Love’, SUSAN ASHTON (‘Body and Soul’) and, 4 HIM (‘Lay It All On The Line’). In October 1998 Jaci Velasquez’ recording of Chris’ song ‘God So Loved The World’ went to No. 1 across every Christian radio format. Jaci performed this song to open the 1998 DOVE AWARDS, which were televised nationally in the U.S. The song was nominated in the Best Song and Best Record categories of the 1999 Dove Awards in the U.S. Jaci’s 2001 Christmas album includes ‘The Angel Song’.
Chris had five songs on the debut smash hit RACHAEL LAMPA album ‘Live For You’ on Word records. The title track and first single off this album (written by Chris Eaton and Chris Rodriguez) shot straight to No.1 in Billboard’s contemporary Christian singles chart. Rachael recorded ‘No Greater Love’ (co-written with Margaret Becker) for her 2002 album ‘Kaleidoscope’. ‘No Greater love’ was No. 1 at CCM radio, also released to US pop radio. Chris has had songs recorded by other major US CCM acts as POINT OF GRACE (‘When Love Came Down’), MARGARET BECKER (‘Friend For Life’, ‘What Kind Of Love’), SHEILA WALSH (‘That’s What Faith Is For’) and AVALON (‘Hide My Soul’). Chris also co-wrote two songs, ‘River Of Life'(performed by REBECCA ST JAMES) and, ‘Heaven And Earth’ (performed by NICOLE NORDEMAN) for the ‘HEAVEN & EARTH’ project on Sparrow Records.
In October 2002, Chris won an unprecedented (for a single non-US writer) 3 BMI US airplay awards for “Live For You”, co-written with Chris Rodriguez and recorded by RACHAEL LAMPA; ‘Adore’ recorded by JACI VELASQUEZ; and, ‘Lift Me Up’ recorded by Rachel Lampa.
In that same year, Chris joined forces with his two long-standing business associates, Valerie Jannsen and Stuart Ongley in a co-publishing venture, based in Nashville. The fruits of this collaboration include a # 1 US CCM single; 2 tracks on the million- selling WOW compilation; a BMI award; 4 co-writes on the aforementioned Cliff Richard album, “Something’s Goin’ On”; “Golden” being chosen by SIR CLIFF RICHARD as the theme for his 2009 50th anniversary World Tour; a performance at London’s Royal Albert Hall; songs recorded by Pop Idol finalist, CHRIS SLIGH; SELAH; CECE WINANS, AMY GRANT and BUILDING 429; an Eaton co-write, “All For You” on country superstar KEITH URBAN’S 2010 album, ‘Get Closer’; Universal recording artist MARY-JESS recorded 2 songs co-written with Chris on her 2011 album ‘Shine’; 2012 Christmas radio hit with “Thinking about you (This Christmas)” a song Chris wrote with the artist, PAUL CARRACK; and, 2014 Top 5 chart action in Japan with “Dream You Back” by W-INDS.
2014 saw Chris working on two musicals, either side of the Atlantic – ‘Blue Christmas’, a brand new mini musical written with Allison Allen in the USA, and ‘The Snow Queen’ written with Sue Pomeroy in the UK. Chris produced a Christmas project for the amazing Uk female artist, Mary-Jess. Chris’s latest Christmas hit is “1914, A Silent Night” commemorating WW1.
2015 has begun with a bang where many of Chris’s brand new arrangements of old hymn classics are flowing freely through the worship world, and Chris, who writes constantly for specific worship projects for his local church, is developing his teaching side, leading seminars on songwriting/ worship leadership etc.
From 2015,Chris, along with his wife Abby, have teamed up with ‘la creme de la crème’, total lifestyle brand, ‘Temple Spa’, who specialise in luxury 5 star skin care product. They are working together to create an exciting, innovative music programme to enhance temple Spa product.
Chris is currently producing a record for the acclaimed ‘pop-opera’ male vocalist, USA’s David Ask. There are also plans afoot for Chris to write the music score for a brand new independent movie due for 2018 release in the UK.
After a year out travelling around the world, he completed his PGCE in Secondary Music at the Manchester Metropolitan University and, subsequently, started teaching music at Fallibroome High School (now Academy) in Macclesfield. After 3 years he and his wife moved to Sydney, Australia, where he had two temporary music teaching positions before returning to the UK. On his return, he was appointed Head of Music at Saint Aidan’s Church of England High School in Preesall, Lancashire, where he taught for 5 years.
In September 2015, Ben became a Regional Manager for Lancashire Music Service and is thoroughly enjoying his new post and looking forward to being a part of this great ‘Last Choir Singing’ contest.
Yorkshire born Margaret Foxley started singing at a young age, performing Mendelssohn’s Elijah at the age of eight in a local choir at Ickornshaw Chapel.
As a student, Margaret performed in a number of musical theatre productions. After qualifying as a teacher of the deaf, Margaret taught in schools in Banbury and Bradford before joining Bradford Health, training health professionals and establishing one of the country’s first Peer Education projects for young people. In 1997 she joined Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School (QEGS) in Blackburn to set up and head their Complementary Studies department, concerned primarily with health and life skills.
Margaret sang for many years as an Alto with KVU Singers. Since 2009 Margaret has been an ambassador for restorative justice, often appearing on radio and TV. She set up and chairs the first restorative justice panel for Lancashire and is a Pendle Borough councillor.
In 2010 Margaret and husband, Paul set up the Jessica Foxley Music Projects in memory of their musically talented daughter who was killed in a car crash the previous year. The Music Projects provide outstanding creative composer and performance opportunities for young musicians from all over the UK through a variety of initiatives.
In 1999 Kadria, along with Tyndale Thomas co-founded Urban Voice who have since its formation developed a unique and special demand for Gospel music based education work in a variety of context, making them one of a few successful professional companies to provide music and singing to culturally diverse communities throughout the country and in Europe. There have been several TV and radio performances including Songs of Praise, Mike Sweeny Radio Manchester, Royal Exchange Theatre for Blues for Mr Charlie, Radio 4 production of The Colour Purple, The launch of AIDA by Tim Rice and Elton John in Essen Germany
Between 2003 to the present day Kadria has directed multi-media productions for Urban Voice and other organisations in the Northwest, working on several projects. Two of the largest productions “Inquotation” a multi- media music and singing production that accommodated 120 singers, 5 musicians and 10 dancers staged at the Bridgewater Hall and attracted an audience of over 2000 with nearly 90% representation from Asian, West Indian and African communities and Rhythm Of Life staged at the RNCM in Manchester as part of the Commonwealth Festival in 2002 again featured a 200 strong choir and was sold out within 3 days.
Kadria has been in post as choir director for the Accord Inspirational Gospel Choir since the year 2000 and has recently been recruited as choir director for the Soul Inspiration Choir. Both choirs will be celebrating 15years and 5year anniversaries respectively.
Over the last 5 years Kadria has used her experience and skills to encourage and motivate people. Her first invitation in 2002 was to speak and deliver a presentation at a conference for 200 women entitled Healing in the Music. Since then Kadria has been invited into prisons, community initiative events such as Mothers Against Guns, Every Child Matters.
At the present Kadria is working with The Pennine Care Trust delivering singing sessions to people within the mental health care services for both patients and practitioners who are dealing with isolation, anxiety, depression etc. Her latest work is with Together Dementia directing a choir who’s members have Dementia and their carers.
“I have been singing, song writing and teaching singing for over 30 years and in all those years no 2 days have ever been the same. Nothing gives me more satisfaction than when I hear melodies and harmonies filling a space. Every session I am involved with is a new learning experience and a blessing.”
Shirley Court was appointed as Director of the Hallé Children’s Choir in September 2008. Shirley is nationally known for her ability to motivate and inspire young singers of all ages and capabilities. In September 2006 she was awarded with an Honorary Degree of DMus for her work as a conductor of Youth Choirs and Music in Schools from the University of Leicester.
Whilst working in Leicestershire as Vocal and Choral Specialist her award winning girls’ choir, The Chanterelles, won the Llangollen International Eisteddfod Youth Choir section and were runners up in the Sainsbury’s Choir of the Year Competition 2000. In February 2009 the Chanterelles re-formed as a ladies Choir and returned to the Eisteddfod in July 2010 and won the Ladies category. The choir is now made up of 50 young ladies who will perform three or four times a year in concerts up and down the country.
Shirley has conducted the Massed Choir of 600 voices at the Royal Albert Hall as part of the Music for Youth’s School Prom on three occasions. She still teaches in schools and runs Singing days for children and young people of all ages
Shirley was the conductor of both the Senior Girls and Junior CBSO Youth Choruses from 1995 until July 2009. In this role she has worked alongside many world famous conductors preparing the Youth Chorus for many prestigious events.
She also acts as a consultant on many National Singing initiatives and delivers INSET courses for teachers. Shirley is delighted to be the Programme Leader for the Hallé Leading School Choirs Course for all teachers who run school choirs.
She is also the co-author of the best-selling Boosey & Hawkes Singing Sherlock Books for Key Stage 1 and 2. She is currently working on the fifth book in the series.
He has conducted for Dodworth and Skelmanthorpe Male Voice Choirs, the Allendale Chamber Orchestra, the Liverpool Welsh Choral Union, Sing Live UK, Unlimited Voices and The Huddersfield Choral Society, most notably for concerts with Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and José Carreras. He has also been chorus master for ‘The Magic of Queen’ and the Electric Light Orchestra (ELO), rock classics concerts with the Hallé Orchestra and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
Alongside his choral work he has conducted the Manchester Philharmonic, Derbyshire Sinfonia, Lancashire Chamber Orchestra, the National Festival Orchestra, the Yorkshire Wind Orchestra, and a variety of other bands and ensembles. He is in demand as a choral and voice specialist, but studied piano, brass and voice and has equal extensive experience in each field. He has led choral days and workshops every year since 1993 and continues to inspire singers throughout the country. He has led workshops and coached young singers in both Peru and Bahrain.
Steven has been privileged to conduct in many of the country’s most prestigious concert halls. He has also conducted in many sacred settings including St Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City, St Mark’s Basilica, Venice as well as in Florence, Sorrento, Amalfi, Milan, Austria, Paris, Bavaria, Montecassino, Barcelona and Poland.
He is Musical Director for COAL, an award-winning contemporary dance piece choreographed by Gary Clarke.
He has been an adjudicator with the British and International Federation of Festivals since 2002 and has recently become Chairman of the Federation.
Jean-Philip Bowen is a tenor and entertainer and has performed all over the world, particularly in the USA, where he has graced the stages of theatres in Vegas, including Caesar’s Palace, the Broadway Theatre and Planet Hollywood.
Originally from Norway, he spent many years living in the USA and has recently moved from Las Vegas to the UK.
His professional experience as a performer stretches over 15 years on land & sea.
Credits include: Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruises, Princess Cruises, P&O Cruises, National USA Tours, Casinos, Niagara Falls, NYC, Myrtle Beach and Reno. He has also been on tour with two different shows celebrating the music of Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons.
John-Philip holds a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre from Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio. He is also a professional photographer. John-Philip is a singer/soloist at heart but loves all aspects of the Arts. He loves passing his knowledge of vocal technique and performance on to others and works as a vocal coach, both with individuals and with schools.
He is thrilled to be making his UK theatre debut in Emerald Storm, the new music and Irish dance sensation by SlamDunk Entertainments.