Following his critically acclaimed West End concerts, Ross Leadbeater, the award winning Welsh singer-pianist and musical director, celebrates his musical favourites when he brings The Great British Songbook to Blackwood Miners Institute on May 18.
From Ivor Novello to Andrew Lloyd Webber, Lionel Bart to Leslie Bricusse, with The Beatles, Take That, Coldplay and Gilbert & Sullivan - there is something for everyone in this not-to-be-missed opportunity to enjoy the massive hits and forgotten gems.
Ross shot to fame in 2008 with the Classical Brit Award winning group Only Men Aloud, having released two albums with Decca Records, achieving worldwide record sales of over 300,000 and performing alongside artists such as Shirley Bassey, Katherine Jenkins and Josh Groban.
He regularly appears on BBC Radio including BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio London and recently on the BBC Radio 2 music documentary Keep The Home Fires Burning. His television appearances include The Royal Variety Show, Proms in the Park, and The One Show. Andy Howells recently put questions to Ross about the forthcoming show and his new EP.
You’re going out on tour with your debut EP, what does that feel like?
It’s amazing to be finally releasing my debut EP and taking my favourite British songs all around the country. Of course, it’s particularly great to be kicking it all off here in Wales.
Can you give us some background to the EP what's it called and what was the inspiration behind it?
It’s called Great British Songbook and it’s a very personal collection of some of the great British songs of all time including Pure Imagination, Keep The Home Fires Burning and Ed Sheeran’s Thinking Out Loud. It all started with the music of Ivor Novello - I put together a concert in London two years ago and the project has just developed from there.
Of course, people will be familiar with you as a member of Only Men Aloud, so what can we hope to see when we see you live on stage?
Well, unlike the days of Only Men Aloud where we played to huge arenas and concert halls, this is a much more intimate experience - just me and my piano. It’s up close and personal with some special guests too.
You clearly have a love for great songs, who do you enjoy listening to?
I’ve always enjoyed great songs in all styles of music really, from classical to musical theatre, pop/rock to jazz. My mum and dad always enjoyed listening to music and we had a wide and varied record collection in the house so I guess I get it from them.
Are there any particular pieces you are looking forward to performing in the forthcoming shows?
Oh, thats a difficult one…there are so many to chose from but I guess I am looking forward to performing the new version of Novello’s Keep The Home Fires Burning and also an original song which was written for me called Piano For Sale. There is a real variety of songs in the show, and my personal favourites are the ones from the golden age.
What are you looking forward to most about touring?
It’s exciting to be meeting fans of my music all around the country. Since starting the concerts in London two years ago - I have been connecting with fans on social media so it’s finally a chance to get out on the road and meet them.
What other projects are you working on at the moment?
I guess I’m lucky in that I have a dual career as a musical director so I get to work with lots of talented and amazing artists and on a wide variety of projects. Anything from theatre productions to radio shows, television programmes to film. It’s good to be busy I guess- and this year I’m heading up to the Edinburgh Festival in August so that is exciting!
Ross Leadbeater’s Great British Songbook is available for digital download on iTunes from May 18th and will be available in physical form on Amazon and on his UK Tour dates from 4th June. The tour kicks off in Blackwood on 18th May at 7:30.pm. Check out www.rossleadbeater.com for more details.
- A version of this Q&A appeared in The South Wales Argus entertainment supplement The Guide on Friday May 13, 2016.