Vocal trio Blake back at Horsham’s Capitol after working with Dame Shirley Bassey


Vocal group Blake launched into the New Year on the back of a happy Christmas collaboration with Dame Shirley Bassey – with the promise of more to come.

In the meantime, they play The Capitol in Horsham on Friday, April 1.

“It was an amazing experience,” says Humphrey Berney.

“We had met Dame Shirley for her 70th birthday, and then we bumped into her last year because we are both ambassadors for the Variety Club. We had a chat with her, and she asked us what we were doing. We said we were recording our Christmas album even though it was the middle of summer! Ollie asked if she would like to come and work with us. It was as simple as that.

“It was an interesting time for Dame Shirley. In many ways she felt her career had stopped, certainly live performances. She had done an album the year before and had loved the experience. And it just really worked us singing together. In hindsight, having spoken to her, she had never worked with a group before. She had done duets before, but this was something different, and she found it really exciting.

“Any collaboration is a stab in the dark, but our voices seemed to work really well together. And the great thing is we will be working together again in July. We have got the Saturday night at the Henley Festival. It’s really exciting.”

It’s also strange the way Blake, for years a foursome, became a threesome with the departure of Jules three years ago – and then became a foursome once again with Dame Shirley.

“That’s what makes being three of us so exciting. It is so much easier to do something like this. Definitely. Three is much better. There are certain bits of being a four you miss, particularly the vocal harmony element, but speaking to the fans who have known us as four and then as three, they like the fact that as three we come across much more as individuals rather than a big body of men singing. When there are three of you, your personalities can come across much more. The fans don’t just want a big singing machine. They want to know your characters more, and that’s really lovely that we can do that now.

“It was a great shock when we became a three. Jules went off to be an actor. He handed in his notice with Blake with two weeks to go because of the situation he was he when he was offered a job. We were pretty terrified when we first became a three, but we pretty quickly realised it could really work for us.

“Blake has been together now for nine years. I have been with Blake for seven years, and Jules left three years ago, and I think it is that element of unity as a group, which is why we are still here. Not many groups last nine or ten years in this business, but that’s because we are friends. We spend a lot of time with each other, and there are times when we would genuinely like to kill each other, but we are like brothers. However much we fight, we are fine, and the one thing that always brings us together is the music. We enjoy ourselves. And we are older now. Blake started when the boys were late 20s. Certainly for me, I had the most professional music experience before joining, but now I am just grateful that we can do what we do, that the fans are the great reward for what we do and that it is a fantastic privilege to do this for a living.”

Blake launched their first album in 2007, just six months after reuniting as friends on Facebook. The debut went straight to number One in the UK classical album chart and into the top 20 pop chart.

The public embraced the album immediately, with more than 100,000 copies being sold in just three weeks.

The music industry followed in early 2008, when the album received the Brit Award for Album of the Year.

Tickets for the Horsham show cost £21 from www.thecapitolhorsham.com or via the Capitol Box Office on 01403 750220.

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