Ex-Kingstonian and opera star Stephen Bowman talks to The River about his huge success, including at the Classical BRIT Awards.
Charismatic Blake opera singer Stephen Bowman, 33, speaks candidly about his rise to fame all the way to the group’s up-and-coming fifth album making it an exciting new era for the group.
Before fame graced Mr Bowman, he lived a quiet life in Kingston performing as a jazz singer after studying classical singing performance at the acclaimed Guildhall School of Music and Drama.
Life changed quickly for the young bass-baritone when he joined the Blake quartet in 2007 after meeting up through Facebook He and fellow singer, Oliver Baines, 30, both attended Guildhall together and later kept in touch through social media.
“The first time I knew of Blake was through Oliver Baines as they needed someone to rehearse with. It went from something fun for a couple of weekends to a full-time job,” said Mr Bowman
“Without risk we aren’t pushing ourselves”
Blake has often been placed in the same genre as Simon Cowell’s operatic pop group II Divo. They still consider themselves a British vocal group who sing a mixture of classical, pop and contemporary songs, focusing on making their voices harmonise as one.
Since launching their first record deal with Universal Music Group in 2007, they feel the biggest issue associated with being ‘classical’ is that students sometimes assume that they are social outcasts rather than a vocal group. Bowman claims too many pop artists hide their classical credentials because they think it makes them less cool to the masses.
He said: “It’s always fun presenting a new body of work, even with the evolution of the sound you’re known for. Some risk is involved, but without risk we aren’t pushing ourselves.”
Close chums of Prince William and Kate
Blake is also well known for their close ties with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge after some members attended Marlborough College and St Andrews.
Mr Baines, who attended Marlborough College with the Duchess and her sister, told People magazine in March 2012: “She was very charming, very pretty and she was known as being very polite.”
During the royal engagement in 2011, Blake and the award-winning songwriter, Simon May, recorded the song All of Me which was considered by the public to be the royal couple’s official wedding song. Sadly fourth member Jules Knight, 31, bid farewell to Blake earlier this year after the release of their fourth album Start Over and now plays Doctor Harry Tressler on the TV drama series Holby City.
A new era for Blake
Stephen Bowman, Humphrey Berney and Oliver Baines foresee a bright future as the three begin work on their fifth album. Their vision is to take more risks and to push themselves into a new direction since becoming a group of three.
After one Classical BRIT award and selling over a million albums all worldwide they feel humbled that their music has reached out to such a large younger audience.
He said: “To get an award in front of people confirmed just how much I wanted to be in the music industry.”
Blake are currently touring throughout Indonesia until May.