Admired by a host of recognised names including; Prince Charles and The Duchess of Cornwall, Pope Francis, Dame Helen Mirren and David Foster, English siner Carly Paoli is one of the most lauded young singers in Italy at the moment.
Following the release of her debut album this summer, Carly has attracted attention from BBC Radio 2 and performed on ‘Friday Night is Music Night’ as well as being interviewed by Steve Wright and Clare Balding.
Recently taking centre stage on Sky Arts with the broadcast of ‘Music For Mercy’, a unique concert held at the ancient Roman Forum headlined by Carly and featuring Andrea Bocelli, with special guests; Elaine Paige, David Foster, The Tenors and Giovanni Caccamo.
We’re very honoured that Carly has found time to speak to us.
Congratulations on your debut album Singing My Dreams which reached number 2 in the classical album charts. How did you react when you heard the news?
It was absolutely unbelievable. Everyone says not to expect too much when you’re a new artist, but we had 9 weeks at no.2 in the Official Classical Charts which was amazing. On top of that, David Mellor gave the album a rave review in the Mail on Sunday. As if that wasn’t enough he then made a video which was posted on the Classic FM website which was more than I could have ever imagined. I’ve read some of his other reviews and I’m very proud to have received such lovely words from him as he is such a highly respected critic in the classical world. It’s a huge honour.
Is this your first tour in the U.K.? What are you most looking forward to about life on the road.
This is my first UK tour and the thing I’m looking forward to most is sharing my music with a UK audience. The album means so much to me, particularly as I have some original songs on there. I wrote the lyrics to 3 of the songs on the album – Memory of You (based on the theme from Legends Of The Fall), Se Tu Fossi theme from Cinema Paradiso (for which I added the English lyrics) and Why – all of which I perform regularly. This album is a very special project which I have invested in emotionally and it is an honour to be able to share my music with a British audience. This is especially important to me as I’ve done such a lot in Italy, but not as much in the UK which is my home.
You’re Collabro’s special guest for this tour- what can we expect from the show?
Collabro are superb. It’s very exciting as they sing a lot of musical theatre material – the sort of music I have loved since I was a child. The songs on my album are a different sort of music perhaps but I think we share the same belief in the lyrics of a song. To me lyrics are the most important thing. Collabro and I share a lot of the same musical passions which is wonderful. It will be a unique experience singing with 4 men instead of 1 tenor which is what I have done in the past.
Do you feel ready for that Carly?
I’m always ready.
Any tips for singers on how to keep their voices in good condition after multiple performances?
Rest! The key thing is to rest and sleep when you get the chance. If you don’t get an opportunity to sleep then keep your voice rested. Even though I am often singing music that is very familiar to me and is well placed in my voice, I still try to not overuse it the night before and the day of a performance. My family are used to me being a mime artist on those days. Warming up is very important and I usually drink warm water with manuka honey.
What song from Singing My Dreams are you most excited about performing?
‘Memory of You’ because it’s the first song I tried writing lyrics for. I wrote the lyrics 3 years ago after the death of my grandmother. It was a difficult time for me and for my whole family. However, her loss gave me a new way to express myself which I found through writing lyrics. I wrote the words on a flight home, coming back from Puglia (South of Italy) after visiting my Italian family.
The music for ‘Memory of You’ is James Horner’s theme for the film Legends Of The Fall. James is my all-time favourite film composer. He worked on Titanic, Avatar, and so many more incredible film scores and I think he was a musical genius who composed fabulous music. Such beautiful soundtracks.
The first time I performed ‘Memory of You’ was for HRH the Prince of Wales at Windsor Castle. In a horrible coincidence, the very next day James Horner died in a plane crash. We had been robbed of hearing more of his beautiful music and talent. My love for the song grew and the meaning and story behind the music meant more than ever. I became emotionally invested in the song.
In order to include the song on the album we had to contact the Horner estate and his family. So, began a two-year struggle, as we tried to get across my love and admiration for the song to his family. He had never thought of the music having lyrics so I had to get the family’s approval. At the end of those two years my lawyer told me to forget it. But I was determined so, I wrote a letter to James’ family. Two days later I received a reply approving my lyrics and sanctioning the inclusion of the song on my album. It felt like a small miracle.
We saw a concert on Sky TV earlier this year where you were performing with Andrea Bocelli. How did this come about?
He became a friend when we first performed together 2 years ago at the Ancient Roman Baths of Caracalla. The concert was put on by UNESCO at this historic site where the Three Tenors – Pavarotti, Domingo and of course Carreras – performed together for the first time. The atmosphere was incredible. Andrea then invited me to perform with him at his Celebrity Fight Night in Florence, and then to join him on stage at the O2 Arena on his UK tour. He is a legend with an incredible voice. He has such a strong instrument and it’s always a joy to sing with Andrea.
You also have a duet with José Carreras and you’ve performed with him several times in Italy. What did that mean to you – performing with one of the greats of classical music?
When I was studying at the Royal Northern College of Music his voice was one of the ones I listened to again and again. I know he is a tenor but I just loved his artistry and commitment. When I was at the Conservatoire I would be given a new song and I would of course work on it with my teacher but I would always watch other performances of the same material on YouTube. I was sent José’s song ‘En Aranjuez Con Tu Amor, ‘and thought it was glorious. To then have the opportunity to perform with such a master of singing and one who is known all over the world was an incredible honour. Something I could never have dreamed of when I was a student.
Speaking of José Carreras, you seem to have a lot of celebrities in your fan base including Dame Helen Mirren and David Foster to name a few. How does it feel to have that level of celebrity endorsement?
They are celebrities certainly but you know, beyond that, we are the same. We all have our passions whether it’s acting, writing music or through singing, which we want to share with a wider audience, I’m in the sort of world where all the time I have the opportunity to meet people who are just as passionate as I am. That love, that enthusiasm for your art form means that you have a lot in common with these incredible people, which is a humbling experience as they are masters of their craft and incredibly talented. It’s a privilege as a young artist just starting on her journey to be able to talk to and learn from them.
You are the ambassador for the luxury women’s watch company Bédat & Co. How did that come about and what are your responsibilities as an ambassador?
A few years ago, a representative of the company saw me perform. She explained the unique story behind Bédat and how Madam Simone Bédat challenged the traditional male dominated watch industry. She designed a luxury brand timepiece that was by a woman and designed for women. Because the company celebrates the creativity of women, they started a programme devoted to ‘Women of Character.’ They felt that I was such a woman and I grabbed the opportunity to become a brand ambassador. I love the style and designs, which to me are very art deco and I feel they are stunning pieces of art which are beautifully crafted. Bédat celebrates other women in the arts which reflects Madame Bédat’s philosophy. My first appearance as ambassador was also my debut as an international artist as I performed at David Foster’s Foundation Miracle Gala, in which I shared the stage with Jennifer Hudson and Steven Tyler.
After the tour with Collabro where can people see you perform?
I have two lovely events coming up. First, I am singing at a Carol Concert in Holy Trinity Church in Sloane Square which is being recorded by Classic FM. Then, and I am so excited about this, I am doing my own concert at Cadogan Hall. This will take place on the 15th February 2018 and I will be joined by the acclaimed conductor and composer, Steven Mercurio. I had the privilege of working with him initially in Rome when I performed in a concert ‘La Dolce Vita,’ devoted to Italian film music. There will be special guests, a big orchestra and I will be singing songs from my album and other music that I love. This is an event I am so proud of and one I am looking forward to immensely. The chance to do my own concert with my own music and to share it with a British audience is just the most thrilling thing. It’s also the day after Valentine’s Day so how romantic is that?