Who is Alfie Boe? If you haven’t yet heard of this amazing singer then you really need to get all the gossip from us right here! Recently having starred in the 25th Anniversary edition of Les Miserables seems to have propelled Alfie into the spotlight more than ever for 2011 and we find out all about the man himself, his career and his new album ‘Bring Him Home’ featuring songs from Les Mis, Alfie singing some of his own favourite songs and many exciting duets.
ALFIE BOE BIO
Not many teenage boys in the fishing port of Fleetwood, Lancashire, dreamed of a career as a singer. But not many teenage boys in Fleetwood grew up with a Dad who played his favourite operatic arias to his nine children during the family Sunday lunch.
ALFIE BOE preferred football, girls and rock music. But something must have rubbed off from those afternoons around the dining room table because today, at the age of 37, Boe is Britain’s favourite singer.
Growing up the youngest in a large Catholic family in the British seaside town of Fleetwood near Blackpool, Alfie was encouraged at school to get a trade. “At school my options were limited to just the armed forces, or engineering”, he recalls. “A lot of my friends joined the army or went to work on the oil rigs.” At the age of 11, Alfie took a Saturday job at the local garage to earn extra pocket money, not because his family struggled, but because he was eager to work from an early age. “We never wanted for anything,” he stresses. “We always had food on the table and my Father worked hard for his family.”
At 14, he joined a local amateur operatic company, encouraged not so much by the chance to sing, as his sister’s promise that it would be “a good way to meet girls”. He had never seen a live musical show until he starred in one, singing tunes from the big West End shows. His first one – the showstopper from Les Miserables that forms the title of his new album: Bring Him Home. At 16, having sung his way through the shows, he joined the chorus of amateur productions of Carmen and Il Trovatore in Preston. Already, locals with an ear for talent began to suggest that the talented teenage tenor might even go professional. “I really wanted to,” says Alfie. “But I didn’t know how.” Instead, at 17 he began work as an apprentice mechanic in the local TVR car factory, where he spray-painted cars as they came off the production line. To relieve the boredom, he would often sing along to the radio, for some of his work mates, while at weekends he performed on the club circuit, singing ballads, show tunes and pop standards. “I even entered a few competitions”.
At the time Alfie had no idea where his musical future, might lie. “It could have been pop,” he admits, “or even musical theatre. I had no idea I could possibly become an opera singer – probably because of my background.”
Yet that’s exactly what happened, thanks to a customer at the TVR factory who worked in the music industry and heard Alfie’s already-impressive tenor. The mystery man – who Alfie has never yet managed to track down since that day – told him the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company was auditioning for a tour and that he should apply.
The apprentice mechanic bought himself a copy of The Stage and Television newspaper for further details and made the journey to London to join other hopefuls – and got the job. For 12 months he toured the country singing Gilbert & Sullivan, before winning a scholarship to the Royal College of Music in London.
Supporting himself with jobs that included a stint doing security at London rock venue, the Shepherds Bush Empire, Alfie graduated and continued his training at the elite finishing school of the National Opera Studio before taking an odd detour into rock’n’roll, teaming up with Lancashire band The Clint Boon Experience as “Opera Dude” on their acclaimed albums. But he was soon drawn back to the classical world, and returned to his operatic studies by enrolling on the Royal Opera House’s Young Artists Programme. Six months into the two-year course, which required its students to attend every performance at Covent Garden, came the moment that defined his career. He heard that Oscar-nominated film maker Baz Luhrmann, director of the film “Moulin Rouge” was holding a London audition for his New York production of La Boheme. “I was at a five-hour Wagner production at the Royal Opera House and I sneaked off during the forty minute interval and literally ran across Waterloo Bridge to the audition,” he recalls. “Then I ran back afterwards – and got back into my seat ten minutes into the second half.”
His decision to leave the course to star on Broadway did not go down well with the opera establishment and was a difficult decision to make. After the nine-month Broadway run finished, Alfie decided to stay on in America and tour with Boston Pops, singing musical theatre songs from the Thirties and Forties. Travelling the length and breadth of the USA, he discovered the country.
In 2006 Alfie released his debut album, Classic FM Presents Alfie Boe. It was followed in 2007 by two more albums, Onward, featuring works by British composers John Rutter and Karl Jenkins, and La Passione, an album of his favourite Neapolitan songs. The same busy year, Alfie toured the UK with the Fron Male Voice Choir and was nominated for a Classical Brit, where he lost out to Paul McCartney.
In 2008 he embarked on his first solo tour of the UK, was nominated for two more Classical Brits, and returned to the Coliseum, where he had already appeared in Midsummer Night’s Dream and Kismet, in The Merry Widow and Der Rosenkavalier, before a going back to the Royal Opera House in Elektra. In 2009 he released his fourth album, dedicated to his late father’s favourite composer, Franz Lehar: Love Was A Dream, and made festival appearances all over the world. He also starred in a WNO revival of La Traviata and reprised his role as Rodolfo in Sir Jonathan Miller’s ENO production of La Boheme.
Highlights of 2010 include two operas for ENO – The Pearl Fishers and Katya Kabanova and Romeo et Juliette at Covent Garden. In October, at the request of Sir Cameron Mackintosh, he took on the lead role of Jean Valjean in the sold-out 25th anniversary concert performance of Les Miserables at the O2 Arena in London.
Alfie and his actress wife, Sarah, live in London with their two-year-old daughter Grace.
‘BRING HIM HOME’ – TRACK BY TRACK WITH ALFIE!
1. Bring Him Home (from Les Miserables) – This is the big iconic song from Les Miserables and a close one to me. It’s the first song that I ever sang in public when I was a 14-years-old in an amateur company in my home town of Fleetwood. Three years ago I sang it at the Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall.
2. Pure Imagination (from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory) – This is the song when Willy Wonka walks into the chocolate factory and lets everyone go wild. I think it would be really cool to start off a concert with this song.
3. Come What May (from Moulin Rouge) – I chose this because of my connection with Baz Luhrman, and because it was a good opportunity to sing a duet with Kerry Ellis who has a beautiful voice.
4. On The Street Where You Live (from My Fair Lady) – Everybody loves this! It’s an iconic musical theatre song and I used to sing it when I was a teenage boy. It’s the scene where Freddy has spotted Eliza Doolittle at the race track and waits for her outside Henry Higgins’s house.
5. We Have All The Time In The World – This is from the James Bond film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. It’s incredibly sad because it comes just after Bond’s new bride, Diana Rigg, dies after being shot in the Aston Martin. We chose it because we were looking for something different: a song that was not musical theatre and had a different angle.
6. The Impossible Dream (from Man Of La Mancha) – This is my big moment with Matt Lucas! It’s a great song from a musical about Don Quixote that’s been used in commercials quite a lot. I don’t think it’s been done as a duet before but it works really well.
7. Hushabye Mountain (from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang) – This is the other song I chose for my daughter Grace, it’s a beautiful lullaby.
8. Tell Me It’s Not True (from Blood Brothers) – This is actually a female song but I was determined not to let that stop me covering it because it’s a wonderful song from a great show. It comes at a very sad point at the end, so it’s very emotional, with a choral feel.
9. Some Enchanted Evening (from South Pacific) – This is from another of my favourite musicals. I’ve loved it ever since I saw the film as a kid and I think the score is incredible. I’d like to dedicate it to Sir Cameron Mackintosh, because I know it’s one of his favourite shows too.
10. As If We Never Said Goodbye (from Sunset Boulevard) – This is another female song, sung by the Norma Desmond character who was played onstage in the West End and on Broadway by Elaine Page. But It’s an incredible song and I don’t think it’s been sung by many male performers
11. If I Loved You (from Carousel) – This is from yet another of my favourite shows! I’m such a big fan of this area of musical theatre and it is a wonderful song to sing and very classically orchestrated.
12. If I Ruled The world (from Pickwick) – I think people associate this song with Harry Secombe who did a very good version of this which was a hit for him in 1963 and a great song.
Girlie Gossip Exclusive, Quickfire Interview With Alfie Boe!
1) Hi Alfie, thanks for taking the time to answer some of our questions. A lot of our readers will probably now have seen you in the latest Les Mis 25th Anniversary DVD playing the lead role of Jean Valjean, but how and when did your operatic career actually come about, and was singing a career path you’d always wanted to persue?
ALFIE: Glad you all enjoyed the Les Miserables DVD it was a great concert and a wonderful evening to be a part of.
My career as a singer started back when I was Nineteen years old when I auditioned for a company called the D’oyly Carte after taking advice from friends and a customer who’s car I was working on when I worked as a mechanic. He overheard me sing and said i had a good voice and that I should try and make it in the music world. You never know who’s going to be listening.
2) Did you do anything specifically to prepare to the role of Valjean?
ALFIE: Read the Victor Hugo novel and grew a beard.
3) You have just released an album ‘Alfie Boe – Bring Him Home’ what are your personal favourite tracks and why?
ALFIE: Pretty much all of the songs on my new album are my favourites but if I had to choose one, I think it would be Bring Him Home as this song means so much to me and has made such an impact to my career.
4) You and Matt Lucas seem to have struck up a firm friendship, with him even appearing on your album. Can we expect any further collaborations from the two of you?
ALFIE: I know Matt and I are going to be friends for life and who knows what ideas and trouble we can get up to.
5) When you’re not busy singing and playing the lead in hit musicals, what do you like to do in your free time?
ALFIE: I’m a bit of a family man and spend most of my time being tormented by my daughter Gracie, she’s two years old now and has me wrapped around her little finger but she’s my little belle!
6) Is there anyone you would like to duet with or work alongside that you haven’t yet been able to?
ALFIE: There are many people in this business that I would love to collaborate with on an album, eventually I would like to try my hand at writing some of my own stuff and to work alongside someone else who’s known for their writing would be a wonderful opportunity. I’m a huge fan of Classical Rock Music so to duet or to collaborate with someone like Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin fame would be fantastic.
7) Can you share any other exciting projects, plans or updates that we can expect to see from you this year?
ALFIE: Well we are at present trying to fit in the diary some surprise performances to showcase my album live. We are trying to make it work for April or May this will fit nicely in the diary just before I start back in Les Miserables in June. There are other things on cards at the moment but can’t say too much just yet.
8) Lastly, we are very pleased to hear that you will be reprising the role of Jean Valjean in the West End during 2011! Can you give us any more information on this? Good luck and we’ll be sure to come along and watch one of your performances and report back to readers later this year!
ALFIE: Yes I will be going back into Les Miserables in June for a six month run so book your tickets now. I just want to thank all my beautiful fans for all your support over the years and to all those that have just started to follow me, welcome and I hope you enjoy my music and performances because it’s for you my fans that I do this. Alfie xx
Thanks so much to Alfie Boe for taking time out of his busy schedule to chat to us. We hope that you all enjoyed his answers! Please note, this interview is © Girlie Gossip.Com – Retransmission, modification and usage of any kind should be approved by Girlie Gossip editors and the appropriate credit given. Thankyou for reading!
Girlie Gossip Review ‘Bring Him Home’ the new album by Alfie Boe.
Last but by no means least, we give our thoughts on Alfie Boe’s new album – Bring Him Home. As fans of Les Mis and musical theatre ourselves, we must say, you are in for a treat if you are yet to listen to this fantastic album!
You can find the track listings above, outlined by Alfie.
We’ll cut straight to the chase and say that the first time we had heard of Alfie Boe was when we saw him perform at the 02 for Les Mis 25th Anniversary. The performance was mesmerising, heart felt and utterly brilliant and since then we have become Alfie Boe fanatics here at GG HQ!
The album contains a wonderful mix of songs from musical theatre, movies and some good classics, meaning that it really does hold something for everyone. Personal highlights for us, of course had to be the title track ‘Bring Him Home’ but also ‘Come what may’ featuring the amazing Kerry Ellis. There is not a bad song on the whole CD and each note is delivered with passion and perfection, as fans have come to expect!
Highly recommended as one of the best albums of 2011 and Alfie is definitely one to watch this year, mark our words!!