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Blake are in tune with the social network

PUBLISHED: 11:21 18 April 2011 | UPDATED: 19:12 20 February 2013

Blake are in tune with the social network

Blake are in tune with the social network

Classical boy band Blake are coming to Bury St Edmunds this month. As Dave Gooderham discovers, their award-winning global success owes a lot to the world of social media

Classical boy band Blake are coming to Bury St Edmunds this month. As Dave Gooderham discovers, their award-winning global success owes a lot to the world of social media

They formed on Facebook and recruited a new member on Twitter. Meet Blake, a classical boy band for the new generation.
Their formation might have been unorthodox but it fits perfectly with the four men who have set about changing the perceptions of classical music.
For a start, they are all easy-on-the-eye think Daniel Craig rather than Paul Potts.
But good looks dont get you gold discs, a Classical Brit Award or half a million albums sold worldwide.
With their unique harmonic twists on anything from U2 to Simon and Garfunkel and their Rat Pack humour on stage, baritones Stephen Bowman and Jules Knight and tenors Ollie Baines and Humphrey Berney have taken the opera world by storm.
Now, sandwiched between a successful 25-date tour of the UK and plans to perform in Scandinavia, the United States and Canada later this year, Blake are coming to Bury St Edmunds St Marys Church on April 16 to be more precise.
For Humphrey, he had to deal with fame and success fast after he was recruited by the group two years after they were formed through social medias biggest player.
He explained: Blake has been together almost four years to the week and it has been an extraordinary time.
When the band was originally formed, it was not with the intention of getting a record deal or anything. They just wanted to maybe make some pocket money with a wedding here or there.
Stephen knew the guys through the college and they got reacquainted through Facebook. It was also through Facebook that they found their manager, Dan Glatman, who had previously managed Blue.
When Dan heard the boys, he marched them down to Universal Records and within 40 hours of forming, they had secured a five album deal. Since then it has just been an amazing rollercoaster.
An apt description for a group whose first album went straight to number one in the UK Classical Album Charts and sold 100,000 copies in its first three weeks .

It sounds a bit of a cliche but within an hour of meeting the guys, we found out we were very similar with a similar sense of humour

Humphrey joined the ride halfway through after original member Dominic Tighe left to pursue a career in acting.
Having already sung with the likes of Hayley Westenra, the decision to audition to become the new fourth member of Blake was a no-brainer.
Humphrey explained: I knew of Blake and I saw on Twitter that they were looking for a new member.
They had responses from all over the world including two girls from Thailand who perhaps didnt understand what the guys were looking for.
For me, it was a very exciting opportunity. Here was this group who had won a Classical Brit Award and had a number one album so these chances dont come up very often.
The music they did was very similar to what I was doing. And it sounds a bit of a cliche but within an hour of meeting the guys, we found out we were very similar with a similar sense of humour. And it was soon clear our voices would work together.
With a new man secured, Humphrey was thrown straight into a headline UK tour and the success hasnt stopped since.
This year alone, they are set to sign a record deal in the US and have just released a new single All of Me. But first more dates on the An Evening With Blake tour.
It is one thing playing in front of 80,000 rugby fans at Twickenham or performing at Dame Shirley Basseys $1 million 70th birthday party.
But it is quite another playing in the historic but more intimate setting of St Marys Church in Bury.
The support we have received globally has just been fantastic and experiences like Twickenham were great, remarked Humphrey.
But when it comes to the crunch, we are musicians and performers and I always find the small, intimate concerts very rewarding.
I think it helps our song choices as there are some big, emotionally-charged moments, like when we sing Bring Him Home.
A special part of this tour is the boys singing with local choirs something that Humphrey hopes will continue with the performance in Suffolk.
He explained the group all came from chorister backgrounds and that it was particularly important for them to use their concert to showcase local talent.
The quartet are very much good friends as well as band mates, but surely with the rigours of tours, there must come a time when they dont get on? What about when choosing what songs to perform there must be some conflict?
Yes and no, reveals Humphrey. At last a chink in their perfect armour, well almost.
We are all young guys with very different tastes in music. When it comes to choosing our repertoire, we all come up with a different list and then argue and decide in the pub, he joked.
The songs are very much a group decision and we always put our own twist on them, whether its With or Without You or Bridge Over Troubled Water.
This part is actually great fun. Being creative with the songs is one of the most enjoyable parts of the job, especially as occasionally the songs you think would work brilliantly as a ballad sometimes dont and vice versa.
So even when creative tensions could topple over, the four boys of Blake remain something of a kindred spirit.
Humphrey admits: We are all great friends and I think that really helps when you tour around the world and spend a lot of time together.
And when we perform, a lot of fans love the fact there is humour and interaction on stage between four great friends singing together.
This is something we especially wanted on this tour and I hope the people of Bury like it as well.


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