Blake (band)

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Blake
Blake (band).jpg
Baines, Bowman and Berney
Background information
Origin United Kingdom
Genres Classical, crossover
Years active 2007–present
Labels Universal Classics and Jazz;
"Blake Records"
Website www.blakeofficial.com
Members Ollie Baines
Stephen Bowman
Humphrey Berney
Past members Dominic Tighe
Jules Knight

Blake are a British vocal group. They are widely known as the group who formed on Facebook.[1]

Blake comprises three men whose friendship and musical careers date back to their school days. After reuniting via Facebook as adults they had recorded their first album after only six months. It was a phenomenal success going straight to No. 1 in the UK Classical Album Chart and taking the pop charts by storm. With over 100,000 copies of the album selling in just three weeks, the group earned their first Gold Disc. Recognised by the music industry for their talent, the album received the prestigious Classical Brit Award for Album of the Year in 2008 - a huge honour for a group that was still less than a year old. Their second album, And So It Goes, captured the hearts of a devoted and fast-growing fan-base of all ages. It went straight in at No. 12 in the UK pop charts and No.1 in several classical charts around the world. During 2008 and 2009 the group undertook triumphant tours of Australia and Japan, bringing their unique brand of music to an expanding global audience. 2009 continued to be a whirlwind year for the boys with a big UK tour, the creation of their new record label, Blake Records, and the release of their third album, Together, which enjoyed huge chart success. They finished the year with a 30-night sell-out tour in Scandinavia. 2010 proved to be another exciting year for Blake. Their original track, ‘Beautiful Earth’, was selected by the World Wildlife Fund as its Earth Hour Anthem, and their album Together continued its chart success, reaching No. 1 in the Australian Classical Charts and No. 1 in the South African Classical Charts during the FIFA World Cup. Blake took their ‘An Evening With Blake’ show to over 40 locations throughout the UK and the group traveled the length and breadth of the country, performing to over 50,000 people. After being invited to Buckingham Palace twice during 2010, Blake released ‘All of Me’ in 2011 - written by acclaimed songwriter Simon May (Eastender’s Theme) – to help the country celebrate the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton.

With over 90 live concert appearances in 2011, this was their busiest year yet. They made highly successful début tours to the Philippines and Russia and headlined the famous Henley Festival. Another high-profile performance that year was for Prince Albert and Princess Charlene of Monaco. By 2012 major tours took the band into two important new territories – China and the USA – and they also returned to the Philippines for 20 concerts there. In addition to long hours in the recording studio working on their fourth album, the group also found time for a major performance at the Olympic Stadium in the run-up to the 2012 Games.

In 2013 Blake launched their fourth album Start Over in the UK and the USA, revealing a new contemporary and original harmony sound. The year also saw performances at Wembley Stadium for the Rugby League Cup final, the group’s fi rst play-listed song on BBC Radio 2 (‘So Happy’), tours to Indonesia and Trinidad & Tobago plus the launch of their first Asia-only album. Towards the end of 2013, the band launched two charity singles. ‘You Raise Me Up’ was recorded with the soprano Camilla Kerslake and the ‘Sing To Beat Breast Cancer Choir’, made up entirely of women affected by the disease, and was released in October shortly before a 20 date UK tour where Camilla appeared as their guest artist. ‘To The Sun’ was released in November and debuted live in Trafalgar square as the anthem for the launch of the Walking With The Wounded South Pole challenge in the presence of Prince Harry.

In addition to their worldwide touring schedule, Blake also find time to perform and work as ambassadors for their many selected charities, which include, amongst others, Cancer Research, The War Widows Association, The World Wildlife Fund, Clic Sargent, The Prince’s Trust, Variety (The Children’s Charity), MIND, Starlight, The Royal British Legion and Help for Heroes. The band continue to do much work for military charities, most famously fundraising for, and performing at the opening of the Bomber Command Memorial in London for the Queen and 5,000 veterans in the summer of 2012. This year will see Blake tour Russia, The Philippines and South Korea alongside their tour throughout the UK taking them to new venues each month. At the end of 2014 Blake released their fifth album In Harmony to much acclaim.

2015 and Blake are back on tour throughout the UK, back to South Korea. Barbados and Russia along with a planned tour in Washington USA.

Current members[edit]

Oliver Baines[edit]

Oliver "Ollie" Baines (tenor), born 23 November 1982 in Oxford, received classical music training from the age of 8 as a chorister at both New College, Oxford and Winchester Cathedral. He was educated at New College School, an independent school in Oxford, to which he won a choral scholarship, followed by Marlborough College, an independent school in the market town of Marlborough, Wiltshire. He was a member of the National Youth Choir of Great Britain from 1999 until 2005. Aside from vocal training, Baines also learned the French Horn and the trumpet, playing in several orchestras, and is a pianist. He studied degrees in Music and Music Technology, and whilst at University sang with the choirs of Magdalene College, Cambridge and Trinity College, Cambridge before going on to study at the British Institute of Florence and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. He was formerly a Maths and English Tutor.[2]

Humphrey Berney[edit]

Humphrey "Barney" Berney (tenor), born Humphrey Berney on 26 July 1980, is a classically trained opera singer who joined the group in 2009 to replace Dominic Tighe.[3] He made his recording debut on Hayley Westenra's album Treasure. Berney was educated at Taverham Hall School, an independent school in the city of Norwich in Norfolk in eastern England,[4] followed by Gresham's School, an independent school in the market town of Holt (also in Norfolk), and completed his training at the Royal Academy of Music in 2005. He has sung throughout Europe. Operatic roles include Macheath (The Beggars Opera), Alfred (Die Fledermaus) and Monostatos (The Magic Flute) for Glyndebourne Opera and Garsington Opera. Barney also appeared in Channel 4's opera film View from the Moon.[5] Following a search on the social networking website Twitter, Barney joined the group in February 2009.[3]

Stephen Bowman[edit]

Stephen Bowman (bass-baritone), born 22 August 1980 in Bath, was educated at St. Stephen's Church of England Primary School, a voluntary aided school in the city of Bath in Somerset in south-west England, followed by Prior Park College, a Roman Catholic independent school (also in Bath).[6] He won a coveted place at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama at the age of only 17.

Bowman was born to a British opera-trained mother and German ex-rockband guitarist father. Although proclaiming at age five to family friends that he wanted to be a ‘rockstar’ when he grew up, it wasn’t until his late teens that he found out that he could actually sing. Without any traditional vocal training, Bowman started performing with indie and jazz bands in Bath, before being convinced to train towards an audition for the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. At seventeen, he became the youngest baritone ever to win a place at this prestigious college. After three years of studying classical voice and electronic music at Guildhall, he left to pursue a career in sales and marketing with a number of international technology firms, whilst writing music in his home studio in the evenings with help from friends in the pop group Tears for Fears. Bowman completed his first studio album of songs, entitled Bamboo Haze in the summer of 2004. The album received great interest from independent record labels and gave Bowman his first entry into the UK music industry. In his spare time he is a keen motorcyclist, skier and snowboarder[2]

Previous members[edit]

Dominic Tighe[edit]

Dominic Tighe (baritone), born 20 April 1983 in Devon, is a talented singer and established actor. He was educated at Newton Ferrers Primary School in the English south-west coastal city of Plymouth in Devon, and became a chorister at Buckfast Abbey School, a former independent school in Buckfastleigh (also in Devon), which closed in 1994, followed by Downside School, an independent school in Stratton-on-the-Fosse in Somerset (also in south-west England), where he recorded three albums at Downside Abbey. He sang at the Queen's private 80th birthday celebrations, and has also sung for Prince Edward and Nelson Mandela. He was a member of the National Youth Theatre for seven years, before studying at the Central School of Speech and Drama. After graduating, Tighe was acting for two years, working with Alan Ayckbourn, Edward Hall and Kevin Spacey, among others. He came straight from a world tour with the Old Vic to record Blake's debut album.[2]

In 2009, Tighe announced that he was leaving the band to return to his acting career.[3] In 2010 he appeared in Trevor Nunn's revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Aspects of Love at the Menier Chocolate Factory, and in 2014 he appeared in Sunny Afternoon, a musical based on the career of The Kinks, at the Hampstead Theatre.

Jules Knight[edit]

Main article: Jules Knight

Discography[edit]

  • Blake (2007) #18 UK[7]
  • And So It Goes (2008) #14 UK[8]
  • Together (2009) #38 UK[9]
Blake
Blake (band 2).jpg
Studio album by Blake
Released 5 November 2007
Genre Classical crossover
Label Universal Classics and Jazz
Producer Nick Patrick
Blake chronology
Blake
(2007)
And So It goes
(2008)

Blake (2007)[edit]

Following numerous television appearances, and singing at venues as diverse as Twickenham Stadium and Waterloo railway station, the group were caught up in a "whirlwind of public attention". Celebrities such as Keira Knightley, Will Smith, Ewan McGregor all proclaimed their support for the band, and Hans Zimmer asked them to sing on the soundtrack to The Da Vinci Code movie sequel, Angels and Demons, after hearing their arrangement of his theme for Gladiator.[2][10]

Their debut album was released on 5 November 2007 and immediately went to the top of the UK Classical Album charts, and reached the top 20 of the UK Pop Album chart. The "polished fusion" of classical and pop, as heard in arrangements of the Beach Boys' hit "God Only Knows", the themes to Gladiator, 1492 Conquest of Paradise and several classical favourites recorded with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra proved a huge hit, and the album went Gold within three weeks. Early in 2008, the album was nominated for a Classical BRIT Award and was named "Album of the Year" in May.[10] It was only the second time in nine years that the award for best album, as voted for by listeners to Classic FM, was won by a debut album (following Russell Watson's The Voice in 2001.[11]

Tracklist[edit]

  1. "Yo Te Voy Amar (I'll Make Love To You)"
  2. "In Paradisium (Gladiator)"
  3. "Moon River"
  4. "1492 Conquest of Paradise"
  5. "God Only Knows"
  6. "I Knew I Loved You (Deborah's Theme)"
  7. "Hallelujah"
  8. "Ashokan Farewell"
  9. "Celebration"
  10. "Vide Cor Meum"
  11. "Swing Low Sweet Chariot"
  12. "E Sara Cosi"
  13. "Jerusalem[disambiguation needed]"
  14. "Toglimi Il Respiro (Take My Breath Away)"
  15. Bonus Track: "In the Bleak Midwinter"
And So It Goes
And so it goes.jpg
Studio album by Blake
Released 29 September 2008
Genre Classical crossover
Label Universal Classics and Jazz
Producer Stephen Lipson
Blake chronology
Blake
(2007)
And So It Goes
(2008)
Together
(2009)

And So It Goes (2008)[edit]

Blake's second album contains a wider range of material than the debut album. There are no film score arrangements this time, but tracks range from "Chasing Cars" by Snow Patrol, through to the arrangement of "Sancta Maria" from the opera Cavalleria Rusticana and the negro-spiritual "Steal Away". Knight explained that the album has "a different sound to it, it's more contemporary, more pop-py. Combining both classical sounds and pop sounds is a winning combination, and we’ve taken it a lot further on this album."[10]

Tracklist[edit]

  1. "Look to the Mountains"
  2. "And So It Goes"
  3. "Chasing Cars"
  4. "Wild Mountain Thyme"
  5. "Because We Believe"
  6. "Up Where We Belong"
  7. "Steal Away"
  8. "Heaven Can Wait"
  9. "Closest Thing to Crazy"
  10. "Fantasia Prelude"
  11. "Nella Fantasia"
  12. "Time to Say Goodbye"
  13. "Sancta Maria" (Intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana by Mascagni)
Together
Together (Blake).jpg
Studio album by Blake
Released 12 October 2009
Genre Classical crossover
Label Blake Records, EMI
Producer Nick Patrick
Blake chronology
And So It Goes
(2008)
Together
(2009)

Together (2009)[edit]

The third album, Together, and the first to include Berney, was released on 12 October. The album again contains tracks from several genres, including opera, musical theatre, film themes and pop songs. The album was recorded with the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra with arranger Paul Bateman, once again produced by Nick Patrick and Adrian Munsey. The album was nominated for "Album of the Year" at the 2010 Classical BRITs. The album was released on the band's own independent label, Blake Records, distributed by EMI Label Services.[12]

Tracklist[edit]

  1. "With or Without You" – U2
  2. "Bring Him Home" (Les Misérables)
  3. "Bridge over Troubled Water" – Paul Simon
  4. "Abide with Me"
  5. "La Califfa" – Ennio Morricone
  6. "She" (featuring Julian Smith, saxophone)Charles Aznavour
  7. "I Vow To Thee, My Country" – Gustav Holst
  8. "She Was Beautiful (Cavatina)" – Stanley Myers
  9. "Ave Maria" – Bach/Gounod
  10. "Nessun Dorma" (Turandot) – Giacomo Puccini
  11. "Unsung Hero" (featuring Caroline Redman Lusher) – Denise Rich
  12. "Titans" - Vangelis
  13. "When a Child Is Born" – Johnny Mathis (Christmas bonus track)[13]

Special Edition (remixed and remastered), released 22 March 2010.[14]

  1. "Here's to the Heroes" - John Barry (Band of Brothers theme)
  2. "Voice of an Angel"
  3. "Beautiful Earth"

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Walshe, Barbara, Blake hitting the high notes", www.coutts.com. Retrieved on 4 March 2009.
  2. ^ a b c d Blake Biography, www.classicsandjazz.co.uk. Retrieved on 4 March 2009.
  3. ^ a b c Walker, Tim Blake find a new tenor on Twitter, 26 February 2009. The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved on 4 March 2009.
  4. ^ Old TH Pupil Humphrey Berney Judges Singing Competition Accessed 5 May 2011
  5. ^ Humphrey Berney, Tenor. Retrieved on 4 March 2009.
  6. ^ "Stephen comes home in glory after Brit Award". classicalx.com. 26 September 2011. Retrieved 14 October 2011. 
  7. ^ [1]
  8. ^ [2]
  9. ^ [3]
  10. ^ a b c Official website:Biography, www.blakeofficial.com. Retrieved on 4 March 2009.
  11. ^ "Classical BRITs 2008 come to a close...", 8 May 2008, www.classicalbrits.co.uk. Retrieved on 5 March 2009.
  12. ^ Classical crossover stars Blake sign sales and distribution deal with EMI Label Services, 3 September 2009. Retrieved on 19 February 2010.
  13. ^ Together:Blake, Amazon.com. Retrieved on 2 August 2009.
  14. ^ Together (Special Edition), www.amazon.co.uk. Retrieved on 19 May 2010.

External links[edit]