Artist picture of Russell Watson

Russell Watson

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English tenor Russell Watson comes from a working-class background in the north of England and, although he received no formal training in singing, enjoyed performing from an early age. Watson left school with no qualifications. With a wife and young family to support, he started work as an apprentice bolt cutter in Salford. He spent his evenings singing in pubs and bars and was persuaded by an audience member at Wigan Road Working Men's Club to add the operatic aria 'Nessun Dorma' by Puccini to his repertoire. The reaction he received encouraged him to add further classical arias to his repertoire. In 1990, he entered Piccadilly Radio Manchester's talent contest 'Search for a Star' and went on to win.

He was invited to sing the National Anthem at the Rugby League Challenge Cup Final at Wembley Stadium in 1999, and following this sang for the crowds at two Manchester United fixtures: for the last match of the Premiership season between Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur and at the UEFA Champions League final between United and Bayern Munich. He came to the attention of Decca records and, in 2000, released his debut album 'The Voice', featuring a wide range of cover versions mostly with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. The overwhelming success of the album led it to top the UK Classical Charts for 52 weeks and he became the first British male to simultaneously top the UK and USA classical charts.

'The Voice' was swiftly followed by 'Encore' in 2001 and 'Reprise' in 2002. In 2004, 'Amore Musica' introduced a more modern flavour, although it still featured some classical tracks including an arrangement of 'Nimrod' from Elgar's 'Enigma Variations'. There was a delay in the release of a further album when Watson was taken ill and diagnosed with a pituitary tumour. Following surgery to remove the tumour, he returned to his musical career, releasing two albums in 2007, firstly 'That's Life' followed by 'Outside In'. By the time the latter was released, Watson had undergone further emergency surgery from which he fully recovered to release his last album for Decca in 2008, 'People Get Ready'. This eighth album was a selection of easy listening and soul music standards. Also in 2008, Watson appeared as a judge on BBC One's 'Last Choir Standing'. The following year he embarked on a UK tour with backing from the choir Sense of Sound who he met during the recording of 'Last Choir Standing'.

2010 saw Watson return to a more classical based album 'La Voce' as he signed for Sony. This album mostly consists of Italian-language songs and arias recorded with the Roma Sinfonietta. Inspired by the 2012 Olympics, his next album 'Anthems: Music to Inspire a Nation' is a selection of inspirational songs such as 'Swing Low, Sweet Chariot' and a cover version of Queen's 'We Are the Champions'. In 2013, Watson's tenth UK top 20 album was released; 'Only One Man' was released on the Sony label, as was 'True Stories' in 2016. He has also released the albums 'In Harmony' (2018) and 'Back in Harmony' (2019) in collaboration with the popular Welsh singer Aled Jones.