Former X Factor and Eurovision star ANDY ABRAHAM talks to In2 about his new album, what it was like competing on a talent show and his new tour The History of the Big Bands, which comes to Southend next week...
by Michelle Norris
HE went from being ‘Andy the bin man’ to the ‘voice of the people’ and now Andy Abraham is swinging his way to Southend with his latest show The History of the Big Bands.
Since finding fame as the runner up on the X Factor in 2005 where he lost by just 1.2% in the public vote against Shayne Ward, Andy has gone on to represent the UK in the Eurovision Song Contest in 2008 and last year starred in the West End Musical Respect La Diva.
However, even with such success, the former bin man from Hertfordshire still can’t believe how far he’s come.
“When you’re doing something like X Factor, you don’t think about going from one place to the next,” he says. “But now, I’m just taking everything in my stride and enjoying the experience. I think it’s great that I got as far as I have and now I’m on my fourth tour, I’ve got my fourth album, so it’s just incredible.”
Indeed, with four albums, including his 2006 platinum selling debut Impossible Dream, Andy has recently released his latest offering Remember When…giving fans the chance to hear 10 personally chosen covers and two new tracks penned by Eliot Kennedy, a songwriter who has worked with the likes of Take That and Bryan Adams.
And, combining a book, CD and DVD, Andy is hoping that his deluxe release will deliver a package that downloads can’t match, helping to put the magic back into buying records.
“I remember when I was younger I used to wake up and look forward to going to my local record store,” says the 47-year-old. “But now, I think we’ve lost the personalisation of buying records and I really hope this helps to get people back out into the shops and buying them again.”
Now though, Andy’s on a mission to transport audiences back to the music of the Big Band era, leaving crowds swooning and crooning to the irresistible sound of swing with his new touring show The History of the Big Bands.
And after taking a smaller narrative role in the West End show Respect La Diva, the singer is looking forward to stepping back into the spotlight, leading the 13-piece big band with his powerful vocals, bringing the music from Harry James, Glenn Miller, Woody Herman, Duke Ellington and more back to life.
“I’m still doing a bit of narrating, but there are a lot less females involved compared to Respect La Diva – although I’m not sure if that’s a good or a bad thing,” he laughs.
“Swing is a style of music that is so respected and thanks to people like Michael Buble, there’s such an audience for it now. So we’re paying tribute to some of the greatest swing bands and I thought it would be nice to show a different side to me, a more reserved side.”
Indeed, known as a ‘soul man’, Andy admits that the tour presented a new challenge for his vocals – however it’s a challenge he’s revelled in.
“This is something that’s completely out of my comfort zone, because I’m a bit of a soul man,” he says. “But the tour has been going great so far and the response has been brilliant.
“Big band enthusiasts love my voice and the big band touring with me are really doing the music justice,” he adds. “It’s a very professional and polished performance, with a band and band leaders capturing the nostalgia of the swing era, hopefully with a voice to match it.”
The History of the Big Bands comes to the Cliffs Pavilion in Southend on 31 May. For tickets, call the Box Office on 01702 351135 or visit andyabraham.com.