Russell Watson has experienced the extreme highs and deepest lows in the rollercoaster we call life. I meet the down-to-earth Lancashire lad with a few nuggets of inspiration to share
From a bolt-cutter on a Youth Opportunities Programme to the People’s Tenor, Russell Watson has arguably done very well for himself. His journey, however, has not been one without turmoil.
‘The challenge for any artist is to achieve success which, in relative terms, is difficult. To sustain it is virtually impossible. You need to be able to do more than just sing and entertain. You need an amazing team and immense vision to constantly renew and evolve.
‘My career has spanned over 15 years and I’ve worked really hard for what I’ve got. Never giving up. It is a rollercoaster. When you are on the peaks you are on the top of the world and you can do no wrong. When you are at the lowest trough it is your last record, the end.
‘Look at the greats like Rod Stewart and Elton John, they disappeared from the public eye and are now back at the top of their game.
‘You have to be prepared for failure. But it’s how you come back from it that matters and builds the fabric of who you are. Take 6/7 years ago when I was having health issues [Russell had to undergo emergency surgery to remove a brain tumour]. It has changed me as a human being. I used to judge people by the words they said to me but it is the actions that are important. Believing is seeing. Plus, I would never have been this frank with a journalist before!’
As I interview Russell, England has unceremoniously been dumped out of the World Cup. An avid Manchester United supporter I ask what he thinks his team’s chances are this season?
‘Well they nearly imploded didn’t they? Going from Premiership Champions to mid-table. Not good. Sir Alex was a great leader and manager and a hard man to replace. He is super, super intelligent.
‘I don’t know van Gaal too well but hopefully Holland will have a good run at the World Cup and we can attract some good players on the back of it.
‘There’s no grass roots system any more. That’s where we got the likes of Ferdinand and Giggs, that awesome team of ‘92 – where are the kids coming through? Don’t get me started on that rant!’
To change the subject swiftly I ask who he would invite to his ideal dinner party? ‘Definitely Nelson Mandela, he’s an amazing human being. Frank Sinatra and Elvis obviously. My girlfriend, Louise. And Nat King Cole, only if he will sing though – his voice is my absolute favourite.’
RUSSELL ON KIRSTY:
Russell will be singing at Kirsty Howard’s Outstanding Achievement Award Ceremony in September. He has known Kirsty since the opening of the Commonweath Games in 2002. ‘I remember when I met her, I’d just finished recording for the Star Trek theme tune and I was asked to support Kirsty’s Appeal to raise £5million fro Francis House.
‘I get asked to support lots of charities and people and it’s important to me that I really know the people and where the money will be going so I headed to Francis House to meet the patients and team there.
‘As I was being shown around by the Sister we can into the Prayer Room and I asked what the big, thick book at the front was. The Sister replied ‘that’s our little angels’ book’ and there was page after page of children’s names. That stuck with me and I really wanted to get involved.
‘If you think about it Francis House is a kids’ hospice. Why do they need donations to run it? Shouldn’t it be subsidised?’
Russell is passionate about this point. As passionate as he is genuine in his friendship with Kirsty. ‘She’s amazing. Against all the odds of the medical fraternity she is here and I’ve never once heard her complain.
‘I can’t think of anyone who deserves honouring more, every year I look at the New Year’s Honours list and wonder where her name is. Maybe we should start a campaign?
‘I remember when I was in hospital with my second tumour Kirsty appeared one day at the end of my bed. With everything that she has happening in her life she came to see how I was. I was so full of emotion.
‘Last time we met up she was trying to show me how to download an App on my blackberry. It was Angry Birds I think. She prompting gave up trying to teach me and did it for me with three swift swipes of the keys and a ‘here silly’
‘Forget your Beiber’s of this world. When the word hero is flippantly banded about I reckon Kirsty is a genuine Mancunian hero, in the true sense of the word.’