Speaker / Host
Russell Watson is a world-renowned singer, fondly known as the ‘People’s Tenor.’ From his humble beginnings as a nuts-and-bolts factory worker in Salford to his rise to ultimate stardom, Russell is a much-respected motivational speaker. He is also available as a host and live performer and is available for both corporate and private events.
About Russell Watson
Russell Watson has sold millions of records worldwide and has performed for some of the most influential people of our time including The President of the United States, the Emperor of Japan, Tony Blair, Sultans, The Beckham’s and even the late Pope John Paul II who requested a private audience with Russell at the Vatican in Rome.
Russell Watson staged a concert at Windsor Castle in the presence of Prince Charles and Camilla Duchess of Cornwall. Following this, Prince Charles requested Russell’s services as an ambassador for his coveted charity The Princes Trust.
For Russell, success was not always on the cards as an inevitability. As the son of a factory worker, Russell found himself following in his father’s footsteps working 12-hour nightshifts in a nuts-and-bolts factory to earn a living. It was only upon entering a local radio talent competition and beating 400 other contestants that things started to look up. Russell decided to pursue his ultimate passion, music! Russell spent the next few years completing his musical apprenticeship in working men’s clubs across the North West.
Russell’s big break came in May 1999 when he was invited to Old Trafford to sing before Manchester United’s Premiership-winning match. His performance of the World Cup anthem “Nessun Dorma” received a standing ovation.
To quote respected sporting journalist, Paul Hince, present at the game: “You know when you have just witnessed something special when even the cynical hacks in the press box rise to their feet and join in the ovation. I swear, even the pigeons on the roof of the stands flapped their wings”. This triggered a series of sports-related performances.
Furthermore, He was invited to perform so often that one journalist was quoted as saying “there is only one person to have appeared more times at Wembley this year than David Beckham, and that is Russell Watson!” The sports theme has stayed with Russell and in 2002 he was invited to perform at the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games in front of a worldwide television audience of 1 billion people.
Russell has collaborated with some of the biggest names in showbusiness, including Meatloaf, Lionel Richie, Paul McCartney, Lulu, Alexandra Burke, Sean Ryder and the late great Luciano Pavarotti.
The Decca Music Group signed Russell to a five-album deal and in September 2000, his debut recording The Voice was released to huge critical and public acclaim. This mix of repertoire along with Russell’s majestic vocal performance delivered an immediate impact.
The Voice went on to break worldwide records by holding the No.1 position in the classical chart for a year, only to be knocked off by his follow up release, Encore. It broke further records by quickly reaching the No. 1 spot in the US, making Watson the first British male to simultaneously occupy the top of both the UK and the American charts. This multi-million-seller went on to win two Classical Brit awards for Best Classical Album (voted by the British public) and Best Classical Debut album.
Encore followed Russell’s innovative trademark mixture of popular Italian arias with pop classics (including songs recorded for the Hollywood blockbuster Captain Corelli’s Mandolin and the theme tune to the Star Trek TV series Enterprise). It went multi platinum in the UK (where it was at No. 1 in the classical charts for 30 weeks), multi platinum in New Zealand, Ireland and Gold in numerous territories around the world. Russell won a further two Classical Brit Awards for Best Classical Album and Male Artist of the Year.
Watson’s third album Reprise, released in 2002, went Platinum in the UK within two weeks, reaching No. 9 in the pop charts and No. 1 in the classical charts.
Over the years, Russell has been no stranger to career and life-threatening scenarios. One of these life changing experiences occurred just after his third album when he began experiencing problems with his voice.
“It was probably one of the single worst days of my life when I went to see the specialist. I told him I was having problems with my falsetto. I could sing chest notes, but I knew I was bypassing the problem. He stuck a pipe up my nose and down my throat and said you’ve got a lump on your vocal chord and that they were going to have to surgically remove it. He was totally honest with me and said that I could lose some of my top register, he couldn’t give me any guarantees. I walked out of the place in tears.” Fortunately, the operation was a complete success and Russell returned to full health.
The next album, Amore Musica, was extraordinarily beautiful. It included lyrics by Dianne Warren and Gary Barlow. This was a record that Russell felt truly reflected his state of mind at that time saying, “this is a record about love, music, peace, happiness and hope”. The record-buying public seemed to be inspired.
In 2006 Russell released The Ultimate Collection, a compilation of his greatest hits so far. With a debut at no. 2 in the national album charts, his highest position to date, and a fifth number one in the Classical charts it really proved Russell is here to stay. In the same year he embarked on a new challenge in the form of BBC televisions smash hit show Just the Two of Us. Partnered with UK TV actress Sian Reeves (Cutting It, Holby City, Where the Heart Is) the two of them sang their way to an overwhelming victory on the show. Again, Russell is aiming to break new ground and force the boundaries. The new record is a collection of some of his lifelong favourite songs. Recording at the legendary Capitol studios in Los Angeles seemed the only way to do these songs justice by bringing them back to their original home. With a collection of classic songs including “Strangers in the Night”, “When I Fall in Love” and “Born Free” Russell truly has encapsulated the magic of the golden era of music within this record.
On 24 October 2007, it was discovered that there had been a regrowth of his pituitary tumour and bleeding into his brain. He underwent emergency surgery before undergoing an extensive rehabilitation programme, including radiotherapy. His sixth studio album, Outside In, was released on 26 November 2007.
Once Watson finished radiotherapy in 2008, he decided to embark on a return to music. He soon found that his treatment had given him not just a fresh outlook on the world, but a new, deeper, richer voice. “The tumour could have been growing for 10–15 years in my nasal cavity, so when I had cut it out I went from a V8 to a V12!”
On 22 November 2010, Watson released his new album La Voce his first album since overcoming brain cancer.
More recently, Russell has appeared on reality shows such as ‘I’m a Celebrity Get me Out of Here!’ where he moved his campmates to tears with his operatic performances.
Russell is a highly skilled speaker, host presenter and live performer.