Baines, Bowman and Humphrey with Shirley Bassey
|Labels||Universal Classics and Jazz;|
Blake are a British vocal group. Blake comprises three men whose friendship and musical careers date back to their schooldays. After reuniting via Facebook as adults they recorded their first album in six months. That album. Blake, went straight to number one in the UK Classical Album Chart and into the Top Twenty Pop Chart. Their career took off, a series of highlights, some of which are recorded below.
That first album, Blake, received the Classical Brit Award for Album of the Year in 2008. Their second album, And So It Goes, peaked 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 tours of Australia and Japan. 2009 continued with a tour, the creation of their new record label, Blake Records, and the release of their third album, Together. They finished 2009 with a 30-night tour in Scandinavia.
In 2010 'Beautiful Earth' was selected by the World Wildlife Fund as its Earth Hour Anthem, and their album Together reached No. 1 in the Australian Classical Charts and No. 1 in the South African Classical Charts. Blake took their 'An Evening With Blake' show to over 40 locations throughout the UK, performing to over 50,000 people. They were invited to Buckingham Palace twice.
Blake released 'All of Me', written by Simon May. They had over 90 live concert appearances, and début tours of the Philippines and Russia. and they headlined the Henley Festival. They also performed for Prince Albert and Princess Charlene of Monaco.
They toured China and the US for the first time and 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 performance at the Olympic Stadium in the run-up to the 2012 Games.
Blake launched their fourth album Start Over in the UK and the USA. The year also saw performances at Wembley Stadium for the Rugby League Cup final, the group's first 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 it 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.
After a series of tours and concerts, Blake released their fifth album, In Harmony.
Blake again toured throughout the UK, and they played at the famous Holders Festival in Barbados. They funded their first independent album, A Classic Christmas, on PledgeMusic.
The 2015 Christmas Special
Blake teamed up with Dame Shirley Bassey for a version of The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire) which appeared on their first ever Christmas album. Dame Shirley explains how the collaboration came about: "Blake sang Moon River at my 70th birthday party, and then we met again at the reception of (the charity) Variety's 70th anniversary six months ago. Ollie mentioned singing a Christmas song together, and I said I've never done a Christmas song before!"
The Anniversary Album
In Spring 2018 Blake celebrated their 10th anniversary with a brand new album, recorded in collaboration with the Central Band of the RAF and singers from the Miltitary Wives Choirs. The thirteen track album was recorded in various locations around the UK, notably RAF Northolt and Sonica Studios. With big arrangements, full orchestra and choir, the album recreates the lush classical-crossover feel of their debut album 'Blake' from 2007, but updated for the trio harmony sound they apply now. The album was partly funded by Blake fans from all over the world via PledgeMusic, with a percentage of all funds raised going to the RAF charitable trust. This is Blake's first classically eligible album since the release of 'Together' in 2009 on Blake/EMI records.
Blake are also ambassadors for certain 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, performing at the opening of the Bomber Command Memorial in London for the Queen and 5,000 veterans in the summer of 2012. In June 2020 Blake will be performing a concert in aid of The Rose Berney Memorial Fund, at Bracon Hall, Norfolk. The performance which is being organised in association with Norfolk Community Foundation is raising money for mental health support and suicide prevention in Norfolk in memory of group member Humphrey Berney's sister.
Oliver "Ollie" Baines (tenor), born 23 November 1972 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.
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. 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, 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. Following a search on the social networking website Twitter, Barney joined the group in February 2009.
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). He won a coveted place at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama at the age of only 17.
Bowman was born in the city of Bath to an opera trained mother and a rock guitar playing father, who both tried their best to interest a young Stephen in their preferred genres. Stephen didn't actually realise he could sing until after his voice broke and the head of music at Prior Park College heard him singing a school hymn at double the volume of all the other students. Accepting the chance to audition for a place in the schools chapel choir, Stephen started training as a baritone with vocal coach Rachel Bevan. Whilst developing as a young classical singer, Stephen was then pulled towards blues and rock music, joining bands in the Bath area. Around the time of his A-levels he began song writing and creating electronic music in a home studio, learning the production and song creation tools he'd later use in the industry. In 1997 Stephen was granted a place at the prestigious Guildhall School of Music & Drama (at 17 years old, the youngest ever Baritone to be granted a place at that time). Moving to London and training for three years at GSMD college, Stephen left before starting his 4th year to undertake an experimental recording project with Sony Classical records called Coeur de Lion - a classical 5 piece male singing group that covered light opera classics. After this project, Stephen decided to move back to Bath to take a side step into the world of computing & marketing (indulging his openly geeky side) whilst continuing to song write and record music in the evenings. In 2005 he finished a collection of songs with the help and guidance of previous members of Bath synth-pop group Tears for Fears. Stephen continued to write and perform whilst building up his own marketing company, before bumping into Ollie Baines in early 2007. A discussion about forming a group was had and the search was on for likeminded friends to join them. Stephen has been a founding member of Blake since April 2007 and continues to sing with them all over the world. In his spare time he is a keen motorcyclist, skier and technologist. In 2016 he started his own VR company, producing unique experiences based on music, gaming and relaxation.
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.
In 2009, Tighe announced that he was leaving the band to return to his acting career. 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.
|Studio album by |
|Released||5 November 2007|
|Label||Universal Classics and Jazz|
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 film sequel, Angels & Demons, after hearing their arrangement of his theme for Gladiator.
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. 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).
|And So It Goes|
|Studio album by |
|Released||29 September 2008|
|Label||Universal Classics and Jazz|
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."
|Studio album by |
|Released||12 October 2009|
|Label||Blake Records, EMI|
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.
Special edition (remixed and remastered), released 22 March 2010.