Alfie Boe, the car engineer turned classics singer, has been the best-kept secret within the classical world for several years and is now releasing his second album. ‘Onward’ which offers a rousing collection of inspiring songs.

To the Northern musician’s great delight as a huge Beatles fan, this stunning album was recorded at Abbey Road, with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and conducted by John Owen Edwards. FemaleFirst were able to chat to the charismatic tenor about Meryl Streep, murder mysteries and the awards on his mantelpiece! Why pick the title of Onward for your album – what’s the reason for that?The reason why I chose “Onward” – well it’s for a few reasons to be honest. There’s one in particular – because it’s my hometown’s motto. I wanted to sort of do a bit of a plug for my hometown of Fleetwood. To me it’s also an uplifting word; it gives people a bit of strength and a bit of security. Also as well, I feel it represents my career – the whole way it’s always been for me from day one. I’ve always been trying to go onward to the next thing. Whenever I’ve finished a job it’s always been on to the next step. (Laughs) It’s a funny thing that – for me personally I never really want to look like I’ve made it or look at the stage where I’m at and think, “yeah I’ve made it, this is it I’m done.” Because then you’ll stop working and stop putting the effort out there to keep yourself going further. Pushing further. I think really the day that I’ll feel I’ve made it is the day when I retire. When I finish, that will be my sort of goal in way. I believe you’re going to be involved in a concert to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the hugely successful TV show Inspector Morse. Are you looking forward to that particular event?

Yeah – that’s going to be held on April 19th. I’m at the Royal Albert Hall doing a concert for Classic FM. It’s live on ITV3 with myself Leslie Garratt, Willard White, and it’s all music dedicated to Inspector Morse. He was into classical music – he liked it a lot. The Albert Hall is a great place to be – with all the people in it it’s incredible. It’s got quite an atmosphere.I used to watch Inspector Morse. (Laughs) I suppose I have I’ll have to educate myself and check up on it all. I like some murder mysteries and stuff but not in a big way. I don’t take notes or anything. (Laughs)

You’re going to be in the stage production of Kismet later in the year apparently. Do you prefer doing solo concerts or starring in big musical productions?

It’s going to be at the English National Coliseum starting on the 23rd of June, I think, so that should be fun. I’m looking forward to that too. That’s with Michael Ball. I find being in an actual production for myself is something that I’ve done for years. It’s something that I’ve always been doing since about 14 years – I’ve always been in a production or an opera. So I like that aspect of performing. It’s an important side to my job and I suppose secretly I do like that sort of side to the job more because I get to play a character and you’re in a whole story. The sets are cool and the costumes sometimes are cool unless you’ve been told to wear tights or whatever. That’s not very cool. (Laughs)

When you appeared in Baz Luhrmann's “La Boheme” there was a lot of commotion about it wasn’t there – why was it so contentious do you think?

It was a long time again. I couldn't really figure why people thought that – why it was so controversial. I think the thing about it was that maybe we were going from the opera houses to the mainstream audience - taking it to Broadway basically. That was all we did really. But controversial wise it was the same opera that any opera house would play. We didn’t do anything differently it was an Italian – same music. So I don’t really understand why they got so upset about it really. (Laughs)

Kylie Minogue had a small part-singing in the film Moulin Rouge for Baz. Would you consider doing something like that with him in the future?

Yeah, absolutely. If there was another opportunity to work with Baz then I would jump at the chance. He’s great and he’s a genius when it comes to telling a story. I really like his direction and I like him as a person. He’s a cool guy.

Premium rate telephone polls have been a hot topic in the news recently – have you ever dialled one up to enter a competition or to kick somebody off a reality TV show.

That is a really cool question! You know, I don’t think I ever have. To be honest, it sounds ridiculous but I don’t really watch that much TV. I try and listen to more music more than anything. But I’ve never voted for anybody on Big Brother or the X Factor or anything like that. Pretty boring answer but no. (Laughs)

You were awarded the title of “Karaoke King” in a pub at one point – what classic track always gets you up singing?

I’m so proud of that I really am. I was at the Royal College of Music and I came back to London after being up at home in the North for the weekend. All my friends were stood outside the Halls of Residence where I was living and said “Look Alfie –there’s a karaoke night going on around the corner in the pub. Why don’t you come along?” I was a bit homesick, fed up and bored so I thought ok, I’ll go along and try and cheer myself up. I went along and ended up doing a couple of songs. Then I realised it was a competition and I’d got through to the semi. I won the semi final, got through to the final and ending up winning it and being awarded the title of West London Karaoke King of 1995. That particular night I sang Frank Sinatra’s version of New York, New York. But I do like a bit of Elvis, I must admit; I think it’s a really cool thing to sing on a karaoke night – Suspicious Minds and all that sort of stuff. It’s not anything operatic, although that’s because they don’t normally have it (Laughs)

Did you get a gong for your mantelpiece?

It’s right next to my Tony Award yeah (Laughs)

Mother’s Day is coming up this Sunday – what’s the best present that you’ve ever given to your mum?

I try and get her some flowers. I think this album is a pretty damn good present really (Laughs) To get her an album of my own stuff is a nice thing to do. I think I made her something out of a cornflake packet one year. I forget what it was, but it was something like a mock up countryside scene or something. It looked a complete mess but I was really proud of it.

Would you like to have children with your partner Sarah in the near future?

Yeah, in the future I would like to have a family, I really would. I think that’s something that is important to my wife and me.

I believe you’re good friends with Meryl Streep and Cyndi Lauper. Everyone has a public perception of these people but can you tell us what they’re really like?

Yeah, Cyndi Lauper and a few other people. I was in a bar and I met a producer of La Boheme and he asked me to get up and sing. So I did, I basically got up and Cyndi was there. She came along and had a listen and we had a nice chat. It was fun.

It’s actually Meryl’s daughter that we’re good friends with. I did a concert for Meryl last year in New York and we got to know each other. She’s a really nice lady – a lovely person and I’m always willing to help out if she ever needed me to do anything again for the charity in question. She’s really sweet.

Has Ms Streep ever said she’ll come to see one of your other performances this year?

Yeah she has. If she’s ever in the country or the town where I’m performing in at the time – she has said that she’ll always try and get along. She is a very busy lady though.

Yeah hasn’t she just agreed to star in the film production of Mamma Mia – you could offer her some singing tips?

Yeah that’s right, she is looking at that. She’ll be cool it’ll be interesting. She’s got a really nice voice- a really sweet voice. We’ll be able to have a chat about that – absolutely.

You used to work with cars before you followed your melodic dream – if you were a vehicle what would you be?

A 1968 Dodge Charger. There you go! The car they drive around in, in the movie the Dukes of Hazzard.

How do you feel about people comparing you to Russell Watson- does that bother you?

Not particularly. I believe that there’s room for everybody in this business. There are certain things that Russell does as a performer that I don’t do and vice versa. We’re quite different. But, no, I don’t mind the comparisons because that’s what people do- they compare one comedian to another and so. I can’t stop them from doing that, but we’re performers in our own right.

Something I have noticed you’re very enthusiastic about is your charity work…....

I do like to do a lot because I think it’s really important to get your message and the charity’s message across. If everybody took part in charities, I think the world would be a better place. The work I try and get involved in helps educate children in music and the arts because after all they are the next artists of our generation and the next audiences. They might not want to be on the stage, or be a painter, dancer or a singer, but they might want to appreciate it so we have to educate them as an audience. As a future audience – because if they aren’t there then our job isn’t worth doing.

I also do work for breast cancer research and a few other things as well. I would be interested in singing for the troops if I had the opportunity. To be honest I think the troops over there are looking for someone a little bit better looking than me. A female singer would go down a bit better than I would I think. (Laughs)

You’ve been talking about the importance of educating future audiences – so audience response in a concert matters to you more than record sales then?

Yes. I can say that without a doubt. The audiences are what you really perform for and if you’re not getting a good reaction from the audience then you’re doing something wrong. That’s what the whole job's about to be honest and I always want to please them. With my records I’m trying to please an audience there too. The listener at home with my album. If they’re getting enjoyment from it then I’m doing the same job, as I would be on stage so that’s good.

Do you believe in ghosts and the like?

Oh – I believe there’s something more than this world yeah. I’m a Roman Catholic and was brought up as one, so I do believe there is life after death. There is something more to this than we make out. If anything spooky has happened I haven’t been aware of it (Laughs) There could be plant pots flying behind my head all the time and I’ve not been taking notice because I’m in my own world. (Laughs)

What’s so special about these songs on the album – do you have a favourite?

I like so many on the album – if I liked one in particular I don’t think I would be doing the whole album justice, because I have to treat every song equally. Secretly I do like You’ll Never Walk Alone because I’m a Liverpool supporter and Living Prayer is a lovely one as well. I like singing that. But no all of them have been chosen carefully and I enjoy each one individually.

You mentioned Liverpool FC then – do you play for a footie team yourself?

I don’t no. I used to play a little bit, but I don’t get much time now to be honest.

Have you anything else in the pipeline?

Next week I’m singing for Prince Charles at a charity event. I’m doing a private concert for him then. So that will be fun at Clarence House.

Is Camilla going to be there as well?

I don’t know. I hope so – maybe. I’ll give him a ring and find out (Laughs)

Onward is available in stores around the country from the 12th March.

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