The Soul Legends show is heading to the Empire Theatre, Liverpool, as the 2019 UK tour continues. It promises to be an evening of soul classics including Respect, Knock On Wood, In The Midnight Hour, River Deep Mountain High and Three Times a Lady. And special guest for the evening is the award-winning Lemar who will be singing Dance (With You), If There’s Any Justice, It’s Not That Easy, and more, from his own catalogue of hits.
There is something special about playing to audiences in the NorthLemar
There is something special about playing to audiences in the North, Lemar told me recently, and he is particularly looking forward to returning to Liverpool.
“We’ve been up in Newcastle and Scotland, and they’ve all been extremely good. When you’re in London they say the further North you go, the better the crowds and it’s proving to be that way. The tour has been great, so far, I’ve really enjoyed it. The crowds have come out in full force and they are really up for it and singing along. It’s been really good.
“Liverpool, on May 12th, I’m really looking forward to that one. I’ve played Liverpool many times before. Oh, it’s always great. The noise and the crowd participation goes up another level. There’s such a lot of musical history in Liverpool. Last time I was up there it was amazing and I can’t wait to get back.”
Over the past 15 years Lemar has established himself as one of the finest soul voices Britain has produced although, after years of trying unsuccessfully to break through, he very nearly turned his back on music altogether. The young singer had toured as a backing vocalist for the likes of Destiny’s Child and Usher but without the solo success he was looking for.
“I was about to give up and go back to university,” he explained. “I had been trying to get signed for about 8 years but there was no joy. Every time I was about to give up I would be offered another (touring) job, and that would push on for a year or two, but eventually I thought the time had come to pack it in. I was on one last tour when I saw an advert for (BBC TV’s) Fame Academy and that’s what made me turn and think ’You know, I could give this a go.’ I tried it and finally got a break. I was very fortunate.”
Lemar made the final of the show’s first series in 2002, finishing third to David Sneddon. He caught the eye of Beverley Knight who invited Lemar to duet with her at a concert in London where his performance helped to earn him a recording deal with Sony Music.
Two Brit Awards, three MOBO Awards and over two million album sales later, Lemar was delighted to be asked to join the 2019 Soul Legends tour.
“When they asked me to do this tour it slotted in nicely with what I’d just done,” he said. “I thought that’ll be cool. My most recent album was called The Letter and celebrated all the soulful people that interested me when I was growing up, Someday We’ll Be Together, Crazy Love and some classic stuff.”
Those soulful influences were to be found among his parent’s record collection. “Oh yes, my dad was a big fan of Al Green, mum always liked Marvin Gaye. Ray Charles was in there, too. I always had a fascination with voices, the sound of their voices always really impressed me. From a young age Al Green and Marvin Gaye really caught me. Sam Cooke and Donny Hathaway, their songs were simple but soulful. There are some classic voices there!”
With those influences, no wonder Lemar is enjoying the current Soul Legends tour, and he was full of praise for those he is working with on the show. “I’m not with my own band but they say variety is the spice of life. We have a house band and the musicians and the singers are all really great.”
The Soul Legends show visits the Empire Theatre, Liverpool, on Sunday 12 May.
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