Amore (Victoria Gray)
IN honour of Alvin Stardust, another musical graduate of the Minster School in Newark, it had been suggested (by me) that Victoria Gray adopt the name Victoria Starburst. “Oh I do remember that,” says the 24-year-old from Bilsthorpe of our conversation two years ago.
She’d never heard of the My Coo-Ca-Choo hitmaker. She still doesn’t know who he is.
But then again, Victoria moves in different music circles.
The blonde soprano was a member of Cantamus, the all-girl choir based in Mansfield, travelling to Germany, Italy and China, where, in 2007, they were crowned Olympic Champions. Victoria was also the first singer to win The Nottingham Young Musician Competition, in 2005.
She’s since been studying at the Royal College of Music in London, where she met the other three members of the new opera group, Amore, who signed a six-album deal earlier this year.
“It all happened through a really lucky break. Someone at the college was in a Starbucks next to the Warner offices. And he overheard a conversation between two senior managers from the label, saying they were struggling to find a new opera group. He reported back to us and told us to contact Warner, we auditioned for them and it’s been a bit of whirlwind ever since.”
The group was created by the four friends for the audition.
“Because we were mates and have sung together before we have a natural chemistry.”
Amore also features baritone Peter Brathwaite, tenor David Webb and soprano Monica McGhee.
In recent weeks the quartet have appeared on Sky News, BBC Breakfast News and been touted in the national press as: “the next big opera band” (The Times).
Their debut album, Stand Together, is due out next month on the same label as Green Day, Muse and Michael Bublé.
The album is produced by Simon Franglen, who has worked with Celine Dion, Whitney Houston, Katherine Jenkins, Rolando Villazon and Barbra Streisand.
In between promoting for that, Victoria has the final few weeks of her eight-year course at the Royal College of Music to finish.
They’ve already confirmed TV appearances during the Serenading Britain campaign including on BBC2, closing the Chelsea Flower Show, ITV1’s This Morning and Songs of Praise.
Excuse the cliché but it is a dream come true for her.
“When I was 15 and I saw the Classical Brits on television I vowed that by the time I was 25 I would be performing on it.
“And that looks like it will be happening this year.”
Back in Bilsthorpe, her parents are rightly proud.
“They’re ecstatic. And it’s great to be able to give something back to them because they’ve always put me first. All their hard work has paid for my singing lessons... and that’s paid off.”
Dad, an ex-schoolboy boxer and court usher, is retired, and mum works with the NHS.
“She runs her own business in coaching and therapy and has really helped me with any performance anxieties I’ve had. She’s come backstage and got me in a really positive mindset before a concert.”
Anxieties? You’ve been singing publicly since school.
She adds: “And that was some of the best training I ever had. But if those butterflies ever go, I think you’re in the wrong profession.”
Amore’s debut album Stand Together will be released May 28. For more about them go to www.weareamore.com.