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Simon Beck's The Courage of a Dreamer: 5th Anniversary Re-Release.

Simon Beck's wonderful debut album, The Courage of a Dreamer, is celebrating its 5th anniversary with a wonderful re-release on October 12th (available to purchase through Simon's website).

For those of you who aren't aware, Simon is a multi-talented gent who has worked in the West End and beyond. Strings to his bow include conducting, musical directing, singing, mentoring and being an all-round lovely man. He has worked on shows including the Miss Saigon, Sunset Boulevard, Disney's Beauty and the Beast, Acorn Antiques, Rocky Horror Show, Sweet Charity and many more. 

Simon's album includes lesser-known tracks from the world of American theatre as well as the Oscar-winning title song from Beauty and the Beast and Dancing Through Life from the hit musical Wicked. It's a wonderful re-imagining of some tunes you'll know and some that you won't.

I was fortunate to speak to Simon about the album's release;

Q: With the album due for re-release why should people listen to it? 
A: As we’ve all been separated during Covid times this is an album all about connection. I call it my ‘meditation album’. It’s my personal celebration of musical theatre. Featuring my favourite theatre composers, Stephen Schwartz (The Prince of EgyptWickedGodspell), Stephen Flaherty (RagtimeAnastasiaSeussical), William Finn (FalsettosA New BrainElegies). As well as my most favourite cabaret composer, Amanda McBroom (Bette Midler’s The Rose). And in this current struggle to support artists in all genres, I am so proud that this album was made with a team of musicians and singers from the West End, produced by engineers at Angel Studios, artwork by graphic designers featuring images of my local nature spot, Draycote Water. Plus, it shares my story through life!  

Q: How do you reflect on the album after 5 years? 
A: I am so proud of this album! It’s interesting how critical one can be at the time of recording, but with the passage of time one can listen anew with a fresh perspective. I knew absolutely nothing about producing a record. I learned how to contract the musicians thanks to the Musicians Union. The recording studio, Angel Studios in Islington (sadly no more,) was incredibly supportive of me being a ‘young’, up and coming artist. We came in to record immediately after Shirley Bassey and her team, how intimidating! But the Angels treated us exactly the same. They were special. I even had a film crew document the recording process. (The videos are on my YouTube channel!) To play the piano and sing with these musicians, who are also my friends, was such an experience! The song choices remain as important to me now as they did back then.

Q: Was an album always something you dreamed of doing?
A: Not at all. I always sang and performed as a child growing up. I studied acting and singing through my early-mid twenties, but it was always clear that I would work predominantly as an instrumentalist. It was Dr Paul Whittaker OBE (founder of the charity Music and the Deaf) who gave me my solo cabaret debut in 2000. I was working in the pit of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (Dominion) at that time, so I was very lucky to have three of their rhythm section in MY band! They also feature on the album. I couldn’t resist the opportunity to record a new orchestration by Neil Rutherford of that Oscar-winning song, Beauty and the Beast with those original musicians!
The songs on this album were first performed in a live show in 2005 at the Jermyn Street Theatre in London. Audiences were asking for my CD, so it became clear I ought to have one! 

Q: How did the album originally come about? 
A: Following such kind compliments from the live audiences, I felt it was time to explore making a record. I was also leading some big musical productions in the West End and on tours (Rocky Horror & Spamalot) and felt I would be heading a cast album before too long, but I didn’t want to be in the studio not knowing the first thing about the process. I started Courage as a learning project for myself really, but because of my fantastic team I was so happy with the results that I decided to release it.

Q: What’s your favourite track?
A: The Human Heart (Once On This Island) is probably my favourite as it was the inspiration for the whole album. The idea that we really are all connected, “Part of the Human Heart”. It’s so important, especially right now! And I must mention Just A Boy because it was written especially for me as a tribute to the wonder that is Dr Paul Whittaker OBE. I am so proud to call him a friend. He has done so much for the deaf community to enable them to share in the joys of music in all forms. He was the first deaf student to study music at Oxford!

Q: Will we get a follow-up album? 
A: I certainly hope so! Probably something lively and upbeat! ‘Courage' is the meditation album, full of life lessons and spiritual helpers.

The album which has had fantastic reviews including theatre director Ken Alexander who said - "I’d encourage anyone with an interest in musical theatre to buy this album. Simon is a wonderful musician. I loved his vocal and instrumental arrangements as well as the thoughtful and insightful interpretation of a terrific songlist" and Cello Diva, Sally Maer - “Beautiful, heartfelt singing of fabulous musical theatre songs” and has been played on Sunday Showtunes, Crush of the Week on Mark Petty's Midday Mixtape and on The Curtain Up Show.

Featured singers on the album include Justine Balmer (ClassicFM featured soprano), Claire Parrish (Miss Saigon, Mary Poppins), George Tebbutt (Les Miserables, The Barricade Boys) and Samuel Morgan-Grahame (Amélie)

The Courage of a Dreamer is available to order now through Simon's website (click here). I highly recommend you purchase, you'll not regret it.

If you want to catch Simon in person he is next singing and playing the piano with Sophie-Louise Dann (Made in Dagenham, The Girls, Lend Me A Tenor and Bend it Like Beckham) in her new concert May I Have A Moment? at the EM Forster Theatre in Tonbridge on October 24th 2020 and at the Everyman Theatre in Cheltenham on November 7th 2020. 

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