Talking Music: On Song with Ross Leadbeater

Abertillery singer-pianist and musical director Ross Leadbeater is kicking off a three-date South Wales tour next month at Newport Riverfront performing songs from his solo release The Great British Songbook.

“The whole project started for me a couple of years ago when I did a concert in the West-End celebrating the music of Ivor Novello,” Ross tells Andy Howells,

“Novello was the Andrew Lloyd Webber of his period, but if you asked people to name some Ivor Novello songs today they’d probably look at you blankly.”

Ross, a former member of Only Men Aloud, hit upon the idea of developing a show around bringing the talent of the British songwriter to the forefront, thus, The Great British Songbook was born. The show has since been performed around the country and most recently as a series of seventeen shows at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

“The Edinburgh Fringe was one of those things I wanted to do for a long time,” says Ross, “There was an audience there to hear good songs and there’s talk about going back next year as well. “

Ross will be giving his own unique piano-jazz style twist to a cross range of music from Noel Coward to Coldplay at Newport Riverfront on October 1.

“The premise behind the songbook is reminding people about these songwriters that have been forgotten and to celebrate them more,” he says, “I always do a version of Downtown which goes down a treat. Everyone knows Petula Clark had a hit with it, but not everyone knows it was written by Tony Hatch and that he was British and also wrote the themes for Neighbours and Crossroads.”

Welsh singer, Sophie Evans will be Ross’s special guest for the show, “I’ve known Sophie for years, as we’ve worked together in the past through Only Men Aloud and theatre work. Sophie does a lovely version of John Lennon’s Imagine and we are currently talking about some Elton John and Adele numbers as well as some musical theatre material.”

Taking part in the show also will be Newport’s Defying Gravity Musical Theatre group. “That’s quite exciting and a different element to what we’ve done before,” he says “When I’m not performing and been an MD I’m coaching and teaching kids. I’m going to do a workshop with them on the morning in which they will be working on a couple of songs which they will perform in the evening.”