Blue Eyed Girl interviews . . . Dan and Laura Curtis

(From @DanLauraCurtis via Twitter)



Daniel and Laura Curtis are two of the most talented and versatile songwriters currently working in the industry today. Hailing from beautiful Wales, they are two of the biggest supporters of maintaining the legacy of the Great American Songbook, and are probably best known for writing “A Miner’s Song” in support of the Welsh National Mining Memorial – which featured such amazing talents as John Owen Jones, Paul Potts, Michael Sheen and Jonathan Pryce among many others.

Now, they are lending their support to this year’s Children In Need campaign. They have written the beautiful “Why Am I Falling“, along with the phenomenal Ramin Karimloo, who also performs on the track. Daniel and Laura are also launching the Your Voice competition, which aims to find the West End talent of tomorrow.

I sat down with Daniel and Laura to chat about their biggest influences, what it’s like to work with Pudsey Bear, and what the future holds . . .

Tell us a little known fact about yourself – something we wouldn’t know by looking at you.

 
I am a distant cousin of the legendary wartime composer Ivor Novello who from a song writing point of view is one of my heroes. Laura was one of the first ever girl choristers at the incredible Lincoln Cathedral.

Did you always know you wanted to be a songwriter?
 
I have always written lyrics and poems and made up little melodies from a young age. I was brought up by my grandparents so the music that I heard as a child was mainly classic songs from Hollywood Musicals. These songs really taught me a lot and stayed with me in everything that I have done in music ever since. I love writing music and having other people sing your songs is humbling. Every singer puts their own spin or interpretation on the songs they sing and it’s a really exciting process. I love sitting down and writing whatever comes to me at the time but I prefer to work to a brief. Having a clear idea of the style/emotion in my head before writing any music really helps me write my best music. Laura has written some lovely classical music across the years but never really wrote songs. Although that has really changed now and working together is such a creative and enjoyable process. We write about 50% of the music and lyrics each. Some say we have a strange way of working but we are incredibly in-tune with each other which makes this possible.
 
From a music perspective, who are your biggest influences? And who are your favourite artists to listen to?
 
Biggest influences on us both would be the music of the great George and Ira Gershwin, Rodgers and Hart/Hammerstein, Cole Porter, Jerome Kern and Ivor Novello. Our favourite living composer is eight time Academy Award winner Alan Menken and we also love the music of Richard and Robert Sherman, Alan and Richard have been incredibly supportive of us and our schools projects. It would be unfair not to give Claude Michel Schonberg a mention too. There are so many people that we really admire. We both listen to lots of different music from, Frank Sinatra, Michael Buble as well as cast albums and the albums of great theatre stars like Michael Ball, John Owen Jones, Alfie Boe, and Ramin Karimloo. Lots more as well.
 
If you could write a song for any Theatre performer, who would it be and why?
 

What a great question! Our next project is actually writing an album which will have ten songs on it being sung by ten different theatre performers. We cannot say anything yet but very hopeful we will get to work with some of these great artists. We would love to work with John Owen Jones again who has the most incredible voice. We would love to work with Michael Ball, Kerry Ellis, Alfie Boe, Jeremy Jordan to name just a few. We both really wanted to work with Ramin and are so pleased that we got to do that.

You are probably best known for your charity single “A Miners Song”. How did you manage to gather a group of such versatile performers together?
 
We both have family members who have sadly died in mining disasters or have lost their lives through mining related diseases. With the 100th anniversary of the Senghenydd Disaster which was the UK’s worst ever disaster coming up in October, it has been decided that a Welsh National Mining Memorial will be erected on that site. We wanted to write a song to raise money for the memorial and also pay tribute to Miners across the world. In September 2012 we took a piano down a mine for the first time to perform a concert and it all started there. Over the past few years we have worked with people like Michael Sheen, Jonathan Pryce and it all started with them and Ioan Gruffudd saying they would take part. In the end we had over 300 performers on the song including three choirs, 120 school children, brass band and over 20 soloists including Matthew Rhys, Paul Potts, Aled Jones and John Owen Jones. We were granted permission to use the voice of Richard Burton on the song which was just amazing. We were delighted with the way it came together but it was a real labour of love and took around four months solid work.
 
And you are about to release a single in aid of Children In Need featuring Ramin Karimloo. How did you get involved with the charity? And how did Ramin become involved with the project?
 

Children in Need is such an amazing charity and what they do to support young people in the UK is just brilliant and we really wanted to do something to support them. We decided to create the ‘Your Voice Musical Theatre Competition’ which will launch very soon. The judges for the competition are, Ryan Molloy, Caroline Sheen, Kerry Ellis, John Owen Jones, Alex Gaumond, Claire Sweeney, Ben Forster and Leanne Jones. The winner will win some West End workshops and some other great prizes. We wanted to write the competition song and wrote with Ramin Karimloo in mind. Ramin had heard ‘A Miner’s Song’ and when we approached him and sent across the song, he was just brilliant and came straight on board. Ramin co-wrote the lyrics with us and the single will be out at the start of September. He really is one of the most incredible performers and is a true perfectionist. A true example to anyone who wants to make it in performing arts.

Take a look at the teaser trailer for “Why Am I Falling” featuring the stunning talent of Ramin Karimloo, which will be released in September – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8h4h-EQrusg

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
 

Alfie Boe told us that every day you need to do something to further your career, whether it’s making a call or sending an e-mail. The great tenor Mario Lanza said that you should sing every song like it’s the last song that you will ever sing and with all the heart and emotion possible and that can also translate to song writing as well. Be individual and never copy anyone else because there is something incredibly special in all of us. If you really believe in yourself and you want to get somewhere then do all you can to get there take every performance opportunity and if none are coming up put on your own shows. Never have regrets over things that you should have done and don’t be afraid to dream.

For more details on the YOUR VOICE competition, including how to enter, check out http://www.yourvoicecompetition.com/home/4577758909 And for more information on Dan and Laura’s upcoming projects check out http://www.danandlauracurtis.com or on Twitter @DanLauraCurtis

Thank you so much to Dan and Laura for taking the time to answer my questions – it was an absolute honour to chat to such a talented pair of musicians! And don’t forget  to support “Why Am I Falling” when it is released at the start of September!


Signing off for now,

Blue Eyed Girl Xxx

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FIRST LISTEN – Nadim Naaman’s "We All Want the Same"

How do you know when a song has truly moved you?

Is it when it renders you utterly speechless on your very first listen? Is it when it completely consumes all of your thoughtsfor days on end? Is it when you can recite the lyrics word for wordwithout hesitation? Or is it when you burst into tears at just the thoughtof the meaning behind it?
Take everything I have just said, times it by 100, and you probably still wouldn’t be anywhere near the emotions I experiencedduring my first listen to Nadim Naaman’s stunning debut album “We All Want the Same”.
(Photo from www.auburnjam.co.uk)
I have had the absolute pleasure of getting to know Nadim this year – mainly through the wonderful interviews he has done for my Blog, and it was clear to see that although this album had been 10 years in the making, it had definitely been a labour of love for this brilliantly talented man. And now, as the official album release date is nearly here, I am so ecstatic to be able to say, after having a chance to hear the album in full already, that no matter how high your expectations were for this album,  they will be completely exceeded, in fact they will be completely obliterated!
Yes, Nadim’s album is THAT good! 

Every single track is perfectly crafted to tell the most enchanting story. And the fact that this is an album of entirely original material, all written by Nadim, is something that he should be massively proud of – it is a risk that has certainly paid off!

This is an album filled with such strength, joy, and the realisation that no matter what situation you, or those closeto you may be in, there is always hope that you should hold on to that will bring you through to better times.

 

Opening the album with the uplifting “Do My Best”, which Nadim himself explains was “the first song I wrote that wasn’t for a children’s musical (how I got into song-writing)”, as a listener, you are then taken on a true rollercoaster journey through pretty much every emotion you can think of. From tales of lost love in the Phantom-esque “Winter in Paris”, the reflective and truly moving “Sail Away”, the romantic and heart warming ballad “Now”, and the power and passion filled “Not With You Anymore”, one of the most outstanding elements of this album is that no two songs are the same. Each track stands alone as a beautiful piece of lyrical artistry, piecing together some of the most beautiful storytelling through song you are ever likely to hear.

So many of the tracks also have such a personal insight, be it from Nadim or from others. “The Man That I Could Be” tells of a man questioning so many things that he has been through and the lack of guidance he has been given, while the truly haunting “July 7th (For A Lost Son)” tells of a lost soul speaking to his family from beyond the grave about his experiences on that fateful day in London many years ago. But as far as the personal influence goes, “Amazed” is the stand out track. Anyone who knows Nadim will understand why he considers this to be his favourite song on the album – and I can honestly say that every time I listen to this song in particular, its simplistic beauty and heartfelt meaning reduces me to tears. You can tell that Nadim means every single wordhe sings on this track and I defy anyone who listens to it not to be emotionally moved to their core by the stunning sentiment and adoring lovethat this track has behind it.
 
(Photo from MUG Photography)

Nadim’s amazing talent also shines magnificently in the two duets on this album. “Sorry” – a duet with Siubhan Harrison(who will soon be seen in Tim Rice’s From Here to Eternity) and is the final track on the album, matches their voices beautifully and leaves the listener with a vision of not holding on to what is past, accepting what will be will be and moving on to a more hopeful future. “That’s How It Goes” – which was co-written and performed with Nadim’s former Phantom cast-mate Will Barratt (who can be currently seen in Jersey Boys) is also a stunning addition to the album –  the fantastic piano based opening building to the inclusion of the guitars, reminded this Blue Eyed Girl of a very stripped back MUSE track.

The reason I have left the album’s title track – the uplifting anthem “We All Want the Same” till last is because I feel the lyrics of this song in particular truly sum up what Nadim wanted to achievewith this album as a whole. As the chorus goes: –

We’re singing different songs, in different ways, at different times,
Trying hard to move along to be at peace with what’s inside,
When all is said and done, we’re all on the same side,

We all want the same, we want love in our lives.”

I don’t think anyone listening to the track or reading this review, can NOT relate to these lyrics in some way. It may not be directly about relationships – it may be about work, family, an important time in your life or achieving your goals. But this is what makes Nadim’s music so special – it can relate to so many different people on so many different levels. No matter who you are, where you live or what your life is like, you will be able to relate to this album in some way – and that’s a promise!

(Photo from MUG Photography)

 

This album is an absolutely spectacular showcase for Nadim, not just as a West End performer venturing into a newer side of the industry, but as a truly gifted vocalist and songwriter. Each song stands out in its own unique way, and although some may say the lyrics are quite clichéd, I would say that each word of each verse of each song is simply contributing to a superb debut from one of the most talented performers I have ever had the privilege to meet.

5 STARS!

TRACKLIST
1 – Do My Best
2 – Winter In Paris
3 – Sail Away
4 – Not With You Anymore
5 – Now
6 – The Man That I Could Be
7 – Amazed
8 – We All Want the Same
9 – That’s How It Goes (Co-written and performed with Will Barratt)
10 – July 7th (For A Lost Son)
11 – Sorry (Duet with Siubhan Harrison)


Hear Nadim talk about the album-making process – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8RUY–B5UCc

I must give a special thank you to Nadim for trusting me with this article – he is truly one of the most talented, kind and humble performers I have ever been truly blessed to meet, and I know that all the phenomenal success he so deserves is just around the corner 🙂

If you want to get a copy of the album for yourself – check out all the details over at http://www.auburnjam.co.uk/product/nadim-naaman/

Signing off for now

(A very blessed) Blue Eyed Girl Xxx