Published on November 30th, 2017 | by voxx0
An Interview with Carly Paoli
You might not have heard of her until now, but British-born Carly Paoli is a wonderfully talented classical singer with a wealth of experience and a gorgeous personality, coming towards the end of her tour with Britain’s Got Talent winners Collabro. Entering 28-year-old Carly’s dressing room at the Grimsby Auditorium, I’m met with a warm reception and bright smiles. I try to draw my eyes away from the enormous case of make-up and focus on the job at hand. I’m here to talk music, and what a talk it is…
To begin with, how have you been finding this tour?
This tour has been like a completely new experience for me. I don’t think I could have been in better company for my first tour. It’s been full on, but every place has had a fantastic reception so it’s been really nice. I went to Glasgow last week, Stirling – that was wonderful, you know just to go to all these different places, lots of them that I haven’t visited before. So it’s been the best way to go in and discover a new place, a lovely way to experience a new city or town.
Do you have time to look round each place then?
We’ve made time, yeah. Because we’ve usually stayed in hotels along the way which has meant the following morning we’ve been able to go to the town centre and have a cup of tea or coffee, look around the shops, or we’ve gone earlier to the next venue and had a shop there. Me and Mum are shopaholics, so my poor Dad’s made time for us.
So you’ve bought a few nice things then!
I have, yeah, and got to stock up for Christmas along the way.
So how long are you touring for?
Well, this tour started on October 24 and we officially finish on December 2. Then I get home to West Sussex for one day and the following day I’m in Sloane Square for the Children in the Arts concert for Classic FM. After that I come back and have another concert in my local church to help build a roof, which is nice, and I’m really looking forward to that. They’ve made it really Christmassy so it should be lovely. Then it’s on to Bari in Italy. I fly out there for a concert in the basilica. I come back and then I fly to New York on the twentieth where I have two more concerts, one at the city hall.
Have you been to New York before?
I have, yeah. I performed there two years ago at Carnegie Hall, but this is really exciting because I’ve got my album now and so I’ve got something to show. I’m singing with The Tenors, who you may have seen sing at the Queen’s birthday celebration last year. And they’re a fab group, they really are.
And what got you interested in classical music in the first place, rather than more conventional genres?
I think honestly it’s just the voice that I’ve got. I fell in love with music as young as three years old; I was singing to the Disney movies. And then I loved the MGM musicals with people like Julie Garland and Barbara Streisand. They became sort of my idols who I followed, but it was at nine years old when I started having lessons. A lady heard me singing at Stagecoach and told my mum I should have private lessons and that I had a good voice. And from day one it was always a classical sound that was my default sound. Then obviously it richens and develops as you get older. We always laughed because my voice was always bigger than my body, so you have to wait to eventually grow into it.
That’s cool. So what’s your thought process before going on stage? How is that feeling that all those people will soon be listening to you.
Yeah, I was actually talking about this yesterday with my mum and dad, who have been on tour with me all the way. This must be the 22nd or 23rd tour date and I still get nervous. I kind of thought by now I would have overcome the butterflies as such, but every time I’m stood at the side of the stage I still get butterflies. I always say a prayer; I never go on stage without praying. And then you get on and the first minute or so is the nervous bit but then you settle into it and you really love the room. It’s just a wonderful feeling.
Do you have any particular way you prepare to go on stage?
I think it really helps to have a routine, doing the same thing night after night. Sitting and doing my make-up is my little downtime. I curl my hair and put it all up too. I’ve got better at that. I still have my bad hair days, but I have got better as I’ve gone along. Then I have dinner and at around 7.30 I warm up, spend some time doing my scales. I’ve been taking a keyboard along with me to quite a few events if they don’t have a piano because actually while I’m here in my dressing room I’ve been learning the songs for the next concert, which is mental but you know, there’s a lot that happens in these dressing rooms as we go along. I always choose to drink honey and hot water to keep my voice happy. It’s nice to not have to think about it too much.
So have you found your work is generally well received?
Well, I mean this is Collabro’s tour so they stand on their own from their success in Britain’s Got Talent, but I’ve had beautiful comments each night and it’s been a real pleasure looking at my social media and seeing the lovely things that people have put, like the way that my music has touched them, moved them, because that’s why I make it as such. You want to create an emotion for the audience. A common piece of feedback I’ve received is “We’ve never heard of you until today, and we’re so pleased that you’re here singing for us.” I really hope that I can embrace more people with my music and that they enjoy it as much as I do. I’ve even had the chance to meet the audience in each show. I always come out during the interval to meet people and to sign albums or programmes, so that’s been a really special part because it’s not something I’ve had the opportunity to do before. I’ve never been in that situation. It’s just been a really lovely experience and I feel like I’ve learnt a lot as well on this journey.
So what kinds of lessons have had the most impact?
I think it’s probably the art of primarily singing with four boys as opposed to one. I’ve dueted in the past but it’s always just been with one tenor, so to go on is actually really lovely in a group. It’s not something I’ve had the chance to do as I’m usually on my own. I do perform on my own in this show too, but we also do two duets together and I’ve really loved that, just creating rich harmonies. Four voices can add another element to a song that you’ve not been able to do before. Meeting people, as I say, that’s been really lovely, but I’ve also had to learn to run around the venue, where you don’t know each venue, to find your way around to get to front of house. It’s been exciting for me and my family because my dad’s been the driver and my mum’s been with me all the way, and then of course my manager keeps popping in and out. As a team we’ve got really good at it and we’re going to miss it when it’s finished, definitely.
Well, I’m sure you’ll do another one.
Yeah, I hope so, soon. I mean, I have got my own concert on February 15 at Cadogan Hall in Chelsea. That’s something that I’m excited about. I’ve got a 60 piece orchestra joining me at that venue, and Steven Mercurio is coming to conduct – he’s a Grammy award-winning conductor from New York. The Tenors, who I’m singing with in New York, are going to perform there and also Federico Paciotti, who is a young tenor from Italy who I had the pleasure of performing with on two occasions, one in the Roman Forum when I sang for the Pope’s Jubilee and the other was an occasion called La Dolce Vita.
So have you done a lot over in Italy then? And how did the performance for the Pope come about?
I have, yeah. My mother’s Italian so it’s a place I grew up in as much as Mansfield I suppose. I spent all my summers out there and it was a place that gave me the chance to grow as an artist and perform. I gained so much performance experience there when I was young, just in piazzas or something, but you know it was five times a week so it was priceless really. It really started in 2015 when I performed at Terme di Caracalla, which is the Roman baths where the three tenors first premiered for the football. It was when the World Cup was being held in Italy, and sat in the audience on that evening was a representative of Pope Francis. It was him who contacted my management afterwards. He said we really love the Ave Maria that Carly sung at the beginning of that show and would we possibly be able to adopt it as the official song for the Jubilee. And that’s what happened. So naturally my whole world moved over to Rome for a little bit while that Jubilee year was taking place, and the song that I’ve been performing in Collabro’s show is one called ‘Time for Mercy’. It was the song that closed this special evening in the heart of the Roman Forum. It was nominated the Year of Mercy by Pope Francis, hence where the title of the song came from. Actually, it was taken out of his book; A Time for Mercy was the name of the first chapter.
Wow, it sounds like exciting stuff then.
It’s just lovely to see how different things unfold out of the unexpected. Never would I have thought that there’d be somebody sat in the audience that night in Rome that could have changed my life, and they really did.
So how did it feel to get that call?
It was big! I mean, I kind of thought, “Ok”. They explained what it meant because at first I thought “The Roman Catholic Jubilee, right…” I’m a Christian so I did my homework and I went over to Rome and met with Monsignor Andreatta, who is the private secretary of Pope Francis. We had a lovely dinner at his house where he took me round the archive of all the books from all the Jubilees of the past. What normally happens is the Jubilee happens every 25 or 50 years, unless the Pope declares an extraordinary Jubilee because of turbulent times. So I was looking through these books and there must have been 60 or 70 of them going centuries back and he was explaining that my song and my name and that evening at the Roman Forum would go into this book. That was just… well, I was becoming a piece of history, which was really, really, really special. That’s so precious to me.
That does sound amazing. But coming back to this tour, what are the guys from Collabro like to work with?
They’re sweethearts. They really are. They’ve all got different characters and it’s been lovely getting to know them all over the tour. They’re quite funny as well. Matt in particular is quite a joker and it’s always quite interesting when they start talking on stage. Some nights you get to know their script and what they’re going to say but then sometimes they deviate and it becomes really funny backstage when you’re listening. We usually all have dinner together, and Phillipa, who’s the support act, is lovely as well. She really has a fabulous voice. So yeah, we’ve had a blast. We really have. Like I say, we all have our dinner and we all encourage each other not to eat the pudding, though we usually end up doing it anyway. I think that’s probably what I’m going to miss the most. I’m going to miss Collabro and the band and the whole crew. You kind of become a family in a very short period of time because you see each other daily.
You said before that you like to go out and meet your audience. Have you met anybody particularly memorable on this tour?
Well, I met a boy in Blackpool. He came before the show because he was a fan and he wanted to get my signature, and he was completely blind, bless him. But he loved music and he was just such a lovely young man. He came in with his help and he was extremely courageous. He works as a volunteer in charity stores, so he’s already out there doing his bit in the world, and he loved my music so much he actually sang for me. He was fabulous; he really had a lovely voice. He sang ‘Time to Say Goodbye’, so we ended up doing a small duet to that together and it was brilliant. He’d even learned the Italian as well.
Wow, that sounds incredible, but can you tell us a bit more about the album you released this year, Singing My Dreams? Are you pleased with it?
I’m out performing my debut album, which means everything to me. I’ve had amazing reviews from David Mellor, which was everything I could have wanted, published in the Mail on Sunday. That really made people take note. This is the music I’m performing and promoting at the moment, and there’s new music on there, which is exciting. It’s really different and there are actually songs that I’ve written myself. I’ve written the lyrics to two of the songs. One is ‘Why’ and the other is the last song on the album, ‘Memory of You’, which I’m actually performing last in this show as well. It’s set to James Horner’s music from Legends of the Fall, which I’m love with, and I actually wrote the lyrics after I lost my grandmother. The music’s epic and I’m really proud of those lyrics, so it’s something really special for me.
So how would you suggest more people, especially younger generations, get interested in your genre, because obviously we don’t get very much exposure to it?
I think the nicest way to experience this music is live because, even when taking the singers out of it, there’s nothing quite like a live orchestra. It’s the most powerful sound and so it’s wonderful to hear acoustic instruments coming together and blending like that; it really is amazing and quite different to when you hear it on any recording. So I think that’s a great way to be introduced to it. If you ever have an opportunity to hear an orchestra somewhere, it’s the perfect way to first experience this kind of music.
Finally, do you hope to keep doing this in the distant future?
I can’t imagine doing anything else. For me I’ve got the best job in the world and I thank God every night, I really do. I love every minute of what I do. It’s a wonderful world to be a part of.
- By Victoria Hydes