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Carli Paoli – Singing My Dreams

Submitted by on October 31, 2017 – 8:59 pmNo Comment

Carly Dorchester 1When someone as revered as legendary tenor José Carreras says he admires a singer’s “voice, artistry and charisma”, you know that person must be someone special. He was referring to Carly Paoli, the daughter of a Mansfield lorry driver who is about to become an opera superstar.

Carly has just released her first album, Singing My Dreams, which is unique in a number of ways: it features a duet with Carreras who rarely performs with anyone else; Oscar-winning lyricist Don Black has penned a track specifically for Carly; and the estate of the late American film composer James Horner gave her unprecedented permission to put lyrics to some of his music.

It’s an amazing rise to prominence for a confident, well-spoken, personable young woman who had a dream at the age of nine that she wanted to be a singer and virtually every step she has taken since then has propelled her towards a career in music.

It was fitting that someone who is destined for great things should invite me to meet her and her mum Tina over breakfast at the Dorchester in London at 9am on a Saturday morning.

In the hotel’s glitzy, delightful surroundings Carly recounted in a matter-of-fact way how she has worked with celebrated performers such as Andrea Bocelli, how the teacher who spotted her potential when she was nine is still a major influence on her career and how she owes so much to her parents.

She was really excited about the album which has taken three years to complete.

“What’s special about it is most of the songs have already been performed live so I’ve had a real audience reaction to the music which makes it very different when you go into a recording studio – the songs have had chance to grow. So there’s a much deeper emotion and connection with each song.”

Carly Dorchester 2The track En Aranjuez Con Tu Amor is a duet with Carreras who also said she “is a wonderful person to work with” and “it’s a pleasure for me to sing with her.”

The sentiments are reciprocated by Carly who says recording with the Spanish tenor in his home town Barcelona was a “huge honour”.

“We had a lot of fun that day. His nephew was the conductor for this piece. I suppose they were as bad as each other – I kept thinking to myself ‘gosh, he seems agitated today, I wonder what’s wrong?’ And then I found out it was because Barcelona and Real Madrid were about to play and he wanted to make sure he got his vocals down before the football match started. Very cheeky.”

Carly says Singing My Dreams is not just a classical album and there is lots of crossover music on it.

“The song selection is very much driven by me. As a child my musical influences were Judy Garland and Gene Kelly and that’s what made me want to sing and be on stage. So I feel with this album I’ve been able to put in little elements of each part that I love about music.

“I love music to inspire. Some of my favourite songs are Michael Jackson’s Will You Be There and Man In The Mirror. I think they tell such an amazing story that leaves an impression on the listener.

“Each of my songs tells a story. Lyrics are primarily the thing that draws me to a song. I love lyrics and I love each word to be coloured differently. With the classical element I think that gives an added touch of drama that makes the hairs stand up on your arms. It takes your breath away because it’s something unexpected.”

Carly-Paoli hand under chinPeople who say they don’t like classical music may be surprised at some of the tracks on Carly’s album. She says you have to listen to it with an open mind because each song is different.

After Loving You was written by Don Black – “he’s a legend,” says Carly. “He’s written some of the most magnificent lyrics in history and this song is in the style of James Bond, so it’s got a huge brass section at the beginning in the style that Dame Shirley Bassey began her songs, but then the middle section is completely different.

“I wrote the lyrics to Memory Of You when I lost my grandmother three years ago. My producer Romano Musumarra created a beautiful arrangement of James Horner’s music from the film Legends of the Fall which features Brad Pitt and Anthony Hopkins.

“It’s a song that I always loved, so when I wrote the lyrics it was the first melody that came into my head during a flight home from Italy.

“I had what I call a small miracle when I wrote to the James Horner estate because very tragically he was killed in a plane accident two years ago. So I sent the lyrics and a personal letter to his family. They agreed that the song could be on my album which is a huge honour because it means so much to me.

“I work very closely with my producer Romano – we know each other inside out. The album’s taken three years to come together so there’s been lots of experimentation with different music and we’ve found each time the right route for each song. It’s been completely tailored to suit my voice which is a huge privilege as a singer.”

Carly Paoli was born on 28 January 1989 in Mansfield. Dad Paul is a lorry driver and mum Tina worked for a travel agent. Carly spent summers in Puglia, Italy where her grandfather and extended family live.

“My whole life’s been about music and I’d love to be able to share that passion with other people”

She studied at the Rodney School for Performing Arts and the Tring Park School for Performing Arts. Describing herself as a “real Christian”, Carly says it was God’s plan that when she was nine she met vocal coach Liz Hetherington. Carly and Liz, formerly a professional singer with Glyndebourne and New Sadler’s Wells Opera, are still together. “I truly believe she made me the singer I am today,” says Carly.

Hopefully the time is now ripe for mezzo-soprano Carly to be appreciated on a global stage. She has performed in Monaco, Florence and at New York’s Carnegie Hall as well as London’s O2 Arena and she has sung for HRH The Prince of Wales.

Her song Ave Maria was adopted by Pope Francis as the song for his jubilee year celebrations and was heard around the world. That ought to have been the catalyst for international stardom – but some people in her organisation who have since been replaced didn’t make the most of the opportunity.

Now the album is expected to build on a performance on Italian television by Carly last month – watched by millions worldwide – and on Carly’s being awarded the Premio Barocco in Italy which recognises achievements in art and culture. Previous winners include film director Franco Zeffirelli, Dame Helen Mirren and Luciano Pavarotti.

However, Carly doesn’t sing to be a star: “I perform because I love to share music. My dream has always been to be on stage. My whole life’s been about music and I’d love to be able to share that passion with other people.”

Carly Paoli earringNo matter how many people Carly is performing to, she admits she does get nervous: “It’s amazing – sometimes the intimate performances in front of 25 people can be more nerve-racking than a large audience because you find that the tables are close to the stage and you can see everybody’s reactions.

“You have to be aware of that and engage more with each person in the audience. But with a huge crowd you’re blinded by the stage lights and you’re just singing out into a vast space which is lovely and it’s not as intimidating, funnily enough.”

Wherever she goes Carly is accompanied by her parents whose hard work ensured she never missed out on anything.

“It’s really not easy when your daughter has a dream. They’ve supported me every step of the way. I suppose now my dream’s their dream as well.”

Having spent time with Carly and her mum, I can vouch that success will definitely not go to her head.

“The important thing is never to take life for granted. I’ve met so many talented individuals and not everybody gets these opportunities. I always pray before I go on stage but I know that it can all be gone in a heartbeat.”

So what’s her ambition? “By next year I’d like to create another album because I’ve had a taste for it. I’d like to tour with this one and be able to share the music live. I just hope that people enjoy my music as much as I’ve enjoyed making it.”

There’s no doubt that before long countless people will be imitating José Carreras in singing Carly Paoli’s praises.

This article appeared in the July 2017 edition of Country Images magazine

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