MARK Kingswood was destined to be a singer from a very young age.

Just about to release a new album - Brave Enough - on May 1, following his successful debut album, Strong, he is due to perform in Barrow in October.

His career has gone from strength to strength. He received unprecedented support from Ken Bruce on BBC Radio 2, in the form of a playlist inclusion of Strong, as well as an awe-inspiring live session in the Piano Room.

Influenced by legends like Frank Sinatra and Matt Monroe, and with the backing of a big band, Mark performs music from toe tapping brassy up tempos to Motown’s soulful flare.

Looking back on his introduction to the music industry, Mark revealed: “When I was about five or six, my parents bought me a keyboard . That was my first musical instrument. I stuck with it, played it and started singing.

“When I was about eight or nine I was on a family holiday in the UK and they had a children’s talent competition. My parents said they would enter me, but I said ‘don’t do that!’

“They did it without me knowing. I was called up on the stage and I sang a very ropey version of Unchained Melody by the Righteous Brothers. I won the competition! There were people standing up, clapping, and going wild!

“That gave me the buzz and I made my mind up that that was what I wanted to do.”

Mark has never had a ‘normal’ nine-to-five job, signing his first deal with a record company at the age of 14.

“They were a pretty big label and they had had a few number ones. I thought ‘this is it’. But they wanted to do dance records with me. It was a time when dance had not become main stream. People like Westlife and the Back Street Boys were all in the charts. I never felt comfortable doing dance music. I got quite unhappy and I decided to leave the label.”

Mark began to work in studios producing and making music, but after a while, he realised he missed the buzz of being behind the microphone, so he began singing live again.

He got a big break in 2016, when successful businessman Frank DeVito invited him to Canada to perform at a concert. After the concert the two were chatting, and it became clear that Frank wanted to get into the music industry, and Mark needed a backer.

They linked-up, and Brave Enough followed, with Strong due out on May 16.

Mark is inspired by singers like Frank Sinatra, Josh Groban and Matt Monroe, and the arrangements of songs with big bands.

He has got two bands of his own - one for performing in Canada, and one for his concerts in the UK.

With his label being based in Canada, he has a strong following there, performing in places like Vancouver and Toronto, and he also learnt some French for his gigs in Canada’s Quebec region.

“A lot of my fans are from Quebec, and I do try to learn a bit of French for shows, and a couple of songs. It gives me a chance to do something a bit different,” said Mark.

Normally he tours with a four-piece band, so they can perform in any size venue, but at full size his band is 10-strong.

“There is nothing like having a big band behind you. The power you get is quite amazing. When I recorded both albums I was lucky enough to have a live 40-piece string section.”

Mark writes original music for his albums, but does always cover one or two songs too, such as Northern Soul classic Tainted Love, which starts his new album.

Last year he enjoyed touring with Jools Holland, supporting him on the UK leg of his tour.

“It was great to be on tour with someone like that. The audience was great, “ said Mark.

“One of the best feelings you can have as an artist is when you are singing your own songs and you can remember sitting there writing it. And at a show, you also have people sitting there singing it back to you.

“I remember being at Montreal, after ‘Strong’ put me on the map. They were singing it back to me, and it was such a proud feeling.”

Commenting on the album, Mark said: “I wanted to really dig deep into different musical genre’s and era’s that inspired me and try to embody more of those elements into my own music.

“Although this was a lot of fun, I was still always aware of the fact that somehow, I had to find a way to make the variation feel cohesive as a musical piece of work and still resemble the Mark Kingswood Signature sound my fans will expect to hear. I feel like I’ve achieved that goal on this record.

“With over 50 live musicians, big arrangements and ‘no holding back’ attitude on the drama, we’ve captured a nice variety but without falling too far out of our lane. From the outset, I wanted to make sure there was a little something for everyone so that it reaches new audiences as well as still satisfying my supportive fans who have been with me from the start.

“The album includes brand new traditional sounding big-band tracks and heartfelt power ballads but also journeys right through to Motown’s groove and soulful backing vocals. I really hope that people enjoy it as much as I loved writing and recording it. I had a blast.”

Mark is due to perform at The Forum in Barrow on October 12. He added: “It is crazy times. I don’t know what is going to happen in the future in terms of travel. We have just got to get through it and see what happens really.”

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