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Showbiz: Engelbert’s mates in tune

Legendary British singer Engelbert Humperdinck sings with some of his dream duet partners in his latest album, writes Dennis Chua


VETERAN crooner Engelbert Humperdinck’s latest album comprise duets with some of his contemporaries. Humperdinck, whose real name is Arnold George Dorsey, says the double-disc album of romantic songs is a “dream come true”.

“I’ve always wanted to do this album, and my son and manager Scott greatly encouraged me,” the British song legend said in a recent phone interview, adding that he had always wanted to sing duets with Sir Elton John, Sir Cliff Richard and Gene Simmons, who are featured in the album.

Befitting his longtime moniker the King of Romance Music, the 23-track Engelbert Calling was released in March.

His collaborators are a virtual ‘who’s who’ of popular music. They include Shelby Lynne, Johnny Mathis, Lulu, Neil Sedaka, Dionne Warwick, Beverly Knight, Smokey Robinson, Andrea Corr and Wynonna Judd.

“We sing romantic numbers which each of us made popular,” says Humperdinck. For instance, he sings Something About The Way You Look Tonight with Elton John, Since I Lost My Baby with Cliff Richard, Never Never Never with Olivia Newton-John, Spanish Eyes with Il Divo, Make You Feel My Love with Willie Nelson, Spinning Wheel with Gene Simmons, She Believes In Me with Kenny Rogers and She with Charles Aznavour.

Humperdinck is delighted two of his children, Louise and Bradley, sing in the album. “I sang Better with Louise and Father And Son with Bradley. It’s a first for the family,” he says.

ENGELBERT CALLING

Humperdinck enjoys his collaboration with John the most, as they are old friends who share a love of heartfelt songs with powerful lyrics. “I credit Elton with the Engelbert Calling concept and title. He said that in the early days, when he was a struggling writer in London, he used to live in a little flat, writing songs and hoping and wishing that one day an Engelbert Humperdinck would call and take one of his songs.

“Finally, we’ve made it happen and it’s truly rewarding for both of us,” says Humperdinck.

As for his team-up with Richard, Humperdinck reveals that they recorded their parts separately. “Cliff recorded in New York while I recorded mine in London. Nevertheless, the results were simply magical as if we were both in the studio together,” says Humperdinck.

Humperdinck describes his album of duets as a “milestone” in his career, his “biggest celebration of musical collaborations”. The CD is produced in London and Los Angeles by Grammy-winning producer Martin Terefe, the man behind Train, Jason Mraz and James Morrison.

“It’s my 80th album and comes 45 years after my first No.1 single Please Release Me. I am truly thrilled to be working with some of the greats of show business and am honoured that the likes of Elton and Cliff have contributed to this album. It’s been a labour of love and I’m truly proud of how it’s turned out,” says Humperdinck.



“It’s my 80th album and comes 45 years after my first No.1 single Please Release Me.”Engelbert Humperdinck

ILLUSTRIOUS CAREER

Born in Chennai, India in 1936, Humperdinck is one of 10 children of British Army officer Mervyn Dorsey. He began his musical career after completing national service in the British Army Royal Corps of Signals in the 1950s.

Humperdinck went to Belgium in 1966, where he represented the United Kingdom in the annual Knokke song contest. There, he made a mark on the Belgian charts with Dommage, Dommage.

In the mid-1960s Humperdinck met German songwriter Bert Kaempfert and was offered arrangements of three songs — Spanish Eyes, Strangers In The Night and Wonderland By Night. Back in the UK, he recorded all three songs even though Strangers became more associated with Frank Sinatra.

Please Release Me, which was recorded in a smooth, ballad style, came out in 1967. It made the top 10 on both sides of the Atlantic and became a No.1 in the UK. A year later, A Man Without Love reached No.2 in the UK Singles Chart and the album of the same name reached No.3.

By the end of the 1960s, Humperdinck’s roster of songs also included Am I That Easy To Forget, The Way It Used To Be, I’m A Better Man (For Having Loved You) and Winter World Of Love.

Humperdinck more recently represented the UK in the Eurovision Song Contest 2012, in Baku, Azerbaijan where he sang Love Will Set You Free, produced by Terefe and co-written by Sacha Skarbek.

“It was the UK team’s decision to choose me based on my experience. I didn’t win, but they all gave me a standing ovation as the most senior contestant,” says Humperdinck who finished 25th.

KEEPING FIT

A renowned humanitarian and philanthropist, Humperdinck is also involved in the Leukaemia Research Fund, the American Red Cross, the American Lung Association and AIDS relief organisations, among others. He wrote a humanitarian relief song, Reach Out in 1992, on his album Hello Out There.

Humperdinck, who keeps fit and healthy by going to the gym, riding his motorcycles and playing golf, has been married to Patricia Healey for five decades. They have four children and nine grandchildren.

On his next album, he says it will be titled Engelbert Redialed and will contain more duets with famous singers, which marks “a sequel of sorts”.

He explains: “Singing has always been my passion, and I always keep myself informed of new talents in popular music. When there’s a brilliant new singer in town, I’d love to meet him or her, with a future collaboration in mind.”

His top-selling albums include Release Me, The Last Waltz, A Man Without Love and Engelbert Humperdinck. He was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1989 and won a Golden Globe Award as entertainer of the year.

In 2006, the University of Leicester awarded Humperdinck with an Honorary Doctorate of Music. DENNIS CHUA NST Showbiz - 22 JUNE 2014 @ 8:04 AM
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