"World domination looms for Stacey Kent" said the UK’s Jazz Review this month.
Whether that’s true or not time will tell, but it bodes well when Bill Gates, Clint Eastwood, and the chairman of BT, Sir Peter Bonfield, are among your most avid fans, the latter choosing ‘Close Your Eyes’ from Stacey’s debut album as one of his Desert Island Discs.
Over the last few years Stacey Kent has made the Great American Songbook her own, delighting audiences near and far with her uniquely delicate diction and welcoming approach. Of all the tunes in her repertoire, the ballads elicit most applause. Audiences in the most boisterous of venues or the largest of festivals are silenced by her spinetingling intimate style. That she is the greatest ballad singer in a generation will not be argued by the legion of ever younger fans coming to these songs via that voice.
‘Dreamsville’ is a collection of some of the greatest ballads ever written, but chosen by the fans rather than Stacey or her record label. In fact the whole album is dedicated to all those fans, friends and family who have supported her over the years and it is from the hundreds of requests she receives each week that the final selection was made.
Stacey explains: "I regularly receive e-mails from people around the world who have my albums, or from folks who are coming to see me in concert, and who mail with a special request. Sometimes I get home from a concert and there are a dozen messages from people who have seen my show that night, enthusing about their favourite songs. "I started to make a list of these, and also started to ask those close to me which tunes they would like to hear. Some were songs I had heard but never sung, like You Are There, others like Little Girl Blue were in my repertoire, but I hadn’t yet recorded. The one thing they had in common is that nearly all were ballads. I didn’t realize how much people loved to hear the ballads. Obviously I was flattered by this, because as a singer, the ballad leaves your voice at its most open, most exposed. To make an album of these songs seemed an obvious step, and they are all great love songs, which I adore."
Most are classics, but one, Hushaby Mountain was requested not by an online stranger, but by Stacey’s sister.
"We constantly sang in harmony, anywhere and everywhere. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was a favourite when we were kids, so I was thrilled to include it for her. I hope the people who write to me and come up to me at shows and who have given me so much love and support throughout my career enjoy the surprise!"