Star in Britain hopes for new U.S. fans

~ Singer says he is looking forward to his S.L. visit ~

by Scott Iwasaki for Desert Morning News (09/05/2004)

Michael Ball is a major recording and performing artist in the United Kingdom. He's toured the world and has performed with Ray Charles, Gloria Estefan, Elaine Paige, Sir Cliff Richard and Dionne Warwick.

Michael Ball

He's recorded 12 albums and has performed with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Royal Shakespeare Company and in numerous Andrew Lloyd Webber and Cameron Mackintosh musicals.

While some hard-core musical-theater fans in America will know who Ball is, he is still not as well known here as he is throughout the world. "I've been concentrating on my career in the U.K.," Ball said by phone from a hotel room in New York City. "It's really a problem with time. I've been so busy these past few years that I haven't been able to make a tour in the United States."

Ball made his U.S. debut on Broadway as Alex, a role he helped create, in Webber's "Aspect of Love" back in 1990. The song "Love Changes Everything," became Ball's signature song and hit No. 1 on the international charts.

Since then, however, Ball has been involved with his own TV program, his own recordings and his U.K. and world tours. "It's been so difficult trying to get my things in order to be able to come to the United States," he said. "But I'm finally coming back."

Ball has loved music since he was a child growing up in South Africa. "My father had all of these classic musical theater albums we listened to over and over again," he said. "When we moved to the U.K., I attended my first theater — I believe it was 'West Side Story' — and I fell in love with it. That's when I decided to try to become a professional singer."

In 1992, Ball was chosen as the U.K.'s representative in the Eurovision Song Contest. He placed second. His song, "One Step Out of Time," was an instant hit, peaking at No. 1 on the U.K. singles charts and reaching more than 600 million people worldwide. His self-titled debut album reached No. 1 on the U.K. album charts.

From there, Ball's life would never be the same. In 1993, he sang the role of Tony in the London Philharmonic Orchestra's "West Side Story." He continued to tour and began taping his self-named TV program.

By 1998, Ball had become one of Britain's hottest singers, and made appearances on BBC Radio 2 as a guest DJ. He performed in major concerts all over his home country and sang for the queen's golden wedding anniversary and performed at both Webber's and Mackintosh's 50th birthday celebration performances. He is also involved with charities and other awareness projects. He is the founding member of the Research into Ovarian Cancer.

Recently off a tour in Australia, Ball said he's looking forward to new things in his future.

"I'm anticipating performing in Salt Lake City," he said. "I've heard a lot of great things about that place. I hope the people there like what I do."

He is honored to be singing with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir for the Sunday broadcast of "Music and the Spoken Word" on Sunday. "I tell people that I'm singing with the choir and they tell me how wonderful they are. I can only imagine the sound we'll make, especially in the Conference Center.

"To tell you the truth, I'm a little nervous to be singing with such a great choir. I hope they'll forgive my nervousness."

Ball is also happy that Salt Lake Mayor Rocky Anderson is a fan. "I'm told I'm going to get the key to the city. I wonder what doors it will open. I hope it will open many new relationships with Salt Lake City. I'm honored to be able to perform there."

The Salt Lake performances, said Ball, are the beginnings of bigger things in his life. And he has plans for additional projects. "I can't tell you about them, yet. I don't want to jinx them. But I want to be able to do the best I can with everything I do.


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