Liverpool-born Colin Vearncombe is probably best known for his legendary hits ‘Wonderful Life’ and ‘Sweetest Smile’, but Black (Colin’s musical nom de plume) has released more than 10 studio albums as well as several live albums in the past 25 years.
Eclectic, slightly melancholic and always extremely classy, he is often cited as one of Europe’s finest singer-songwriter. Although it’s 25 years since ‘Wonderful Life’ stormed the charts, it still regularly appears on ‘all time favourite songs’ lists and was recently released as a collector’s edition by Universal. Colin has spent long periods both writing and touring – sometimes with a band, sometimes solo – but always with a passion for words and communicating with his audiences.
The last two years have seen the release of two EPs, several European concerts and TV appearances, three UK tours and a guest performance in the Moscow Olympic Stadium in front of 24,000 people. “Music is always about communication and touring for me is an up close, personal experience that’s often as much about the audiences as it is about me,” says Colin.
This year he launched a direct-to-fan Pledge Campaign to help make a new Black album with long-time musical sparring partner Calum MacColl (son of Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger and brother of Kirsty MacColl). Pledgers are being treated to behind-the-scenes footage from the studio, acoustic versions of new songs, Q&A sessions and even cookery lessons from Colin.
The album will be produced by one of Colin’s musical heroes, the legendary producer and mix engineer Calum Malcolm (The Blue Nile). “Calum Malcolm has produced some of my all-time favourite artists and I’m immensely flattered that he wants to work with us on the new album. He’s also a great personality to have in the studio,” Colin explains.
Unusually, Colin has never actively chased commercial success; in a recent press interview, he questioned the notion of success: “It’s never been about the money; music is about communication and getting ideas across, but if you make a record and it sells low, you can start wondering, ‘Did the message get lost?’ I’ve been making my living over the past few years from lower sales and I’m happier than I’ve been in a long time. Does that makes me more or less successful than before?”
Colin considers his fans as his biggest asset and takes great care to treat them with the respect they deserve; he once staged a gig in a recording studio for a handpicked group of fans and at the end presented everyone with a personal copy of a CD and DVD of the performance. In another instance, all the tracks on his album ‘Any Colour You Like’ were chosen from his back catalogue by his fans.
Alongside his song writing and performing, other talents have surfaced - for acting, painting and poetry. He’s recently starred in a short film, has staged three of his own art exhibitions and he has published two books of his own poetry.
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