Vox Fortis see Il Divo comparisons as 'massive compliment'
Britain's Got Talent contestants Vox Fortis have said comparisons to classical vocal group Il Divo are "a massive compliment".
The quartet, made up of British members Rodney Clarke and Thomas Goodridge alongside Americans Julius Williams and Elias Hendricks, have been together for just over six months.
They raised the roof with a rousing rendition of We Will Stand Together, based on Elgar's Nimrod, for their audition on Simon Cowell's ITV talent series.
Talking about Cowell's multinational classical group Il Divo, Clarke said he was flattered to be mentioned in the same breath.
"It's great to have that comparison, we take that as a massive compliment," he told the Press Association.
"They've obviously touched the hearts of the British public and beyond and they've trail-blazed so if we can do the same, that would be amazing."
An overnight average of over nine million viewers watched the quintet unanimously impress TV mogul Cowell and fellow judges Amanda Holden, David Walliams and Alesha Dixon.
But since the filming of their first public performance as a group, Vox Fortis are now down to four.
Goodridge said: "There were five of us, but due to his own personal reasons, Cameron (Jones) decided not to continue with the group and we have to respect that.
"But as a four, we are strong enough to continue."
He added: "It's just so surreal to actually be up on the stage, in front of the judges doing what we love doing with an audience, you can't get much better than that."
Vox Fortis, which is Latin for "strong voices", were formed with a definite vision in mind.
Clarke said: "A friend of ours got in contact and said, 'Look, guys, would you want to be part of a new, all-black, male, classical crossover group and we said, yeah, why not?' We all know each other from the music circuit, so here we are."
When asked what the classical world could do to increase diversity and heighten the profile of people from all walks of life, Hendricks said Vox Fortis could fulfil a need.
"What we're doing, our particular style, will reach out to more people," the Alabamian member stated.
Connecticut singer Williams said: "At one point, this music was the pop music of its day ... that's what people sang on the streets so it's just putting it in a package that the average person can accept and identify with."
Hendricks continued: "Three of us are classically trained.
"We love this genre and thought, 'Wow!' wouldn't it be unique as four black guys to come out and do something like this, spice up the genre with something that we love to do and give the world something new."
Clarke agreed, saying: "The first time I remember really being touched by classical music was being a chorister, standing up at Easter time and singing in front of a congregation of 1,000 people."
Vox Fortis list Michael Jackson, Prince and Stevie Wonder as influences, with American gospel music, spirituals and the blues as additional music loves.
Asked about the name of their group, Clarke said "it really represented us".
"We're four very strong individuals so Vox Fortis, strong voices."
The group no longer have the element of surprise for the next round of Britain's Got Talent, but Clarke revealed Cowell's critique, broadcast on Saturday, has been their inspiration.
"We've been given a bit of crucial information from Simon, he really wanted to see more of our individuality come out so we've been knocking our heads together in the studio and we've got something up our sleeve."