Sunday 16 December 2018

The gift of a song title that changed Charlie's life

Singer Charlie Landsborough is coming to the Hawk’s Well 20th January
Singer Charlie Landsborough is coming to the Hawk’s Well 20th January

Sorcha Crowley

Merseyside crooner Charlie Landsborough will never forget one particular birthday.

"I was getting all these books and various things as gifts and a friend said to me 'Here Charlie, I've a gift for you, it's a song title about a blind child, 'What colour is the Wind'. I can't do anything with it, but you might," recalls Charlie.

"It was fantastic. It was the greatest gift, it changed my life," he tells The Sligo Champion from his home in Liverpool.

What Charlie did next was to turn that song title into musical gold, penning the lyrics and music to the song we all remember so well from 1994.

"I wasn't aware of what I had written until I started playing it in pubs and my friend said, 'that's alright Charlie',"he said.

The song propelled him to international fame and success as a singer-songwriter.

Fans in Sligo will welcome the news he's bringing his four-piece band to the Hawk's Well Theatre on Saturday 20th January as part of a nationwide tour.

"I love coming to Ireland, I have been for donkey's years but I haven't played in Sligo for a long time,"he said.

"I genuinely love the place. We'll be playing a bit of a mix of old and new songs. We have a great sound and lighting system and I'll have a bit of a chat between songs just to lighten it a bit," he said.

"I didn't realise how important it's become to talk, it gives people a bit of an insight into your character,"he added.

Born on the 26th October 1941, the youngest of eleven children, Charlie was reared in the dockland area of Birkenhead surrounded by a loving family, animals and of course music.

After his mother died when he was 12, Charlie embraced a life of petty crime, spending two months behind bars before turning his life around and embracing music.

Charlie worked in various jobs before joining the army and leaving after four years. He went on to become a primary school teacher in his late thirties, and at the same time continuing with his first love of song-writing and singing semi-professionally.

"I taught for 14 years in a local school, in the area I grew up in, in what would today be called disadvantaged," he said.

"I met lovely kids," he recalled. "I used to write songs for the School Assembly, such as 'If only I had Wings' and 'My Forever Friends'," he said.

Charlie was, for a long time, unsure of his own talents and, indeed, when he first took the initial tentative steps as a songwriter, it was more as a vehicle to showcase his vocal talents than to express his own personal insights; though, as anyone who listens to Charlie's music would agree, he shows a depth of compassion and understanding which seems almost incongruous to his simplistic yet captivating style.

His own personal song writing blends easy on the ear and is always inspirational; his strong and often personal lyric content mixed with his wit and repartee has led to a winning formula which has earned him admiration. Charlie is a prolific songwriter inspiring such names as Jack Jones, Pat Boone, Foster and Allen, George Hamilton IV, Daniel O'Donnell and others to cover his songs.

He was invited to close Ireland's Special Paraplegic Olympics with his own song 'Special'. He was also George Hamilton IV special guest for three nights on the Grand Ole Opry, performing to full houses, which was unprecedented for a UK artist. He also performed at the prestigious Liverpool Summer Pops Festival where the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra accompanied him and his band, before a sell-out audience.

Charlie is a performer who is difficult to categorise, sometimes folk, sometimes country, sometimes rock 'n' roll, sometimes gospel. If you go into a music shop, you may find Charlie's music in the Country or the Easy Listening section but this belies the nature of a man who is uncomfortable with labels but spans various musical forms.

Tickets: (071) 916 1518

Sligo Champion