Mansfield-born singing sensation Carly Paoli bounces back post-lockdown with a new duet album, numerous TV appearances and a national tour with Aled Jones

For Mansfield-born singing sensation Carly Paoli, Covid changed her world overnight, and instead of flying around the globe, performing in concerts, dueting with the likes of Andrea Bocelli and José Carreras, she found herself grounded.

By Andy. Done-Johnson
Tuesday, 14th December 2021, 7:09 pm
Carly is back with a bang after the Covid lockdown
Carly is back with a bang after the Covid lockdown

But like many performers who suddenly found themselves deprived of live audiences, the 32-year-old got creative through lockdown and produced a brand new album, dueting with the likes of Elaine Page, Aled Jones and American Christian vocalist David Phelps.

I give it a listen ahead of our chat, and it’s sublime, haunting and beautiful.

And the whole thing was done remotely, with contributors from all over the world recording their voices for Carly to accompany from her own studio.

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Carly Paoli stars in Christmas at the Castle. Photo: Ian Walton

“In some ways it was awful,” she says. “When you get used to performing in front of live audiences, and you get to the end of a song, when you hit that high note and you’re met with silence, that’s really difficult.

“But as musicians, we’ve all had to pick up new skills, to learn new ways of doing things, which is never a bad thing.

“It would have been lovely to have been physically in the studio with all of these people, but these artists are all international, and because we couldn’t be together, it made us all collaborate so much more.

“It’s not the same, but you can make it work.”

The Mansfield-born soprano has released her fourth album

It’s been a couple of years since we last spoke - pre-Covid when the popular soprano was about to release her latest single - ‘I’ Te Vurría Vasá’, a traditional love song which he loved from the long Summers she spent with family in southern Italy, where her mother originates from.

It would become a part of her third album, Due Anime (The Italian Collection).

But her new offering - Carly Paoli and Friends - is hugely eclectic, featuring numbers from her Classical repertoire, contemporary pop, spiritual and musical theatre.

And now she’s back with a vengeance, with recent appearances on Good Morning Britain, This Morning, the Alan Titchmarsh Show, and Sunday Morning Live.

Carly meeting fans in Mansfield in 2019

Next up she will be appearing at the Royal Variety Show, which has already been filmed - where she performs her Rainbow Medley - where she duets on the album with Elaine Page - with Jane McDonald - and a special Carols at Christmas show on the television, where she will perform with Spandau Ballet front man Tony Hadley.

But unfortunately, Carly won’t be around to watch the Royal Variety Show, when it airs from the Albert Hall on December 19, as she has four shows lined up in Italy and won’t make it back until later in the week.

So will her family sit tight until she gets back to watch it together?

“No, they’re far too proud and impatient,” she laughs. “They’ll want to watch it when it goes out and I’ll have to catch it when I get back from Italy.

She's be performing in the Royal Variety Performance and is going on tour with Aled Jones

“My parents go everywhere with me, my mum keeps me company and my dad usually drives me . . . it’s a real family affair.

“But we’re coming to Mansfield for Christmas to stay with my nan in Clipstone, so we’ll watch it all again as a family on Christmas Day. I hope to get into my pyjamas when I get there and not get out of them for about four days.”

Perhaps most excitingly, and marking her return to touring, she will be supporting Aled Jones on his 2022 Cathedral Tour, which kick-starts at Nottingham’s St Mary’s Church in February.

“It’s lovely when you get into bed at night and think, ‘tomorrow I’m going to be performing in front of a live audience’,” Carly says.

“I love Aled and I love working with him - everyone says it’s a small world, but it really is - when you are focused on an area you are passionate about, paths cross time and time again. I performed with him on the album and I was in Wales with him recently working on another project.

“He’s been singing his whole life, and it’s always wonderful for us to be able to sing together. - and after this past year or so, it’s just amazing being able to perform before live audiences again.”

Carly grew up in Berry Hill, and initially trained at Directions Theatre Arts in Chesterfield, before moving on to Tring Park School for Performing Arts.

She returned to the Derbyshire town to teach at Directions for two years after completing her studies at the prestigious Royal Northern College of Music.

But she says that Mansfield is really where it all started - where she first cut her teeth as a singer, competing in, and winning the town's long-running Junior Showtime event.

“Mansfield is where it first started for me,” she says. “I entered Junior Showtime at the library - I didn’t even have a backing track, but eventually I won it and that’s really where it all began.

“The town played a huge part in me chasing my dreams.”

But there has also been another first for the gifted young singer - performing in a football strip in front of a massive crowd ahead of the World Cup qualifier between Northern Ireland and Italy in Belfast.

She says: “I was asked to perform the British and Italian National Anthems ahead of the game. I had this beautiful blue cape for the Italian anthem, and then, when I had to perform the other one, I took it off and had the Northern Ireland strip underneath.

“There’s nothing like a football crowd. The roar was incredible. It almost knocked me off my feet.”

But going back to the new album, who was she most excited to perform with?

“For me it was David Phelps,” she says. “My faith is something that’s hugely important to me - when I sing it brings me closer to my faith and I have admired him for many, many years and working with him was beyond beautiful, beyond special.

“I was quite emotional about it because he was such an inspiration to me.”

Carly Paoli and Fiends is out now.

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