Considering he’s not yet 40 (a couple of years to go on that front), Gareth Malone hasn’t done too badly for himself.
He’s been awarded an OBE, has built a hugely successful TV career, released a best-selling album, and has been filling theatres nationwide as part of a first ever UK tour.
Speaking of which, that’s the point of writing this – Malone is at the Opera House in Blackpool tomorrow night.
Malone, a Londoner, who topped the album and single charts with the Military Wives, actually studied drama as opposed to music at the University of East Anglia.
But he sang in the choir and composed music for theatre productions and, after graduating, worked for the London Sympthony Orchestra.
He entered television work when approached by 20/20, a production company which wanted to make a series about singing in schools. Without knowing who could front the programme they had researched the term “community choirmasters” and discovered Malone’s name.
The Choir – first broadcast on BBC2 in 2008 – was the result and it won two BAFTAs and a Broadcast award.
In May 2010 Malone was awarded the Freedom of the City of London in recognition of his music education work in that city.
Tomorrow he brings his live show, which has earned excellent reviews from the critics, to Blackpool – a place he hasn’t been for quite a while.
“The last time I came to Blackpool was a very, very long time ago. I was 16 and visiting family who live in Lancaster and we came down to Blackpool on the Sunday,” he said.
“I’m ashamed to say I haven’t been since, but I am looking forward to coming to Blackpool, seeing how it’s changed. I am hoping the weather will be a bit better by then, but I shall be packing my cagoule.”
When we last spoke he was busy currently putting all the preparations together for the tour.
“I suppose I’m putting my money where my mouth is with this tour,” he said,
“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I love doing the TV shows, but I think when you’re a musician, doing live shows is what you really enjoy more than anything.
“Obviously I’ve done live shows before, this is my first tour. Playing in front of a large group, after months and months of working on the show, it’s like nothing else and I really enjoy it.
“Without sounding self-aggrandizing, I just love the dynamic of a large group of people and playing music to give them a fun evening.
“Obviously I am not on my own, I have a phenomenal choir with me, made up of 16 singers.
“I think it will be quite physically demanding, but with that many of us then we should be OK if anyone gets the lurgy or anything. Everybody has been working hard for it and we are looking forward to it.”
And there will be plenty of chance for the audience to sing along.
“There will be some audience participation, but nothing too intimidating. There’s going to be great songs,” he added.
“People can expect some classics, some favourites, very much songs they will know from the TV series, some songs from the album.
“There will be a bit of technical wizardry, a bit of me talking and, hopefully, some beautiful moments.”
Loads of tickets have been sold for tomorrow’s show but a few remain for those still wanting to go.
Priced £22, they are available from www.blackpoollive.co.uk or the box office on 0844 856 1111.