KAMMY SINGS BIG BAND & SWING
- Star of Saturday Afternoons & Saturday Evenings Croons Christmas Classics
- ‘Here’s to Christmas’ – Out 15th November
Chris ‘Kammy’ Kamara has announced his debut album, ‘Here’s to Christmas’, that will be released on 15th November on So What.
The presenter, known to many as being the voice of Saturday afternoon’s sport, lends his expressive croon to the sounds of brass, strings and swing on Christmas standards including ‘Winter Wonderland’, ‘It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas’, and ‘Santa Baby’.
‘Unbelievable Jeff’? Maybe not! A love of big band music has always been in Kammy’s blood, and he was well-known amongst his teammates from his days as a football player as having a remarkably soulful voice.
‘Here’s to Christmas’ was recorded at Angel Recording Studios in London, produced by Rick Clark (who has previously worked with, amongst many others, Hans Zimmer on BBC’s Emmy Award Nominated “Planet Earth II” & “Blue Planet II), with vocal production by Larry Hibbitt & Richard Scott.
On his love of music and his debut album, Kammy said: “I know it might be surprising to some, but anyone who knows me – especially those who shared a changing room with me in my playing days who first told me I could sing – will tell you what a big fan I am of big band music. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d get to record a full album, though!
‘Here’s to Christmas’ is something I’m really proud of and I think it stands up as something fun, but something that doesn’t sound half bad too – an album to get everyone into the swing of Christmas!”
Known in his days as a football player for being a tough-tackling midfield enforcer, Kammy played for teams including Brentford, Stoke, and Leeds before moving into management.
His irreverent style in analysing matches for Sky Sports’ Gillette Soccer Special on Saturday afternoons has seen him become a national treasure, presenting ITV’s Ninja Warrior UK, and appearing on many notable primetime shows as a guest.
TopicUK recently caught up with Chris and here’s what he had to say:
How did the album come about? Adam Greenup from Silva Screen Records approached my agent and said he’d heard me singing on ‘All Together Now’ and would I like to do a Christmas album with a swing band and record some tracks. I thought it was a mickey take to begin with, I thought I’d go to Silva Screen Records and Ant & Dec were going to be hiding (I’d worked on Takeaway before) and I would be given all these silly things to do and I’d be caught out. I was very wary of it, my agent Simon was saying “no, no its legit, I’ve checked them out”, but they get these legit people to go along with it. I got there and met Adam and they sent me downstairs to sing along to a song and Adam said “you’re a better singer than I even thought you were and we’d like to do a Christmas album, I will get you a stand alone single that’s never been heard before written for you and we’ll see how that goes”. Richard wrote Here’s to Christmas and its absolutely amazing, and I’m like “are you sure? with such a top quality song are you sure you want me to sing it?” He said yeah we definitely do and thankfully everything turned out ok.
Did you have fun choosing the track listing? We recorded loads and loads of songs, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, In the Deep Mid Winter, Silent Night. I didn’t have the choice on the final songs, but Richie Scott who knows how to put a swing album together got rid of those songs, they’re more hymns than swing songs.
How did it feel to be working with such skilled musicians on your debut album, was it intimating or reassuring? I did the recording at Angel Studios in London and on my way there I kept thinking how would these people perceive me, and I’m not a nervous person but I know they work at the Royal Albert Hall with the best singers in the world and how would they take to me? They were absolutely first class, they were brilliant. When you perceive something, you think they’re all going to be upper class, out of your league and if they were, they never let on as they were just normal people who were doing an extraordinary job and made me feel comfortable from the off which was great and I was able to sing with them.
You’ve got a lot of famous friends, have you played any songs to them and gotten feedback? You know I haven’t been able to play it to any famous colleagues because we didn’t want it to get out, we didn’t want anyone to put it on social media. Once the launch is on The One Show, then I will let people hear it. But one special person has heard it, Gary Barlow, absolutely loves it and has given us a line for the TV ads, giving it a really big hit, to have someone of that quality do that is just amazing.
Can you pull in one of those friends for a future collaboration? I don’t know, it would be nice. I’ve got one thing left on the bucket list and that’s to sing with Elton John, so he’s my hero and if that were to happen then my world would be complete.
Do you envisage yourself in a Christmas chart battle this year with anyone? To be honest I just think good luck to them, its not a battle between us, its whether the public like your songs or not, its all down to them. The one thing I do know is that 21 years ago the last Christmas no1 by a solo artist was Mistletoe and Wine by Cliff Richards, the only other no1 that’s been a Christmas song is Band Aid Do They Know Its Christmas and that was twice no1, so wouldn’t it be nice as Christmas gets bigger and bigger every year to have a Christmas song at no1 and Here’s To Christmas is a proper Christmas song. We couldn’t have gotten anymore Christmas clichés into that song, but it works.
Any live plans for this record? Yes there is, we will be doing live stuff between now and Christmas and if the album takes off we will move into a different sphere next year and keep on recording. If it’s a flop and people aren’t interested then at least we had a go and thanks to everyone for listening, we take all comments, good and bad!
What was the reaction from your family when you told them about the record deal? My two boys, Ben & Jack are fine, they are amazing they just get on with anything… “What are you up to next dad?” they have a little smile between each other and laugh about it, but its my wife who is the one that worries whenever I take myself out of my comfort zone, whether I’m putting myself up for ridicule, so she is very very cautious, but you need someone like that to keep your feet on the ground and not get carried away with it, so hopefully I’ll be able to look at her in the face when its no1 at Christmas and say I told you so, but she might look at me and say I told you so!
What was her reaction when she her the songs? I didn’t get much of a reaction to be honest, my kids were like “Wow sounds great dad”, but I didn’t get much of a reaction from her, that’s nothing new, like I said, she likes to keep my feet on the ground.
How is Christmas in the Kamara household? We all have Christmas dinner round here on the day, all the family about 16 of us. Some of the family will go home, friends will come round in the evening, we have an open door policy and if they want to play a few games and stuff like that, great.
Your birthday is also on Christmas day, how do you feel about that? Well its never did me any harm, but since I’ve had kids and all that, Christmas day is all about them, its not really about birthdays on that particular day so I haven’t really bothered about my birthday too much, but this year it will be my birthday if Here’s To Christmas gets to no1, it will be all my birthdays rolled into one!
Footballer, pundit, television presenter and now singer, what next? Well I’ve done a bit of acting, I was in Emmerdale, I think the movies haven’t come to me yet; the reality shows have but not the movies, so maybe one day.