NEWS

February 2020

 

Firstly, Happy New Year to Matt Monro fans everywhere. It seems like Christmas was such a long time ago and I’m not sure whether that is an age thing or it really was a long time ago, lol. I have been working flat out and it seems as if I blinked and the month just went. Only another 48 weeks until Christmas!

2020 is a very special year for dad what with it being his 90th anniversary and the 60th anniversary of his first hit “Portrait of My Love’ and Richard and I are hoping for good things. 

One thing that is very exciting is that dad is finally going to have a Blue Plaque.


London’s famous blue plaques link the people of the past with the buildings of the present. Now run by English Heritage, the London blue plaques scheme was started in 1866 and is thought to be the oldest of its kind in the world.

Across the capital over 900 plaques, on buildings humble and grand, honour the notable men and women who have lived or worked in them. Gone are the days when people learned about history simply from reading books. People are increasingly looking for experiences that bring history to life in an engaging way and nothing beats standing on the spot where history happened.

To be eligible for an English Heritage blue plaque in London, the famous person concerned must:

Have been dead for 20 years or have passed the centenary of their birth. Fictional characters are not eligible;
Be considered eminent by a majority of members of their own profession; have made an outstanding contribution to human welfare or happiness;
Have lived or worked in that building in London (excluding the City of London and Whitehall) for a significant period, in time or importance, within their life and work; be recognisable to the well-informed passer-by, or deserve national recognition

Almost all the proposals for English Heritage blue plaques are made by members of the public who write or email the organisation before submitting a formal proposal. Happily, this has all come about because of fan Sue Merchant who instigated the proposal but it is not a quick process.

English Heritage's in-house historian researches the proposal, and the Blue Plaques Panel advises on which suggestions should be successful. This is composed of 9 people from various disciplines from across the country. The panel is chaired by Professor Ronald Hutton, and includes former Poet Laureate Professor Sir Andrew Motion and buildings historian Professor Gavin Stamp.

Roughly a third of proposals are approved in principle, and are placed on a shortlist. Because the scheme is so popular, and because a lot of detailed research has to be carried out, it takes about three years for each case to reach the top of the shortlist. Proposals not taken forward can only be re-proposed once 10 years have elapsed.

Jeremy Harte, the curator at Bourne Hall Museum has now gone ahead with the order and it is now just a matter of being given a date when it will be erected.

The site will be in Ewell at 14 Ruxley Lane where dad lived from 1961 until 1965 and the present owner of the house Mr. Sheriff is very happy for the plaque to be put up on the front of the property. We are hoping to have a small unveiling ceremony is any members of this website or Fan Club would like to attend. The timing will depend on everyone’s commitments in the next few months but as soon as I have a date, I will let you know.

The lead up to the festive season is always busy but last year I committed to doing three book signings at Telford Shopping Centre. My very good friends Mike & Ann Haines own ‘Victoria James’, a wonderful shop in the centre filled to the brim with gorgeous home accessories and unique gift ideas and they made me very welcome. victoriajameshomeaccessories.co.uk.

I had a great time and it was lovely meeting so many true fans. I had help from my bestie Sam Kane and station owner Chris Phillips who plugged it on Second City Radio.

If you missed me then you can play it back on:
https://www.mixcloud.com/radio-secondcity/michele-monro-talks-to-chris-phillips-about-the-late-great-matt-monro/?fbclid=IwAR2Rp8A686eqnHVAetHiU1DX1wBYrq7x4STT0Ci6tgjNHmpF-ncxO_33yOE

Carl Jones from BBC Radio Shropshire also came down to talk to me. His aim was to get an interview of some 7 minutes but he went away with 43! If you’d like to listen in then check out the link below.

Being a special year, I made the decision to offer something exclusively for the event, the abridged audio of my book: “The Singer’s Singer: The Life and Music of Matt Monro” on a USB stick.

I like to think that I design my merchandise with style and this time round is no different. Bound in leather and offered in a gorgeous presentation box with a magnetic clasp I am thrilled with the outcome. “Words & Music’ includes the equivalent of 3 CD discs that make up the audio book, 9 music tracks (Babycham jingle, Camay jingle, California Here I Come, Dreamdust, Lazy River, Pennies From Heaven, Star Eyes, The Nearness of You, You’re Driving Me Crazy) and 2 video clips (Born Free, My Kind of Girl)..

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Because of its popularity and demand I plan to make this available for the whole of 2020 so if you would like one then please drop me an email. They retail at £15.00 including postage. (UK only).

Would you believe the 27th January marked 10 years since the book launch of “The Singer’s Singer: The Life and Music of Matt Monro”? That is incredible and I have to admit to being really proud that so many of you were interested in learning about the man behind the voice.

What is so unbelievable is that the book is still selling by the box full. I kind of feel everyone in England must have bought a copy by now, lol. Each year I think about whether to take the books on the ships with me, assuming that demand would have diminished but I have been proven wrong several times over. Let’s hope the same runs true with my new publication.

Yes, finally after three years of blood, sweat and tears the first in the series of cruise port guides for independent travellers and disabled people is just 5 days away from the finish line. I can’t believe it myself. Every time I have thought I was there something would rear its ugly head that meant a re-write, Brexit being the latest. I know a book is technically always out-of-date by the time it gets published but the changes needed were too many to ignore.

10 years on and going gaga

Having cruised for the last 42 years I have continually been disappointed at what was available on the market. My biggest bugbear is that the cruise line doesn’t inform you where you are docking until the night before, which of course is a sneaky move to stop you being able to organize any independent tours. They constantly use scare tactics saying that if you don’t make it back to the ship before it sails it will go without you. Whilst it might be prudent to take a ship’s tour in Civitavecchia, the gateway to Rome because of a 90-minute train transfer, the same cannot be true of Madeira, where the town sits on your doorstep.

Another niggle I have heard constantly over the years is insurance. People over 70 and those with pre-existing medical conditions couldn’t find cover or at least affordable cover. It was also difficult to find a policy that would cover you for over 30 days let alone a world cruise.

According to the World Health Organization, there are approximately 1 billion persons with disabilities in the world. This equates to approximately 15% of the world population having a physical, mental or sensory disability but why should that present barriers when it comes to travel.

The world should be accessible with every person having the same opportunity of experiencing what other travellers, taste, feel, smell, hear and witness. Everyone should have the right to enrich their lives and the able-bodied should do everything in their power to make this a reality.

Now here is the shocker; new research commissioned by the European Commission, has found that the European tourism sector is missing out on up to 142 billion Euros every year due to poor infrastructure, services, and attitudes towards travellers with special access needs.

Cruising is a wonderful way to see the world and being disabled is not a stumbling block but you need to have the correct information at your fingertips. Yet another thing missing in the marketplace.

You could argue that you don’t need a book when the Internet has everything you need. The trouble is the Net is not policed. Some articles have been up years and the reader is unaware that the information is out-of-date. One example is a lady who wanted to surprise her husband, a wheelchair user, with a trip to Venice. She spent weeks doing research checking what times the bridge lifts were operational and the routes needed to see everything on her husband’s bucket list. Off they went and it was a disaster. Why? Because the bridge lifts had been deactivated two years previously.

Why print reams of paper to take on a trip when you can have everything at your fingertips within a book? That is just a few of the reasons why I decided to pen these books. “Travel Yourself: The Cruising Guide for Independent Travellers and Disabled Cruisers” is just weeks away from being a reality, followed closely by “Travel Yourself Norway; A Port Guide for Independent Travellers and Disabled Cruisers”.

Once I have put this first one to bed, it will go to a proof reader, then a graphic designer, then an indexer and finally the printer. I don’t have the exact timetable as to how long each stage will take but suffice to say it is coming soon.

Another exciting item that is only 42 DAYS AWAY is the release of dad’s brand-new album: “Stranger in Paradise: The Lost New York Sessions:

Richard and I have worked on the new album for the last 20 months and we are both excited about the release on 13 March 2020 in line for Mother’s Day.

Pre-Order Link https://mattmonro.lnk.to/TheLostNYSessions

I am now re-scheduling the radio interviews that I had to postpone because of the album’s delay and as soon as they are in place, I will give you the heads up in case you want to listen in. We now also have placements in GQ Magazine, the Daily Mail Weekend, Sunday Express S Magazine and Yours Magazine but as with all these things I probably won’t be told the date of publication until after the event. Sod’s Law. If you see one of the interviews then give us a shout.

Click HERE to see Record Collector review of the new Album

© Record Collector December 2019

Universal’s Mark Wood has assigned a team of PR pundits who are working hard to get press placements so that I can plug this new album. It is a very important release as its sales will decide the future of Matt Monro recordings. When EMI closed its doors, I had no idea that Warners wouldn’t take up the mantle and has basically left dads achieves to gather dust. For 30+ years I worked closely with Steve Woof at EMI Gold and he generously allowed me to work on the projects that I was passionate about sharing with the fans. It never crossed my mind that it would all come to a complete standstill. I have no idea why Warners bought the catalogue. It isn’t just dad that they have left hanging, there’s a whole stable of great artist’s work gathering dust.

Steve Woof / Steve Woof with Mickie and Michele Monro

On 12 November 2011, it was announced that EMI would sell its recorded music operations to Universal Music Group (UMG) for $1.9 billion and its music publishing operations to Sony/ATV Music Publishing for $2.2 billion. Among the other companies that had competed for the recorded music business was Warner Music Group which was reported to have made a $2 billion bid. In March 2012, the European Union opened an investigation into Universal's purchase of EMI's recorded music division

On 21 September 2012, the sale of EMI to UMG was approved in both Europe and the United States by the European Commission and the Federal Trade Commission respectively. The European Commission approved the deal, however, under the condition that the merged company divest itself of one third of its total operations to other companies with a proven track record in the music industry. To comply with this condition, UMG divested V2 Records, Parlophone Records, Sanctuary Records, Chrysalis Records, Mute Records, EMI Classics, Virgin Classics, Vivendi Visual Entertainment, and EMI's regional labels across Europe. These labels were operated separately under the name "Parlophone Label Group", pending their sale. Universal would, however, retain its ownership of the Beatles' library and Robbie Williams' Chrysalis recordings.

Universal Music Group completed its acquisition of EMI on 28 September 2012, followed by worldwide compliance and complete rebranding by 1 April 2013. In compliance the conditions of the European Commission, on 22 December 2012, Universal Music Group sold the Mute catalogue, previously property of EMI, to German-based music rights company BMG.  In turn, Vivendi Visual Entertainment was acquired by Gaiam and renamed Gaiam Vivendi Entertainment. On 8 February 2013, Warner Music Group signed an agreement to acquire Parlophone, Chrysalis Records, EMI Classics, Virgin Classics and some of EMI's regional labels across Europe for US$765 million. Regulatory approval was received on 15 May 2013.

For the first time in dad’s record label history his main catalogue of music has been split across two companies whereas artist Shirley Bassey’s catalogue, which should also have been split between Universal and Warner, remains with Warner alone. Why dad's was allowed to be split and not kept together no one can seem to answer. So, there you have it. For six years Matt Monro has remained in the wilderness because of contractual disputes but hopefully this new release with Universal will help us break free of the legal ropes that have quashed us for more than 6 years.

So back to the album itself. You could fill hours playing some of the iconic moments of what has come out of New York. I got the idea when putting together dad’s new album “A Stranger in Paradise: The Lost New York Sessions” coupled with a second disc of The Greatest Hits.
 
For the sessions in New York instead of an orchestra or ready-made arrangements accompanying dad, they chose the songs and did all the arrangements as they went along. The band was made up of just five musicians. The majority of the recordings made over the week were from relatively new musicals, many running in Broadway theatres at the time.
 
However, unbeknown to dad, producer Dave Cavanaugh decided that he preferred him with a bigger sound. He took the tapes back to Hollywood and engaged Sid Feller and Billy May to write brass and string scores for 14 of the songs.

When dad heard the results, he was not impressed and felt that the tracks had been butchered. He made his feelings clear to producer Cavanaugh and the whole project was shelved. This new album sees the first release of all the songs from the sessions in their original un-dubbed form, just dad and some great musicians having a blast in the studio.
 
This album is a journey, from the opening bars of the unmistakable “Stranger in Paradise” to the haunting melody of Jerry Brock’s “Sunrise, Sunset”. The journey is delicious in its voyage of discovery.  Dad has that genius of making each song his own.
 
There are so many highlights in evidence here, brimming with distinguished arrangements and superb production values that conjure up exquisite memories of a polished performer, one with feathery velvet tones and unsurpassed excellence.  Here is superb talent with no use of vocal gimmicks or corny catchphrases.  Dad relies only on his solid music ability and brings to life every song in this repertoire with the ease of a born professional.  Of course, I am biased.



Stranger in Paradise: The Lost New York Sessions:

Impossible Dream
Stranger In Paradise
Put On A Happy Face
Hello Dolly
The Apple Tree
If She Walked Into My Life
The Sweetest Sounds
Sunrise Sunset
Walking Happy
I Only Miss Her When I Think Of Her
Come Back To Me
Look For Small Pleasures
The Lady Smiles
Lover's Caravan
Beautiful Beautiful World
What Makes It Happen
The Apple Tree (Alternate Vocal)
The Lady Smiles (Take 5)
Lover's Caravan (Take 2)
What Makes It Happen (Take 5)

 

The Greatest Hits:


Portrait Of My Love
My Kind Of Girl
Gonna Build A Mountain
Softly As I Leave You
From Russia With Love
Walk Away
Yesterday
Born Free
This Is The Life
On A Clear Day (You Can See Forever)
Don’t Answer Me
Honey On The Vine
Wednesdays Child
I Will Wait For You
Georgy Girl
Spanish Eyes
When I Look In Your Eyes
Pretty Polly
Maria
The Music Played
All Of A Sudden
On Days Like These
Two People
Everybody’s Talkin’
We’re Gonna Change The World
And You Smiled
If I Never Sing Another Song

New Mixes on Disc 2.
Three songs have received new mixes on this disc for different reasons. The original mix of ‘Everybody’s Talkin’ suffered from a badly set compressor, so the new mix from the original session reel has rectified this. ‘Pretty Polly’ in its 1960’s stereo mix (first issued on The Complete Singles Collection) had a stereo delay added to the strings and everything else panned to the centre. For this set it was remixed from the original 3-track tape to a more traditional stereo mix. The final new mix is only possible due to new technology. The four-track session tape for ‘The Music Played’ no longer exists, however a true stereo mix of the backing track was made for use on the Spanish language version of the song. New software has allowed the separation of Matt’s vocal from the mono mix, which has now been mixed with the backing to create the first stereo mix of the song. Richard Moore.

 

STOP PRESS>>>>> Richard and I are working on something very very special for this anniversary year, something I think you will enjoy but I can’t say too much for the moment as it has to be kept hush hush. There are too many idea thieves about.

 

Here’s my schedule.

Cruise/ Work Dates 2020

16 May - 30 May – Celebrity Silhouette
30 May – 13 June – Celebrity Silhouette
13 June – 27 June – Celebrity Silhouette
4 July – 18 July – Celebrity Silhouette
18 July – 1 August – Celebrity Silhouette
1 August – 15 August – Celebrity Silhouette
15 August – 28 August – Celebrity Silhouette

Cruise/Work Dates 2021

4 May – 22 May – Fred Olsen Black Watch

Don’t forget to check out our Spotlight feature this month; I know so many of you enjoy them. This month we look in on the ever-popular The Byrds.

Have a fabulous month and I hope you enjoy the excitement leading up to the album’s release and more importantly put your pre-order request in now. See you in March.

Michele xxxx

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