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13 November 2014

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You are in: Somerset > Entertainment and Leisure > Music > News and Features > From teaching to music star: meet Charlie Landsborough

From teaching to music star: meet Charlie Landsborough

From being a primary school teacher for over 20 years to playing concert halls across the globe, singer-songwriter Charlie Landsborough made quite a career change. We caught up with him as he prepares for his performance at Weston's Playhouse.

Charlie Landsborough  (pic Judy Totten)

Charlie plays Weston on 19 October

For singer-songwriter Charlie Landsborough, 66, touring has always been the main focal point of his life.

He has played at major concert halls and theatres including the London Palladium and has won awards including Best Songwriter and Best Album at the UK Country awards.

But before he was discovered, when Charlie was working as a primary school teacher in Birkenhead, he was spending all of his free time (including school nights) touring the country.

"[Touring] is a real joy. People often ask me what’s the best musical aspect of the life I lead and it is definitely performing in front of people," he said.

"That’s what music is all about. There’s nothing nicer than to do the thing you love and for people to go out of their way to listen to you and to respond favourably to what you're doing. Touring is a joy to me."

And it's his fans which drive him: "Anyone who despairs of mankind should come on the road with us because we meet wonderful people from all walks of life - from children to old-age pensioners - and they shower you with kindness. Someone once said Charlie Landsborough hasn't got fans he’s got friends which I think is a much nicer and more apt way of describing them."

'Band of gypsies'

Charlie travels to each concert immediately after the previous one so that he can explore the next destination (and avoid motorway traffic).

So will he be visiting Weston's fire-ravaged Grand Pier?

Charlie Landsborough  (pic Judy Totten)

He has won several awards

"If I have a chance I'll have a look. I was a bit saddened by that. Although we haven't been on it, for a feature like that to disappear from a town it’s obviously very important to Weston so it’s very sad.

"I’m a frequent visitor to Weston, we love the theatre. It’s a lovely place to come to. The audience there are smashing so it’s something we really look forward to."

Although Charles spends a lot of his year on tour, he doesn't get homesick as he travels with his wife Thelma, son Jamie and his best friend who all act as his tour manager and generally look after him. The only thing he misses is his grandchildren.

"There’s certain aspects which they don't enjoy – travelling around late at night when you're very tired is a bit difficult but I think generally they like it.

"I said to my son when he was complaining, someday you'll look back at this and realise how good it was because we have a great laugh on the road and we meet wonderful people and we're travelling the country, like a band of gypsies but it’s most enjoyable."  

Diverse musical tastes

Charlie's music is difficult to categorise. His music encompasses folk, country, rock 'n' roll and even gospel.

"I've got very diverse musical tastes and I love great songwriters like Dylan and The Beatles," he said.

"Lyrics and words have always had a big impact on me. I draw inspiration from things people say, from things that happen. Sometimes I start with a piece of paper and I don't know what I’m going to do and I hope some idea will emerge.

"I write constantly. Much of it is very mundane and rubbish but it’s worth it for the odd occasion when you do write something which moves or touches somebody and that’s the ultimate drug because all you want to do is repeat the process.

"There’s nothing nicer than to bring pleasure to other people through something you love yourself."

Questioning faith

What does inspire him and is central to his life is his faith.

"I'm a great believer. It does influence everything I do – it influences my music, although when I do a show there’s only one reference to him in the whole evening, perhaps there should be more but I think people come out to listen to your music.

Charlie Landsborough on stage  (pic Judy Totten)

Charlie was a teacher for 20 years

"I don't think they come out to listen to you pontificate or to push something down their throats, they come to listen to you sing. The thread of my belief is there to be heard. Some of it is overtly there – Christian songs like Who is this man? And Saviour Song but a lot of it is ballads and country music," he said.

His faith was tested however in 1995 when he was trying to forge a career in music while holding down a full-time job as a primary school teacher.

"I was arguing with the Almighty Lord saying you gave me these gifts and everywhere I turn I get rejected, why did you give them to me if I’m not supposed to use them?"

Mixing his day job with his music was difficult. Charlie used to write songs for the school assemblies and plays.

"To balance the two was very difficult because sometimes I'd be playing somewhere like Great Yarmouth and I'd be getting home at something like five in the morning and then to have to go to school which is not the best way for teaching or to pursue a musical career but I took it wherever it took me.

"So I sort of said in 95, 'I give in, your will will be done but if it’s to be a primary school teacher in Birkenhead you'll have to help me because I hate it'. And it’s almost as if from that point that things began to happen so perhaps he was waiting for a submission but the belief is there and it always will be."    

So what's next? He'd like to make a mark in America and he's going to finish recording the new album in Spain as well as embarking on a Mediterranean cruise with some Irish crooners. But until then, several months of greasy spoons await him and he can't wait.

Charlie plays Weston's Playhouse on 19 October.

last updated: 12/09/2008 at 18:23
created: 12/09/2008

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