Last updated: 30 January 2009
Actor, singer and songwriter Steve Balsamo grew up in Swansea but went on to tread the boards in the West End and beyond.
The term 'actor-turned-singer' doesn't always give the best impressions. However, Steve Balsamo is a multi-talented singer-songwriter who has also found great success treading the boards of the West End.
Music is a constant - that never changes. But what I've learnt about the business over the last few years has really opened my eyes. There's music and there's business. They really shouldnt go together.Steve Balsamo
Born to a Venetian father and Welsh mother ("a great recipe for a singing child"), Steve grew up in Swansea. However, his first forays into music weren't a great success - he was kicked out of the school choir after being told he couldn't sing.
Instead, he channelled his creative energies, and studied painting at art school. But the desire to sing was rekindled at the age of 17, when he suspected a girlfriend loved Jon Bon Jovi more than she loved him. "It sounds pretty lame," he says, "but I can safely say that jealousy motivated me."
Spending his nights playing in bands in pubs and clubs, Steve joined a local music college during the day. There, he took the lead part in Jesus Christ Superstar, which proved to be a turning point.
At the age of 21 he moved to London, and landed a role in Les Miserables. However, it didn't work out: "It was a bit of a culture shock for me," he says. "I'm more of a pints man than a tights man, and couldn't get my head round the whole experience. I came from playing with bands in clubs, and the whole theatrical thing was completely alien to me. But even though I hated it, I now realise I had to go down that route."
Aiming to become a singer-songwriter, Steve began attending a Cardiff workshop for unemployed musicians run by the Prince's Trust. He was noticed, and was asked to open the Masters Of Music Concert in Hyde Park in 1996 - headlined by The Who, Alanis Morrisette, Eric Clapton and Bob Dylan.
With characteristic boldness, Steve then auditioned for the lead in a West End production of Jesus Christ Superstar. He got the gig, and won critical acclaim. But it led to his real aim - a recording contract. Several labels were interested, but he signed to Columbia and began recording his debut album.
His first single, Sugar For The Soul, was released in March 2002, with a follow-up, All I Am, appearing in September. The debut album All I Am Is You came out in the following month. Sadly, the relationship with Sony turned sour and he was dropped by Sony immediately after its release.
Undeterred, Steve continued performing, and formed the band The Storys, who released their self-titled debut album in October 2005.