It was one of those moments when we were scanning our Twitter feed just to get ourselves up to date on the whos, whats, and whens. We stumbled upon Tom Solomon and were hooked from the get-go. Between his classical crossover singing (perfect for the holidays!) and his infectiously happy smile, we knew we had to chat him up.
So Pra sent a quick message to him to connect (what did we do before social media, again?).
UK born and bred, Tom just recently moved to Spain so we hopped on the phone with him and got in a good chat about where he’s been, what he’s done, his French Bulldog Amigo, and playing the electronic organ, among other things.
Born in Essex to Cornish parents, Tom Solomon is the youngest of five brothers and sisters (there’s a 17-year gap between him and his eldest sister!). Growing up, he was heavy in both sports and singing—perhaps a bit incongruous as you often think it might be one or the other. He started singing at eight years old for the Harlow Boys Choir, directed by Michael Kibblewhite, and was lucky enough to also go to a school with a singing teacher who he remembers as “amazing” and “guided me through”.
Tom travelled throughout Europe with the boys choir whilst balancing in gymnastics and football. He then joined internationally acclaimed youth choir Cantate, performing at different churches and cathedrals with them.
Youth blurred into adulthood and found Tom starring in big-name West End and Broadway productions like Les Misérables, Phantom of the Opera, Chicago, and West Side Story. Ever the evolving artist, Tom has now found a spot in the classical crossover category with the release of his new album Beautiful Day.
Editor’s note: answers have been condensed and edited for clarity.
What was your “a-ha!” moment?
Mary Hammond of the Royal Academy of Music and founder of the school’s post-graduate Musical Theater course did a workshop with the choir and picked me to do a duet. She told me to keep going! I was 16 at the time.
My mother was an ex-teacher and always wanted me to have an education. She was happy to let me continue but also wanted me to get a degree in the process. So I attended Birmingham School of Music (now known as Birmingham Conservatoire) with the highly rated Paul Farrington and completed my Bachelor of Music to do classical music. I combined my hobby with a degree and it was the best choice.
Who are your influencers?
Originally, it was Michael Ball—he was the star of the moment and the first man of musical theatre for me. His career was amazing. Since then, there’s also David Phelps, an American religious singer. I’m not religious myself but when he sings, it is amazing. And Josh Groban, the American classical crossover artist who’s the number one male vocalist at the moment.
Highlights of your career?
Coming out of the Royal Academy of Music and going straight into Les Misérables in the West End, then Chicago, then Scrooge opposite Tommy Steele. All of the big musicals I wanted to do, I did.
I also never expected it but I did two contemporary operas for the Royal Opera House. We actually ended up taking one to Broadway, which was amazing. It was a children’s opera called “The Enchanted Pig”.
Winning the international BBC competition, the Voice of Musical Theatre, was also another brilliant one.
Eight shows a week means that your social life is the people you work with. You just can’t socialise with old friends since they’re working when you’re asleep.
What are your passions?
Friends and laughing. I surround myself with laughter and play paddle tennis, on top of my French Bulldog Amigo. He was born in the UK with a Spanish name, after our first family dog. He’s 5 now, stubborn and cute but probably confused!
For those with a passion, what’s your advice?
I think it would be to know exactly where you fit in the industry. To be able to look at yourself in the mirror and know that your voice fits your look as some don’t look how they sound. Know your place and keep within your casting. Also, the harder you work, the luckier you get.
The toughest part in my life was trying to create versatility within casting. Once you get cast as the leading man or whatever you do, it’s tough to get outside the box. I wanted to do classical crossover singing but never knew how to get to it after doing theatre.
Then I realised that I had to just do it myself. I’ve invested, produced, published, used musician friends to do the full circle—if you do it yourself, you can put it out there. And it’s more rewarding.
I did the whole lot, from the coding right to the end. It was such a learning curve but it’s so good to do it yourself plus you have control. I wanted to do 28 songs on the Beautiful Day album and doing it myself meant I could. I did it and it reached number one on the iTunes classical chart!
Best gift or advice received
“Don’t compare yourself to other people’s success because you will always be miserable!”
You have to just enjoy your successes and failures and learn from them!
One thing you shouldn’t do
Whilst playing Dick Whittington, we had an after-show cast party involving arm wrestling. I won…and snapped my arm in half in the process!
If you enjoy yourself, you’ll be much happier. Don’t put everything into your career—live life. Hence moving to Spain recently. Have fun, go out lots, work hard, and play hard.
San Pedro’s Ambrosia Bistro Bar—the live music is great here.
London—East London. I lived here for 15 years.
If you weren’t doing what you’re doing…
I’d still be in a creative role. I have so much respect and look up to my brother who is a children’s author. Going by the name Jack Trelawney, he’s written six novels called Kernowland and is the world’s leading visiting author to schools.
Some other fascinating bit of info about you that we definitely need to know
I used to play the electronic organ—pedals, the whole lot.
(Clearly this was something for the 1978 babies as Pra also had organ lessons!)
Check out Tom Solomon’s new album Beautiful Day here!
Tom Solomon’s smooth singing style is perfect for a classical Christmas. Throw another log on the fire, pour yourself that second (third?) cup of mulled wine, and just sit back and relaaaaaax!