EIGHT QUESTIONS WITH PAUL POTTS

Opera singer Paul Potts tackles Guns N' Roses

Paul Potts has his feet firmly on the ground even after eight successful years after winning Britain’s Got Talent.
Paul Potts has his feet firmly on the ground even after eight successful years after winning Britain’s Got Talent.PHOTO: MAX DODSON

Britain's Got Talent winner Paul Potts takes on rock classics such as November Rain in his new album

Eight years after winning the first season of reality talent competition Britain's Got Talent, singer Paul Potts still gets the jitters every time he is on stage.

"It still scares the living daylights out of me. But I think life's got to scare you or you don't take it seriously," says the soulful operatic tenor.

During a telephone interview with Life, it is clear that despite selling more than five million records and performing over 600 concerts since his win, Potts still has his feet firmly planted on the ground.

The affable 44-year-old has also performed for the Queen of England twice, had a film (One Chance, 2013) made about him and written a memoir.

He repeatedly expresses his gratitude to the reality programme for changing his life for the better.

"The show gave me an opportunity I could never have dreamt of. It's given me a life I never would have had otherwise."

Married to housewife Julie-Ann Potts, 35, and based in South Wales, he recently released his fifth album Home, a mixed bag of tracks where he subverts the preconceptions of musical genres by taking on songs by rock bands such as Guns N' Roses and Foo Fighters.

He says: "There are risks involved when you challenge genres, but I've always felt very strongly that music isn't about divisions. I see genres as artificial boundaries."

In the album, fans can listen to the opera supremo as he adds his refined touches to classics such as Guns N' Roses' November Rain and The Eagles' Desperado.

At this point of his career, Potts aims to test his limits.

The philosophy and theology graduate says: "It's like climbing a mountain - you have that wonderful view from the top, but what you don't want is go downhill.

"You've got to keep challenging yourself or you will stagnate."

1 Which was the most challenging track from Home to sing?

November Rain by Guns N' Roses, which my wife suggested I tackle. I'm not much of a risk taker so I wasn't sure if it was going to work, but when I sang it on tour in Britain, the audience unanimously loved it.

2 You say that music should not be bound by divisions, so do you listen to all genres?

Besides opera, I enjoy rock too. My wife's a bit of a rock chick so she decides what we listen to in the car.

I like anything that you can describe as music, but hip-hop is just not for me. I recognise the talent that is involved but I'm not a fan.

3 Do you ever tire of people asking you about Britain's Got Talent?

Absolutely not. It's where I began and it's important to remember where you started and the people who enabled you to get where you are.

I always look back on the show with great fondness and am happy to be associated with it.

There is talk that they might reunite all the winners to do a special show. I have expressed my interest to participate, but let's see when it happens.

4 What is your most memorable performance to date?

There's been many that I can't just name one. The final of Britain's Got Talent was where everything began so that will always remain special.

Having the honour to perform for the Queen, not once but twice, was amazing too.

Performing in front of more than a million people on New Year's Eve in 2011 in Berlin was just crazy.

The fact that I could not see the end of the crowd just made that an unforgettable night.

5 You are every bit the celebrity now, but is there any one star that made you go weak in the knees?

I have met quite a few, but the one who has made the biggest impression on me is actor Richard Gere. He is annoyingly good-looking.

You'd think, it's not right, he shouldn't be this good-looking so that must mean that he is an absolute nightmare. But he isn't. He was incredibly charming and there were no airs. It was great to meet him and I got an autograph for my wife.

6 Will we get to see you in concert here soon?

I have connected twice this year at Changi Airport but never crossed immigration. I'd really love to come and perform there soon, though.

I don't know much about the country, but you fellas drive on the correct side of the road, which is reassuring.

7 You have sold more than five million records, had a film made about you and written a memoir. What is next?

I just want to be able to continue doing what I love and am incredibly grateful for those who have enabled me to have such a long career thus far.

To have one successful year is fantastic, but to have eight is incredible.

8 How would you like to be remembered?

That's a really hard one - you certainly saved the toughest question for last. I would like to be remembered as someone who faced his fears and just kept going.

• Home is available on iTunes and digital music stores.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 27, 2015, with the headline 'Guns N' Roses for operatic star'. Print Edition | Subscribe