“I always find it a little bit difficult being completely confident in myself.” Paul Robert Potts was about to take the stage on the first edition of a new British television show called Britain’s Got Talent. His honest and self-aware comment came in a pre-show interview. It turns out that there should not have been any “difficulty” at all. When Paul Potts walked to the center of that stage and began to sing, he quickly enraptured the audience. In fact, he owned the stage with the very first notes of Puccini’s famous aria “Nessun Dorma.” The year was 2007. (video)
The audience, clearly moved by the sound of this beautiful tenor voice wasn’t alone. The judges, Piers Morgan, Amanda Holden, and the most discerning judge of all, Simon Cowell, were impressed. As the competition continued, Paul’s rendition of “Time to Say Goodbye” offered another glimpse of his classical style. (video) A reprised “Nessun Dorma” weighted his chances to win the finals in his favor. (video) But the competition was challenging. It is likely that nobody was more surprised than Paul himself when the announcement was made that he had, indeed, been selected as the winner. As the judges congratulated Paul on winning, it was Simon Cowell who told Paul he’d be in a recording studio within a week making his debut recording. (video)
One Chance, Paul’s debut recording, was finished in July of 2007 and distributed in record time. As the world began to take note of what had happened on stage in Cardiff that day, the sales of One Chance began to soar all over the world. One Chance has now sold millions of copies world-wide. It was the number one selling album in over 15 countries.
Paul immediately began receiving requests to make guest appearances. He flew to New York for a guest appearance on a network morning show immediately following the conclusion of Britain’s Got Talent. In July, Paul was invited by Katherine Jenkins to perform with her at the Margam Park Event. Oprah called that year. Paul and his wife, Julie Ann, appeared on the Oprah show with millions watching the interviews and Paul’s performance. Ellen Degeneres also interviewed Paul on her show in the fall of 2007. Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister, called Paul to Number 10 Downing Street and gave him an award for selling over 2 million copies of One Chance by the end of the year. Jose Carreras, the world renowned tenor, is credited with inspiring Paul to sing opera. Paul was invited to sing at the Jose Carreras Gala event in December of 2007.
One date was pre-set. It would be one of the most important appearances Paul would make in 2007. This performance was part of the prize for winning Britain’s Got Talent. Paul would sing at the Royal Variety Show in Liverpool. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and the senior members of the royal family would be in attendance. Paul would meet his Queen after the performance. His performances of “Nessun Dorma” and “Nella Fantasia” were breathtaking. His power and especially his passion excited the audience in attendance and millions of television viewers. He had nothing more to prove. He was for “real.” He was fabulous. (video)
And from there, things became even more surreal for Paul. With his managing team, Paul began to plan his world-wide tour. Appearances, interviews and concerts quickly filled Paul’s calendar.
Touring officially began in January of 2008 with two concerts in Rhyl, Wales. Natasha Marsh, a world renowned soprano, joined the tour with Paul. A women’s trio called the Three Graces performed with Paul in North America, and New Zealand soprano Elizabeth Marvelly joined Paul for many other venues. By the end of 2008, Paul had traveled 95,251 miles, giving 103 scheduled performances on four continents.
By the beginning of 2008, fan sites had begun to spring up on the internet. People attracted to Paul, his powerful and passionate voice, found others who shared their enthusiasm. Fans began to form virtual friendships with others all over the globe via public forums such as YouTube. From those like-minded fans came a highly active group on MySpace (Paul Potts MySpace Family), which eventually gave birth to this site: Paul Potts World-Wide Family.
One of the most astonishing performances in 2008 was at the Dome in Germany. Thirteen thousand teenage fans were in attendance. Paul performed a classical piece for these young people. “Nessun Dorma” probably has never made it to MTV or its equivalent anywhere. The fan’s screaming volume prevented Paul from hearing himself or the orchestra. He just kept singing, hoping the orchestra was in a similar place.
At home in Wales, Paul and Julie Ann had purchased their “forever” house in September of 2008. It required long neglected maintenance and personal touches to make it their own. Julie Ann missed some trips while she oversaw the renovations at home. Finding and purchasing one’s own “forever house” isn’t easy while traveling the world, but they managed it.
The year 2009 was just as busy as the previous year. In February, Paul released a second recording, music that Paul believed would express and underscore the passion of the composers and writers. He called it Passione. It fit, precisely, Paul’s personal vocal style.
Once again, Paul and Julie Ann were globe hopping from one continent to another. Paul gave over 70 scheduled full concert appearances and many more private sessions and guest appearances that year. It was also a year of awards.
In February, Paul agreed to appear in Germany for a guest appearance on the ECHO awards program. He also had been nominated for an ECHO in two categories, which seemed a bit incongruous given that one category was in rock/pop. Once again, Paul admits to being overwhelmed as he actually was named Best International Male Artist Rock/Pop. His performance just following the announcement was one of the most emotional renditions of his career. (video)
In March, Paul was nominated for the German Regenbogen award. Paul was again astonished to be recognized with such a prestigious award.
Oprah called again. She had invited Paul in 2007, but now it was 2009. It was the second time Paul was invited to the Oprah show. This time he was listed as one of Oprah’s favorite performers. It was a quick flight to Chicago to film the guest appearance before doing taping back home in Port Talbot and then off to Australia.
2009 was also a time for Paul to consider his third recording. He was prominent world-wide. A business decision to change recording companies was in the works.
The long awaited announcement concerning the third recording was made. It would be called Cinema Paradiso, to be released in September of 2010. This time Paul had more artistic control over the album. He wanted it to be comprised of music made famous in movie scores. Japan released Cinema Paradiso first. Since then it has been released in over 20 countries.
2010 was a year for Paul to show even more talent. He began to dabble in photography, a hobby that has grown to a new artistic level. In addition, Paul found time to be even more involved with charity events. He was, again, performing all over the world. This time, though, he would take time to visit children’s homes, hospitals, and other venues to offer his gentle kindness for the people of the world.
In January, 2010, the earthquake which devastated Haiti had come to the attention of the world. Paul, with more than 20 other British classical musicians, recorded “The Prayer” for relief fund-raising for the victims of the earthquake. (video) In addition, Paul vowed to walk 190 miles from his home in Port Talbot to London with people sponsoring his walk. The walk would end at the Royal Albert Hall where a relief concert for Haitian victims, especially children would be held. Paul’s goal was 20,000 pounds.
Paul is no stranger to charity efforts. He became aware of Melanie Davies and her husband, her personal story, and her charity efforts. Having read Davies book called Never Say Die, Paul was moved to support her charity called Treat Trust in Wales. Paul serves on its governing committee along with actor Michael Sheen, another celebrity supporting Treat Trust.
When an earthquake devastated Christchurch in New Zealand, Elizabeth Marvelly called. Elizabeth had accompanied Paul on tours over the years. Christchurch was the site of the first performance Paul had in that part of the world. Paul flew to perform and help this beautiful city rebuild and recover.
It is no secret that Paul Potts is no longer the shy, slightly disheveled man who appeared on Britain’s Got Talent in 2007. He was a mobile phone salesman and sales manager of the Carphone Warehouse in Bridgend, Wales. He was in grave financial difficulty. He was married to the love of his life, and she shared the most challenging years while Paul was recovering from a serious accident, illness, and multiple surgeries. But their lives—and ours—changed forever with Paul’s appearance on Britain’s Got Talent.
It is a testament to Paul’s work ethic that he continued practicing his music, singing in a small storage room while working full time miles away from their home. Those were the early days before Britain’s Got Talent. He appeared in amateur opera, singing the tenor lead in several productions with the Bath Opera, among others, but often had to bear the expense of participation.
It is a testament to Paul’s personal ethic that he is determined to stay true to who he is and not change. It is a testament to Paul’s commitment to his audiences that he will appear, sometimes through personal pain, and hasn’t canceled a performance yet. It is a testament to Paul who meets and greets everyone who wants to meet him after performances and more, even if it takes hours. It is a testament to Paul’s personality that he is moved by those in need and does what he can to help. It is a testament to Paul that he is and remains committed within his marriage to Julie Ann. It is a testament to the fact that Paul has remained the man who he has always been despite world-wide stardom.
This site and others pay tribute to a most unique man, one of courage, tenacity, wonder and awe. Enjoy your visit here.
Paul Robert Potts
Born October 13, 1970
Married Julie Ann Cooper in May, 2003
Graduated with honors from University College Plymouth, St. Mark and St. John 1993 majoring in Humanities.
Introduced the world to opera in an accessible form from July 2007.
World class tenor, amateur photographer, philanthropist, and so much more.
(Huge thanks to Shirley Andrews for writing this loving tribute to Paul!)