10:29am Thursday 12th April 2012
By Hardeep Matharu
A singing sensation from Ewell whose nickname is The Voice will appear on BBC talent show The Voice on Saturday.
Ben Lake, 33, who trained as an opera singer but has also played God in Jerry Springer: The Opera, has already filmed the audition, but his lips must remain sealed as to the outcome.
The Voice is a singing competition based on blind auditions. The four judges - singers Sir Tom Jones, Jessie J, will.i.am and Danny O’Donoghue - listen to the auditions with their backs to the singer and can opt to turn around, and offer to mentor the artist, if they like what they hear.
Mr Lake, who grew up in Ewell before moving to Norwich two years ago, attended Richard Challoner School in New Malden and started singing as a student, aged 16. Originally an opera singer, he got his big break on another television talent show - Michael Barrymore’s My Kind of Music. In 2002, he starred as God in the controversial musical Jerry Springer: The Opera, and has also starred in Phantom of the Opera in the West End.
Mr Lake has been a cabaret artist for the last five years, performing at holiday resorts, corporate events and weddings in Britain and abroad. He said: "My partner saw that there was a competition on TV which is not about what you look like, just about your voice. I have worked all my life as a singer in America and the West End and have always been called The Voice’ by colleagues so when the show came up, I knew I had to go for it.
"I am not a gimmicks guy and I don’t dance - when I sing it is just about the voice. I am a big, gutsy, traditional singer.
"Tom Jones is an idol of mine, as a young boy I used to listen to his records and love the big numbers like Delilah so going in for this audition I was as nervous as hell.
"Jones has got an aura around him. I have been lucky through my work to have met a few of my idols and there is something about them which cannot be created. Jones has something about him and it is quite breathtaking."
He added: "I really prepared for the audition as I didn’t want the performance to be over-the-top. I wanted to pitch it just right. But it reminded me of my first solo show 15 years ago - I sang well but it was terrifying. No amount of experience can prepare you to sing in front of such big names."
Mr Lake, a father of two, said he hopes appearing on The Voice will open doors in what is a tough industry.
He said: "I was nervous at the audition because there is so much to lose - singing is my life and you don’t want the judges to tell you you’re rubbish. I had a great fear of that.
"But I went on The Voice for exposure. It is a tough business and a constant struggle. Some people have asked me why I was auditioning when I already have work, but I struggle as much as the next man to put dinner on the table."
Mr Lake said his family and friends in Ewell may be surprised to see him when they turn on the television on Saturday night as he has not had the chance to tell them all yet.
He said: "I’ll always be a Ewell boy - I grew up here and my friends and family live there. I always go back to sing at Christmas and for charity events."
The Voice is on BBC1 at 7pm, on Saturday April 14.
For more information, visit Ben Lake’s website: www.benjaminlake.com
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