camillaYou founded the charity “Sing for Breast Cancer”. Tell us what inspired you to get involved with this important cause.
In the summer of 2011 my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. I decided to take a sabbatical to care for her and during that time {which in the end was about 2 years} we discovered first-hand how healing singing and music could be to a cancer patient.
I formed my Sing 2 Beat Breast Cancer choir to get breast cancer sufferers, past and present, singing and to raise lots of money for Breast Cancer Campaign the best way I knew how!
You played the role of Cosette opposite Nick Jonas in the 25thanniversary production of “Les Miserables.” What was that experience like?       
Being on the west end was one of my career highlights. I remember being more excited stepping back stage at the Queens theatre than I was singing on the pitch at Wembley. It was also a completely new challenge, something to really get my teeth into.

 About the character of Cosette herself, many people tend to see her as being less complex than Eponine. Having played her, do you agree or disagree? Also tell us what similarities, if any, you share with her?
Cosette is the most central character in the piece. She is the cause of Marius’s, Fantine’s, Jean Val John and to a lesser extent Eponine’s actions throughout the musical. Yet she’s only on stage for 22 minutes! Such a short time to prove to the audience that she is worth the other characters adoration and sacrifice. She is soft and loving but underneath that is made of very strong stuff indeed and endures what many could not.
Cosette and I are polar opposites. Playing her wasn’t easy. Sometimes, during rehearsals, her placidity really irritated me. If she was a friend of mine I’d be like “Run away from your father and marry!
You’ve performed with the tenors, Alfie Boe, Russell Watson and Andrea Bocelli. What was special about each one of them?
I was very new and inexperienced when I did the summer tour with Russell. At the same time I was in rehearsals for Les Mis, touring with the Priests and trying to make my second album so my overall feeling of that period was one of enormous stress and pressure which is a shame.
Everyone loves Alfie! What can I say? His voice is beyond powerful, I have no idea where he gets his strength/energy. He sure gave the musical theatre actors a singing masterclass!
Andrea has a very soft, relaxing energy. It’s peaceful (but also thrilling) to perform with him. He was almost fatherly in his encouragement and support of me on stage.
You currently have collaborated with Blake on a single of “You Raise Me Up” to be released in support of your charity. What made you choose that song?
It’s a gorgeous uplifting song. Everyone knows and loves it and I thought it suited our message perfectly.
Your discovery story was very interesting in that it showed an incredible amount of dedication on your part. What advice would you have for young singers who are trying to break into the business but so far have been rejected?
Just keep going. The most successful people in the music business are the ones who stick at it. Try to have fingers in as many pies as possible so when one musical bubble bursts (and they always do!) you’ll still have enough going on to keep you going
Are you still actively training your voice?
I’ll never stop training. Your voice is a muscle just like any in your body. The more you use it the better it becomes. Also its constantly growing and changing. There are so many things I can do vocally now that I wouldn’t have dreamed of even 3 years ago!
You won ITV’s “Sing if you can” competition. As someone who made it in a more old fashioned way, what did you think of the reality TV experience? And if you hadn’t been successfully discovered by Gary Barlow, do you think you would have tried out for the X Factor or Britain’s Got Talent?
I did Sing if you can because it was a charity show. In the end I think we won nearly £400,000 and I feel very proud of that. It was blimin’ good fun too!
I find reality “talent” shows quite demoralizing if I’m honest. It doesn’t matter how well you sing if you’ve not got a good enough sob story you won’t get through.         I feel sorry for the way the contestants are treated and all the empty promises that are made to them. So no, I most definitely would not audition for one.
 On your first album you covered, “Rule the World” which is a pop song that was translated into Italian. How do you personally think the change of language benefited the piece?
I think language change when you switch pop songs to crossover makes them far more accessible to the British public. Let’s face it, unless you’re singing Gilbert and Sullivan or the national anthem, English is not the language universally expected from a classical singer.
When you first hear a song that you want to cover, do you immediately imagine it in your style, or do you have to play around with other arrangers?  
I normally have a try myself first and fiddle about with keys, tempos and stuff. Once I’ve played it through a few times and there’s a frame work in place I take it to an arranger and they do their musical magic!
How do you stay healthy while on the road touring? (both physically and vocally)
Touring is tough on your voice, there’s no two ways about it. The lack of sleep combined with lots of travelling, singing and terrible food can be a recipe for disaster.
I try to exercise and sleep as much as I can, take lots of vitamins and make sure I have super healthy breakfast and lunch to make up for it. No drinking, fatty food or excess talking. I basically hermit myself for 2 months and I’m still always sick for at least a week after regardless of how good I’ve been!
There’s been a lot of debate about sexuality in the music business recently. Although classical music has traditionally been more about the music, there has been an attempt in the last few years to make it more sexy. What are your thoughts on the issue?
Regardless of how the current crop of classical musicians look there’s no denying their talent. I think that is what should be focused on. Everything else is just decoration.
Do you feel that as a woman it is harder to be taken seriously as an artist?
I think as a woman it’s harder to be taken seriously as anything other than our specific gender role stereotypes. I was shocked when Vasily Petrenko said male conductors were better for orchestras because of  how distracting a “cute girl on the podium” can be. This is the message we’re sending to the up and coming talent in the national youth orchestra?! It illustrated beautifully how deeply sexist the classical music world still is. We must all change our views if we want an equal future for our beloved industry.

 
For more information about Camilla please visit her official website camillakerslake.co.uk. Her album, “Moments” is available to purchase in the UK now. All photos are © the official website.