The Music of Lord Graham Russell
Jan 27, 2017 04:02PM
By Alisha Soeken
Graham Russell on tour with Air Supply (Stephen Lavoie)
By Alisha Soeken | [email protected]
From the wind that lets birds
soar to the green and grey seashores of his birthplace, Lord Graham Russell was
inspired by nature. That inspiration drove the music that beat inside him since
“I remember as a 5-year-old constantly humming ‘Pomp and Circumstance’ by Elgar without knowing what it was. My love for music was always in my psyche. If I saw a beautiful view, even as a child, I would start humming something that came from nowhere. That, of course, has never ceased thank goodness,” Russell said.
Russell’s childhood in Nottingham, England was the place his informal instruction in music began. It would also flavor the music he later performed.
“I think for any artist the childhood you experience defines who you will be later on in life. Coming from England, family ties were always paramount, most of my family lived within a few streets so there was always someone coming around for a cup of tea, the kettle was always boiling. I was always making sounds on empty tins, and making a guitar from pieces of wood and string, just to hear the noise. I became fascinated by the piano in our front room but nobody played it, it was just a piece of furniture, till I was tall enough to reach the keys, then it was mine,” Russell said.
Russell not only grew to reach the piano keys he went on to master his musical craft.
“As a musician my greatest achievement has been the success of Air Supply as a group. Against all the odds we became what thousands of other bands wanted to be. I have never thought of myself as a great musician because that is certainly not true. However, I play and sing with a unique style that I did not find, it found me. My proudest moment is when I walk on stage every night and people know my songs, and not only that, the songs are a part of their lives, I have contributed to something that people love dearly,” Russell said.
Russell’s creative drive didn’t end with Air Supply’s success. While performing 130 live concerts a year he also collaborated with writers Sam Goldstein and Craig Clyde to compose an original score for the new musical “Alamo: Voice of Freedom”.
The musical is told from the voices of African slaves owed by the defenders of the Alamo Mission in Texas, a story largely untold.
“Once I began to read the research that Sam found on the Alamo I began to get hooked into the story of Joe and the other slaves. The fact that the story was very true made it so much more real to me. I began to write the songs straight away. I allowed each character to literally come to me and tell me their particular piece of the story. The Alamo project was fascinating to me, it is a part of American history that had really been misrepresented,” Russell said.
The musical was performed for the first time at the Desert Star Theater in October 2016.
“I heard about the Desert Star from actress Brittney Nielson who I met on a previous musical. I learnt that they continuously produce musical theatre, which I really thought was to be admired. I also wanted to write an original musical in Salt Lake City. I thought it was time,” Russell said.
Katie Terry who performed at the Desert Star agrees.
“Desert Star is a great space for a debut of a musical and the atmosphere there is particularly perfect for one about the Alamo with it’s western theme,” Terry said.
The Alamo project and Air Supply’s success came in part from the beating of tin pots, the beauty of the English countryside and the humming Elgar. That success will continue to flourish because of Russell’s dedication to music.
“You have to be prepared to dedicate your life to music, yet even from very humble beginnings anyone can achieve success. Success has a price to pay and sacrifices that must be made. It’s not a destination, it is a lifetime path that takes you wherever you need to go,” Russell said.