BLOG: Singing out 2017, an unforgettable year
Last year was always going to take some topping, twelve months in my life I couldn’t have drummed up in my wildest dreams. 2017 has been equally unpredictable, another dream sequence. This time, though, I was rather more prepared!*
*NB – nothing can prepare you for the moment your wife tells you you’re going to be a dad for the first time! That really was a knee-buckling surprise! More on that later.
So many unknowns swirled around at the start of this year, all in the best possible way. Winning Strictly gave my wife and me a number of opportunities – and options – we’d never had. Both together and personally there were still some big decisions to make, but I’ve always been a firm believer in making your own luck. I was really keen to make sure 2016 was the start of a new chapter and not a flash in the pan.
“Without risk there’s no reward”. A certain giant-toppling champion boxer became a source of inspiration. That mantra had certainly rung true for me over four months of Strictly Come Dancing. Even had things not gone so well on the dance floor, at least I knew I’d not have had a single regret. The show, reinforced by those words of Anthony Joshua, gave me a belief that if you back your abilities, trust in hard work and seize your opportunities who says you can’t dream big.
Portia and I didn’t have a Klitchsko to fight (our choices were slightly less combative) but, for example, had we not taken a leap of faith and moved back to London in April closer to our families but away from many of our friends in Manchester, we’d have only been left guessing what might have been; Radio 2, The One Show, This Morning, the honour of presenting the One Love Manchester Concert in June, all of which may never have come calling.
The scariest risk, though? Keeping up a love for performing. The easy decision might have been to finish the Strictly Tour in February and file ‘dance’ firmly in the 2016 drawer. But I knew through Strictly I’d been taught the foundations of an art form I’d always admired from afar and also rediscovered an affinity I’d left behind once already, in my teens – being on stage. Now a window of opportunity was presenting itself, if I was willing to grab it.
So the vocal coaching started in March. The dance lessons continued regularly. To what end, I had no idea. All I knew was I wanted to get better… As 2017 closes in, its overwhelming to now reflect on a year in which I sung and danced live on BBC1 for Children in Need, sung and danced live at the Royal Albert Hall in aid of Bloodwise and was invited by Alfie Boe and Michael Ball to sing on their Rays of Sunshine charity single, all of which were incredibly humbling to be a part of. Beyond any expectations, any dreams, it’s been an unforgettable year of song and dance. Hopefully I’ll be able to continue developing this passion project into next year and beyond.
Last year had its moments, and 2017 had plenty for our families to be proud about too. None more so than finding out that Portia and I would be parents ourselves! The best and biggest gig of them all. Not sure it’s one we can we can directly thank Strictly for (?) rather the big guy in the sky and many lucky stars aligning in the right place at the last time. And one that will hopefully make 2018 the best year yet.
There are so many things we’re looking forward to in the next twelve months, from new projects and programmes to parenting. We really hope 2018 is an exciting and fruitful one for you too. Wishing you a very Happy New Year!!!
Keep Dancing and Keep Dreaming.