Angel Blue has got a sensational story. A lot of the people we feature on the South Bank Show are not exactly rags to riches but they go from the most unexpected backgrounds to the most unexpected heights of achievement. Angel’s background is unexpected, if you think in banal categories. One banal category is that the working class are like this and the black working class in America are like this, but if you examine them more closely, her father — the gospel singer Sylvester Blue — was Jewish: he sang in the synagogue and he preached in the church. Her mother played many musical instruments, she had three older sisters all of whom played instruments. It’s a working-class family in a godforsaken part of America, Apple Valley, in the desert, and she just started singing in church.
Angel decided at the age of 16 that she wanted to go to university and study singing and opera and as she said — she’s a very God-fearing, lovely woman — the cupboard was bare. Three sisters had gone, there was no more money, so she started to enter beauty pageants. She paid her way for five years all on winning beauty pageants. Only in America — and isn’t it great? She did a Master’s at UCLA and then was heard by Placido Domingo, who thought she had the most wonderful voice. She lives in London now, because she wanted to be more in contact with the European circuit.
Her voice is going to be a big voice. She has been well trained and well tutored and the way it’s going, it seems to be becoming a very big operatic voice. When she lets loose, the roof comes off. It’s a full operatic voice that can be on the same stage as Domingo, but it’s also a voice that draws on spiritual and gospel music.
Angel has great charm, she has terrific presence and she is still rather shy. When she sings, she stops being shy. I don’t know her very well but I think she will probably find it quite difficult to toughen up, because she’s a tender-hearted person.
I look forward to her career. You just hope she goes on and keeps developing and keeps being looked after and keeps getting good parts and that her full potential is realised. I know it sounds pious but that’s all you can hope for.