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Friday, 28 November 2014

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Musician Luke is on the crest of a wave

A YOUNG Whitehaven musician is “making the most of every opportunity” as he entertains holidaymakers on cruise liners around the world.

By Sarah Robinson

Pianist and guitarist Luke Yates has spent the past year working as a musician – and visiting over 40 countries.

During a short break in his hometown, the 23-year-old has spoken to The Whitehaven News about his music, travels and lucky breaks.

Since last year, Luke has worked on cruise liners around the Mediterranean, the Baltics and the Fjords.

“The work itself is wonderful,” he says. “Performing almost every single night for over nine months straight was challenging but great for improving me as a musician and it was just so much fun.

“I’m really blessed to be able to fulfil my passions and get to see so much of the world in the process.”

Luke’s lucky break came when he was spotted by a millionaire businessman while busking in Ireland. The man, the owner of a media company, gave Luke 300 euros to buy a camera to video his performance, which was passed onto music moguls.

Weeks later, the young musician was contacted and was offered the chance to work on the first of numerous cruise liners.

Working on the ships is a seven-nights-a-week job, says Luke, although he has the opportunity to visit tourist destinations during the days.

He has around 700 songs in his repertoire spanning genres and decades, by music legends including Billy Joel, Sir Elton John, Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles.

So what’s most enjoyable about working on the ships?

“You meet lots of people each time who have their own stories,” says Luke.

“You have amazing conversations. A lot of the musicians in my job are usually much older – and long in the tooth! If someone comes to chat with me, I see it as a privilege.”

He added: “It’s really good for making friends. Although you are travelling all over the world, when you stop at a port, you see everyone from the ship. It’s like being a local all around the world.

“I’ve had some amazing experiences that were totally out of the ordinary.”

His memorable moments include spotting dolphins swimming alongside the cruise liner while he was performing near Gibraltar, to being at a party on the top deck of the ship in the Arctic Circle at 3am – and it was still daylight.

He also met his girlfriend, Christiane, while he was on the ship cruising the Med as she was working onboard as a hairdresser.

Luke says he has learnt so much over the past 12 months – especially “making the most of every opportunity” and growing in self-confidence.

He now has seven agents – three in the USA and four in the UK – who are finding more work opportunities for him.

And he thanks friends and family in Whitehaven for their support over the years.

He said: “I think my life has been full of lucky breaks. I feel so overwhelmed. It would be disrespectful to the people who are helping me if I don’t make it a success.”

He has just released an album, Acoustic Cover Collections (Vol 1), which features a range of songs from a host of stars including Mumford & Sons, Nina Simone, Barry Manilow, Adele, Leonard Cohen and Burt Bacharach.

He has played all the instruments on the album, bar one track for which local musician John Marcangelo played the drums.

Most of the tracks are performance style and the majority were recorded with one take and minimal edits. He had the opportunity on numerous tracks to spend longer in developing orchestral arrangements and multi-layered harmonies.

“One of the tracks even has a hint of a vibraphone that was owned by Carnegie Hall. Those songs were by far the most enjoyable to record,” he said.

Luke recently performed a farewell gig at The Stump, in Kells, Whitehaven, and launched his album. He is now working on the Liberty of the Seas, a Royal Caribbean cruise ship.

To buy Luke’s album, go to www.pianovocalist.com

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