Tenor’s philosophy pays off with film

Opera singer John Innes pictured in Muirhouse where he grew up. He sings in public places bringing opera to the people and has his first major concert in Glasgow in November. Also pictured is his brother Moray (white t-shirt and grey pinstripe jacket).'blue sky

Opera singer John Innes pictured in Muirhouse where he grew up. He sings in public places bringing opera to the people and has his first major concert in Glasgow in November. Also pictured is his brother Moray (white t-shirt and grey pinstripe jacket).'blue sky

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A DOCUMENTARY film about the life of an Edinburgh-born opera singer known as the “People’s Tenor” is set to be released on DVD.

John Innes, who grew up in West Pilton, has made a career out of bringing classical music to neighbourhoods, shopping centres and parks the country over.

Now his film, The People’s Tenor, has been submitted to this year’s Edinburgh International Film Festival, after which John hopes it will make it on to television.

The film will be released on DVD this summer and a contribution from the sale of each copy will be made to In Harmony Sistema, a charity that provides music education for children.

Mr Innes, who now lives in Kent, was approached by London-based independent filmmaking company Cinema Classics Ltd in 2009 and over the last three years it has filmed him performing across the country, including in St Andrew Square Garden in Edinburgh.

He said: “It documents my story from humble beginnings to producing with a top-class orchestra a product that you would normally have to engage a record company to do.

“The documentary asks the question ‘can you succeed in the music industry without a record company or someone like Simon Cowell?’.

“The filmmakers have followed me around for the last couple of years from street level up. They showed me starting my whole project by recording my first CD in my own makeshift studio in my garden shed.

“I want to show other budding musicians that, with a bit of hard work, you can do it on your own.”

The film, which is about an hour long, also features the views of various contributors from the music industry and has a poignant message about the TV talent show culture.

Mr Innes, 49, a former Ainslie Park High pupil, added: “My aim is to get the film out there and show other musicians that there’s a road that you can travel and to never give up. You can make your own luck in the world by doing whatever you have to on your own.

“After it’s premiered and been on TV, I would like to take it around schools in the UK.”

As well as his grass-roots touring, Mr Innes has performed in major venues including Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium, where he sang to more than 70,000 people.

He will perform at Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall for the third time next month. He will also perform at Celtic Park on May 13, when Celtic take on Hearts.

Mr Innes, who has never had record label backing, decided to spend his life savings from street singing to hire the creative team behind Katherine Jenkins and Russell Watson, and recorded his debut album with the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, which was released in 2010. He self-produced a UK concert tour the same year to promote his album.