Leeds music maestro Paul Stone to rub shoulders with the stars

Paul Stone. Picture: Lynda Bowyer Photography
Paul Stone. Picture: Lynda Bowyer Photography
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A LEEDS singer has set his sights on Hollywood after being invited to perform at a film premiere and to meet one of America’s most successful songwriters.

Jazz crooner Paul Stone is due to sing at a VIP after-party for the award-winning film Whiplash, which premieres in London tonight. Next week he will jet out to Los Angeles to discuss working with Diane Warren, who has written songs for the likes of Elton John, Beyonce, Britney Spears, Mariah Carey and Aerosmith.

Remarkably, Paul, a former student at Leeds College of Music, has achieved all of this without a record contract – his debut album, Reprise of Swing, was self-released and he has funded his musical career so far with a variety of jobs including as a waiter, house builder and in PR and marketing.

He described the next ten days as a “fantastic opportunity” after years of graft.

He said tonight’s film party – to which he was invited by Sony Pictures – and the trip to LA represent his biggest breakthrough so far.

“It’s quite an exciting thing for us,” he said. “The self-funded route that I’ve taken has now just hopefully turned the corner. People are recognising the hard work that I’ve put in for what I love.”

Paul and his 11-piece band, which includes students from Leeds College of Music, had to learn the soundtrack for the critically acclaimed American jazz drama film Whiplash in a day. “The title track is by Hank Levy and it’s as difficult as it gets,” he said. “They’re the only guys I know who can work it up in one rehearsal.”

The film stars actors such as J.K Simmons – who had roles in the most recent Spiderman film and Juno – and Glee actress Melissa Benoist.

Then Paul is due to fly out to meet Diane Warren on October 24. He said: “Back in May I sent my CD out to Diane at [her company] Realsongs. I got an email back from her personally saying she loved the album, it was really cool, maybe I could do some of her songs on the next one.”

To rub shoulders with the winner of a Grammy and Golden Globe, whose songs have been featured in more than 100 Hollywood films, would, he said, be “amazing”.

“Her work is phenomenal. It’s a bit of a life-changing moment just to meet her. That’s good enough for me.”

When he returns from LA Paul has been invited to perform at a charity concert for Help For Heroes at City Varieties. After that, he said, he would be “concentrating on writing”.

All that jazz

The groundswell of interest in Paul Stone’s music began with his CD, inspired by Frank Sinatra and Paul Anka, who adapted pop and rock songs in a jazz and swing vein. Paul’s twist on tracks such as Don’t You Forget About Me and Sex On Fire led to airplay on BBC Radio Leeds and from Steve Wright, Clare Teal and Paul O’Grady on Radio 2.

He also sang at the Skipton stage of the Grand Depart of the Tour de France and recently shared a stage with Merrill Osmond and Billy Pearce at a charity event at Leeds City Varieties.

Sparks last performed in Leeds in 1975. Picture: Philippe Mazzoni

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