There are many tales in pop folklore about talent being spotted at work.
Alfie Boe was singing while polishing cars at the TVR factory in his native Blackpool when a well-connected company man spotted him. Similarly, Bill Withers was discovered – legend has it – while cleaning an airplane toilet.
And now there’s another addition: The Overtones. The story goes that the harmony group were singing while on their lunch break from decorating an office, just off Oxford Street, when a passer-by, so struck by this choral assault, exchanged business cards.
That passer-by happened to be pals with the Warner Brothers’ president.
Singer songwriter Darren Everest says: “The story sounds crazy but it’s true. We’ve been together for years but we were struggling to find time to rehearse together so we decided that two of us should set up a painting and decorating company as we’d done that before anyway. We could earn money and we’d get to rehearse at the same time. It was during a tea break that we were sitting in Oxford Circus singing and this lady went by and said she had a ‘friend’ who may be interested.”
That ‘friend’ happened to be a label boss. Within weeks the band were asked to sing a sample of five songs in a studio. They passed with flying colours.
But Everest doesn’t believe their success is just down to luck.
“We worked very hard as a band and played lots of shows. You make your own luck.”
The Overtones sing doo-wop style songs, some of which are classics, others are originals. “It’s really nice when we perform because the audience sing a long and there really is no greater feeling than having a crowd sing songs back at you.”
The Overtones can put Sheffield’s singing to the test when they play at City Hall on March 3.