Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Founder Len Mullenger:

A Dream Come True

Musical Direction by Simon Hale
Musical Arrangements by John Cameron, Simon Hale, Mike Batt and Stephen Johns
Produced by Stephen Johns
EMI CDC5 57142 2 [46.25]
 £12.50  AmazonUK £13.99 AmazonUS  Amazon recommendations

Just Beyond the Stars (Peter Pan). Once Upon a December (Anastasia). Somewhere Over The Rainbow (The Wizard of Oz). I'm Flying (Peter Pan). Whistle Down the Wind (Whistle Down the Wind) A Handful of Songs (Beat Girl) Song of Dreams. I Could Have Danced All Night (My Fair Lady). Not While I'm Around (Sweeney Todd). Someone's Waiting for You (The Rescuers) Thank You Stars (Watership Down) Stay Awake (Mary Poppins). Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid). Winter Light (The Secret Garden)

The extraordinary vocal talents of twelve-year-old Becky Taylor have been increasingly apparent to British audiences for over five years - through her appearances in Les Miserables, The Secret Garden and on BBC Television's Blue Peter. On the day this review appears on Musicweb (June 29th) Becky becomes a teenager. Happy thirteenth birthday, Becky!

We would seem to be inundated with very young performers these days but, in reality, there has been an extensive tradition of child artists catching an eager public's fancy. Amongst young female singers Shirley Temple and Judy Garland dominated show business during their formative years and the show tunes they sang were ideal vehicles for their talent. Becky Taylor falls right into the heart of this tradition. Here is a star in the making.

For three quarters of an hour of uplifting and joyous entertainment one couldn't do much better than listen to A Dream Comes True. Becky possesses a voice to capture the heart. Although she has doubtless listened to many stars of the older generation, she has carefully avoided any sense of over-sophistication in her approach. She is able to alter her sound from a soft falsetto to a full-blown, vibrato laden fortissimo with extraordinary ease and she shows time and again a real understanding of the partnering orchestral arrangements.

The choice of songs could hardly be bettered. Most are arrangements by Music Director Simon Hale who, with producer Stephen Johns, has clearly planned this album as a continuous and evolving entertainment rather than just a series of tracks. Over the Rainbow is something of a triumph and demonstrates in its innocent pleading that Judy Garland was really just a tad too old for the part of Dorothy. I'm Flying from Peter Pan in Hale's witty Bernsteinesque arrangement is truly exciting and moves without a break into Andrew Lloyd Webber's fine Whistle Down The Wind. Stephen Johns's arrangement of Stay Awake from Mary Poppins, recorded in the chapel of King's College Cambridge with the 'Collegium Regale' (presumably a made-up name for the adult choristers of King's College Choir), is highly inventive and makes full use of the dreamy acoustic. And without reference to the booklet or an eye on the CD player's display, I wonder how many listeners will notice the clever same-key link between Sondheim's Not While I'm Around (Sweeney Todd) and Sammy Fain's Someone's Waiting for You (The Rescuers).

But this album is really all about Becky Taylor. With impeccable intonation and the most subtle use of vocal effects, the then twelve-year-old grabs attention from first note to last. She throws off the nearly half-century old A Handful of Songs (from Tommy Steele's and Lionel Bart's Beat Girl) with great wit; freshens up Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head into a 21st Century classic and is most moving in Preisner's Winter Light from The Secret Garden.

This album, which Becky Taylor readily admits was A Dream Come True for her, deserves to become something of a classic. I expect we will be hearing a great deal more from this talented young lady as she develops through her teen-age years.

Happy Thirteenth, Becky!


Simon Foster

Becky Taylor Fan page

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