No Regrets For Lawyer Turned Singer Beveridge

Tim Beveridge has turned his back on several years of professional career as a lawyer to try and make it as a singer. He tells MIKE HOULAHAN of NZPA he has no regrets.

Wellington, May 31 - Leaving a career as a lawyer behind him was a no-brainer, Tim Beveridge  says.

"I was only a second year lawyer and was being paid fairly poorly,'' the Rotorua-based man now trying to forge a career as a singer says.

"My first musical job paid me more than I was getting as a lawyer, and that's not saying a hell of a lot.''

Since taking off his wig and robes, Beveridge's triumphs include performing the lead role in a Sydney production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera -- one of the youngest performers to have ever played the role -- and reaching the finals of the BBC Voice of Musical Theatre competition.

He could be performing in London now, but instead chose to come home and record his debut album. While the exchange rate works in his favour, Beveridge says he didn't come home to record on the cheap.

International arranger Russell Garcia was hired to work on the album alongside Eddie Rayner of Split Enz and Enzso fame. They were partnered with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra to record an album Beveridge proudly calls a world-class calling card.

"I don't think I could have created this recording overseas,'' he says.

"Funnily enough, if I'd won that competition I would have got a recording contract with the BBC Concert Orchestra to do an album, and I'm glad that I didn't. I sincerely mean that. The music isn't original, but the album we've done and the arrangements I've got, I think it's got a good, strong identity to it.’’

"I think an essential part of me as a performer is that I'm a Kiwi. I think it made sense for me  to do an album as a New Zealander. If I'd tried to make this record in England it probably would have cost me stg100,000 ($NZ309,885). We made it for a hell of a lot less than that, and made a world-class record.''

Making that record involved a certain amount of luck, Beveridge admits. Finding Russell Garcia for example. Garcia has worked with music luminaries such as Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Judy Garland and Sarah Vaughan, but had a reputation for being reclusive and impossible to find.

Some might have been intimidated, but Beveridge made a few calls, tracked the great man down, and on the strength of a CD of his BBC competition performance got Garcia to work on his record. In return, Beveridge flew Garcia to New Zealand for the recording sessions. "I think he's a genius and the orchestrations he's done for me are just fantastic,'' Beveridge says. Then there was signing up with the NZSO. Beveridge says recording with them was "an ultimate aim'' one day, but he hadn't planned it to be on his debut album.

"I'd committed to the project before they were in the bag,'' he says.

"I think you call it serendipity -- you take the first step and other things fall into place. I'd actually commissioned some of the arrangements, and then I met (former NZSO chief executive)  Ian Fraser and it all fell into place. It's been a huge thing for me getting them involved and I think they did a fantastic job.    "I think I could have gone wrong in many places at many times. Luckily I've managed to collaborate with or get the support of some really good people... Now I look back at what might have been and what actually happened and I feel very lucky.''

With such ambitious plans and a few successes under his belt, it's easy to accept Beveridge's repeated assurance that he doesn't have a single regret about his career change.

"This is a tough career. Even when you're successful, it's tough,'' he says.

"There have been times when I've thought about the decisions I've made, people have asked me if I wish I hadn't given up law or if I could have changed anything over the last 10 years, and the satisfying thing is that I look back and say I wouldn't have changed a thing.''