Richard, who grew up in Portslade and went to St Christopher’s School in Hove and Hurstpierpoint College, remembers walking on stage with Collabro at the Royal Albert Hall towards the end of his time with the band – and really not wanting to be there.
But the experience of actually getting COVID-19 earlier this year has proved a transformative experience. Since then, he has been releasing a song a day on Instagram and YouTube.
His Song A Day Keeps Corona Away videos during lockdown have raised the spirits of music lovers around the world during lockdown. Just as importantly, they have also reconnected him with his love of music.
Richard fell ill with COVID-19 earlier this year: “It was pretty awful. I was in bed for a week and a half. I wasn’t as bad as a lot of other people. I am 26. If I was older or had had a pre-existing condition, maybe it would have been worse. But I could barely move. A lot of people have compared it with the flu, but the aches and pains are on another level, and tied in with that heavy breathing, I have never experienced anything like it. But I had it in my head that I am young and young people should be OK and just go along with it. But since then a lot of young people have sadly passed away with it… But then when I was better, obviously as a professional singer, I had lost all my work. It’s a job. But it is also a passion, and I just love performing, being on stage. To lose that almost felt like I had lost a bit of myself. So I decided to sing a song every day – to try to entertain other people but also to try to bring a bit of sanity back to myself.”
Richard, who sold out the Brighton Centre three times with Collabro when he was in the band, was delighted with the response.
“Many people across the world listen to these songs every day. I have got people in Thailand, in Mexico, in Australia. No matter what the genre, it seems it is helping people every day. I am not saving lives, but I am just giving five minutes of escape to people.
“It has been an interesting time of self-reflection, and I do think people will come out of this different. It has been a horrible thing, but it has forced people to take action in different ways. I am not going to say I am grateful for it, but it has given me time and space in my head and a chance to re-evaluate what is important. It has really helped me figure out what my life is about. I just feel that I have got a lot more to get up for. All my life has been about events and performances, and I really wouldn’t have much to get up for in the morning. But that’s where the online community comes in.”
And the whole experience has re-cemented his love of music. As Richard, who now lives in Mitcham, says: “We are all in a weird and turbulent time. When lockdown started I really felt I had lost my purpose.”
But through the daily song, he has refound it – rediscovered what making music is all about.
“I was with Collabro for three years. We started in 2014 and then a couple of months later, it was Britain’s Got Talent and then six months later we won it. I was with them for three years, and they are still going. But I left because it was not really for me. We were all so young and no one was really there to guide us. There were a lot of band politics. There was not really a positivity there that was helpful to me mentally. I stopped enjoying singing at the age of 23.
“I remember walking onto the Royal Albert Hall stage, sold out all over the place, and I didn’t want to be there. I didn’t want to be on the stage with the boys because I had lost my love for it. But I feel like I have almost come full circle now.”
The YouTube channel is on https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCBo1lKfqavlWYcfjDJyzd-Q
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