Tenors and Divas Incognito: Geoff Sewell
While merchant banking and accountancy was in the family blood, Geoff Sewell had ambitions to take to the stage and sing.
The tragic death of his sister and a visit to Elvis’ Graceland provided the necessary impetus to put his abacus to one side and enrol at the Boston Conservatory of Music. However, after many rejections, minor TV parts, the odd modelling job and a brief part in a West End production, he returned to banking to replenish funds.
Now his four-year-old business, based around the singing talents of a pool of tenors and divas, has an £850,000 turnover, expectations of £1.2m in 2005 and £3m to 4m in three years’ time. It may sound a tale laden with cliché, and arguably is, as you can’t help but imagine a frustrated bean counter desperate for a piece of the action. But while the story is fanciful, Sewell’s musical background has ensured Tenors & Divas Incognito has been on a sound footing from the off and his success in his former profession helped support the venture financially.
Started originally as Tenors Incognito, the company specialises in hiring out its 40-plus singers to corporate events, where posing as guests, waiters, security guards etcetera, they suddenly burst into song, before performing a handful of songs. On other occasions the singers merely display their operatic talents in straight performances. The niche, which appears to have been replicated elsewhere, was to employ only those with classical voices and the looks of pop singers.
Overheads are low – no need for machinery, extensive office space or staff – and Sewell’s wife and business partner (a trained marketer) takes care of publicity. It now has bases in Edinburgh and New York, in addition to London, and has played gigs in Dubai, Singapore and Russia in recent months as well as archentrepreneur Philip Green’s lavish 50th birthday celebration, the Champions League final and Elton John’s annual White Tie and Tiara ball. China is the next target though and understandably Sewell is eagerly eyeing up the Beijing Olympics in 2008.