“old school charm and Sinatra-esque charisma”
Singer, broadcaster and author Gary Williams has been described as “a true song stylist” by London What’s On and “the UK's leading standard bearer for the supercool era” by the London Evening Standard. The star of the West End’s “Rat Pack” has performed everywhere from Bestival to Buckingham Palace. He's a favourite with big bands and concert orchestras throughout the world, from the BBC Concert Orchestra to the Melbourne Symphony. As a broadcaster he's presented and written shows for BBC Radio 2, Jazz FM and The Wireless where he hosts a weekly show. His book on stagecraft has been described as "an invaluable guide" by Playbill.
Born in Grimsby, England in 1970, Gary found his voice in community theatre and social clubs before getting his first break with the BBC Big Band. The concert was broadcast on regional radio and caught the attention of BBC bosses, who immediately invited Gary to perform in a series of concerts with the band for Radio 2’s Big Band Special and on national television paying tribute to Vic Damone. It was there he met broadcaster David Jacobs who suggested they tour the UK together with a new show ‘The Legend of Sinatra’, which ran for 12 months prompting the London Times to say, “Michael Bublé isn’t the only person keeping the Sinatra flame alive”.
After guest appearances with the Syd Lawrence Orchestra, Gary was introduced to conductor and arranger John Wilson leading to numerous concerts with the Northern Sinfonia, City of Birmingham Symphony, Royal Scottish National, Icelandic Sinfonia, Ulster Orchestra, Lahti Sinfonia of Finland and an Australian tour with the Melbourne Symphony and the Adelaide Symphony Orchestras. Other orchestral work include Music to Watch Girls By, Swingin' on Broadway, Big Band Wonderland and tributes to Frank Sinatra and Nat Cole with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Halle and RTE Concert Orchestras.
Gary has been a regular guest of the BBC Concert Orchestra for ‘Friday Night Is Music Night’ and had the honour of performing for The Prince of Wales at Buckingham Palace. He starred in the 50th anniversary concert of ‘Songs for Swingin’ Lovers’ with Ireland’s RTE Orchestra, presented by Nelson Riddle’s daughter Rosemary and subsequently ‘Putting on My Top Hat’ with Fred Astaire’s daughter, Ava. He was invited by the LA Jazz Institute to perform at Frank Sinatra’s famous Palm Springs home and for Sinatra's centenary year he presented 'Happy Birthday Mr Sinatra' with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and Hallé Orchestras.
In 2004 Gary enjoyed his West End debut, recreating the role of Frank Sinatra for 150 performances of ‘The Rat Pack Live From Las Vegas’ at The Theatre Royal Haymarket, The Strand and the subsequent European tour to Austria, Switzerland, Denmark, Germany and The Netherlands.
Other work includes a concert The Legend of Sinatra (UK tour), the Nelson Riddle Orchestra in Los Angeles with Sue Raney, BBC Pebble Mill, ‘That’s Entertainment’ a tribute to the MGM musicals with the John Wilson Orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall, the ‘White Christmas’ national orchestral tour including two sell-out concerts at the Royal Albert Hall, Gloria Hunniford’s ‘Open House’ (with Donny Osmond and Burt Bacharach), and the soundtrack for the Warner Bros’ motion picture ‘Mrs Ratcliffe’s Revolution’. Gary performed two new songs for ‘Doctor Who – A Celebration’ from Cardiff’s Millennium Centre complete with Daleks, Cybermen, and the Welsh National Concert Orchestra (broadcast on BBC’s Christmas day special and available on BBC DVD). He has appeared on Radio 2’s ‘Jazz Notes’, he's sung live in session for Jazz FM, 'Weekend Wogan' with Richard Madeley, Radio 4's Loose Ends and many times for Gaby Roslin at BBC Radio London.
As a broadcaster he hosts the In Conversation Radio Podcast, the Cabaret Secrets Podcast and has contributed on Radio 4's consumer programme ‘You and Yours’. He wrote and presented a two-hour tribute to show called 'Sinatra, My Hero' for BBC Radio Humberside, broadcast on Christmas day, 'The Art of the Crooner' for BBC Radio 2 and he presents 'Legends of Las Vegas' - a weekly music program for The Wireless.
Gary is one of the UK's most respected cabaret performers and a fixture at London's Ronnie Scott's, the Pheasantry and the Crazy Coqs. His shows include Sinatra Jukebox, Let There Be Love (celebrating Nat 'King' Cole), Hollywood Swings and That's Life. His annual seasonal show 'A Swingin' Christmas' was given four stars by The Times and five stars by the London Evening Standard who called it, “The jolliest sleigh ride in town”.
He's literally written the book on stagecraft ‘Cabaret Secrets: How to create your own show, travel the world and get paid to do what you love’, described by The Times as, “a fascinating insider's handbook”. He's written articles on stagecraft for The Stage and The Voice Council.
“Gary was terrific. Lovely voice, yes, but a wonderful sense of humour too and he made everyone in the room feel special… It’s a brilliant example of how cabaret should be done.” Debra Craine from The Times
Internationally Gary has presented concerts in Florence, Australia, Portugal, Finland, Iceland, Oslo, Jordan (for the British Council) and Japan including Birdland Tokyo.
A regular headliner for the world’s largest cruise lines, Gary has visited over 60 countries including such varied places as Alaska, Brazil (for two seasons with his Latin show), the Falkland Islands, Hawaii, China and Libya. As a presenter he’s recorded corporate films for numerous clients including Sainsbury’s, McCain, the Health Protection Authority, Seafish and Jessops Cameras.
Gary has entertained numerous private and corporate audiences at The Ritz, The Savoy, The Dorchester, The Playboy Club, Soho House, The Ivy, Mossiman’s, The Pigalle, The Houses of Parliament, Alexander Palace and Spencer House. For two years Gary and his musicians were resident at the Royal Garden Hotel’s ‘Manhattan Nights’.
Gary is the recipient the Outstanding Support Award from children’s charity When You Wish Upon A Star and was recently given the RNLI’s Bronze Award. In recognition of his work for the Caron Keating Foundation he was invited by the Prime Minister to Downing Street.
In 2017 Gary was profiled in the Sunday Times' Fame and Fortune section.
He’s recorded for the Reader’s Digest ‘Timeless Classics’ series, with the Royal Ballet Sinfonia for ‘What A Carry On’, the Syd Lawrence Orchestra and ten solo albums. 'Gary Williams Meet Frank Sinatra' was Jazz FM’s Album of the Week and has been released in Japan along with 'Let There Be Love – A tribute to Nat King Cole'. He's recorded three albums at London's Abbey Road studios, a live album in Brazil, and a big band Christmas album 'Big Band Wonderland'. His albums prompted Oscar winning lyricist Don Black to say “In a world of Pop Idol mediocrity Gary Williams shines like a dazzling beacon.”