Music student tours with Strictly Come Dancing star’s live band

17th May 2022

A former Music student from Stratford-upon-Avon College is touring with a Strictly Come Dancing star on their solo tour.

Richard Watson, a studio and touring guitarist, is working as part of the live on-stage band providing the music for Oti Mabuse’s solo show: I Am Here.

Rich Watson

Richard always had a passion for music growing up; picking up an instrument in school and becoming involved with different bands and shows, so becoming a musician was the logical route for him.

He attended the College in 2015/16 studying Music. Though he lived in Solihull, and a lot of his fellow school friends were going to the local sixth form, Richard wanted something more creative: “I had heard such good thing about Stratford-upon-Avon College, and how creative it was.”

However, he almost didn’t make it as he had missed the submission deadline for applications: “I remember calling them up seeing if there was anything I could do and they said if you come down to the campus asap we will see you for an audition. And I got in!”

Richard really enjoyed his time at the College: “I did loads of performances as part of the course and was exposed to lots of different styles which was great. We also did scoring to visuals like film and cartoons and performing it live which was so different to anything else I had done at that point. The diversity of the course and the amount of opportunities for performance and experience was great.”

Following this, Richard studied at the Academy of Contemporary Music in Guilford and went on to begin working professionally as a guitarist and lecturer.

The work with Oti Mabuse appeared quite abruptly. Whilst in another gigging job, Richard heard from a friend about a show needing a guitarist quickly and so he sent over his portfolio. The Musical Director thought he was the right fit, so he got the job. The show was already in rehearsal by this point, so Richard had only two days to learn the whole show.

Oti poster wide
Oti Mabuse's show is touring the UK

The show comprised of 57 performances around the UK as part of the tour. Richard really enjoyed working on the tour: “The discipline aspect is interesting as everything is heavily choreographed and specific so there is a lot of responsibility as the choreography relies on the music. That makes it so fun as you must be focused. Also working with Oti and the show is great because of how talented and hard working all the people involved are!”

Richard also works as a lecturer, so is passionate to support young people wanting to work in the industry. His advice: “It comes down to making sure you are equipped with the tools you need. Firstly, have a good handle on a range of styles as this versatility is really important; find the positive in all styles. Also work ethic is really important. You are responsible for your role. Do your homework, have the correct gear, be on time, problem solve. If the show runs smoothly people are going to want to work with you again.”

For students at college age, Richard details how you can prepare for your career now: “Have the attitude that your career has already started now. A lot of work can come from your peers you meet at school and college. So, the moment you walk into a creatively charged place like Stratford-upon-Avon College, represent yourself the best you can and work as hard as you can and that way, you will be remembered and get work opportunities in the future.”

It is great to see Richard’s success!

To see what he gets up to, follow him on Instagram @deadwoodmusic

Find out more about the College’s Music Performance & Production courses: SUAC Onstage