August 17, 2008

Ex-Officer Blunt Has Earned His Salutes

By Nathalie Baret For the Journal

Before launching a successful musical career, 34-year-old British- born singer/songwriter James Blunt was practically a modern-day James Bond.

Like his father, Charles, a revered, determined military man who was a colonel in the British Army Air Corps, a young, ambitious Blunt quickly rose up the ranks in the army.

Commissioned as an officer in the Life Guard Unit of the Household Cavalry, Blunt, then 25, was promoted to second lieutenant before becoming a captain. One year later, he was sent to Kosovo and served as an armoredunit officer under NATO's bombing campaign, combing the front lines of the Macedonia-Kosovo border day and night.

"I come from the old-school English background," Blunt told the Journal, "where serving in the military goes back many, many years for my family." The 10th century, to be precise.

Blunt's background, certainly interesting and different, didn't leave music out of the equation, however. During his adventurous missions, he strapped his guitar to the front of his tank and performed at small gatherings at local hospitals, where he and his troops made stops to grab meals.

He even penned the track "No Bravery," a cut found on his 2005 debut, "Back to Bedlam," while deployed in Kosovo, a country to which he returns for live performances.

"I recently played in Kosovo. It was really moving as an ex- soldier to see Serbs and Kosovan Albanians, whose families had been murdering each other previously, were standing in the same room for almost two hours, singing songs together, bound by their common bond of humanity instead."

Since signing with Linda Perry, 4 Non Blondes' former lead singer who owns Custard Records, an indie label with distribution rights through Atlantic, Blunt's musical fame has reached a global scale. His success is greatly supported by his monster breakout chart- topper "You're Beautiful."

Though fame hit fast and hard, the five-time Grammy-nominated Blunt said he applies the same rule of thumb in his musical career as he did during his six years with the British Army.

"I come from a very human level in whatever situation I put myself in," Blunt said. "You know when they ask in those T-shirts the question, 'Does fame change you?' My reply is, 'No, it changes the world around you.' I know full well fame isn't a benefit for anyone on the planet. Most of all, it's a distraction from art, culture and music -- the things that set humans aside from animals."

Sheryl Crow

With special guest James Blunt

WHEN: 7 p.m. Monday, Aug. 18

WHERE: Sandia Casino Amphitheater, I-25 and Tramway NE

HOW MUCH: Tickets are $65-$85 at Ticketmaster outlets (883-7800) or or at the door

(c) 2008 Albuquerque Journal. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.