SINGER Lemar admits it didn’t take much persuading for him to be the special guest in Soul Legends which comes to Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall next week.

“I loved the title, I thought it’s pretty cool,” he laughed. “But it’s going to be such a fun show which audiences are going to love.”

The show will feature some of the greatest soul songs made famous by the likes of Lionel Richie, Wilson Pickett, George Benson and even Michael Jackson.

As guest artist, Lemar - who first rose to prominence reaching the finals of BBC1’s Fame Academy - will perform some of his best known songs from his career in which he as won two Brit Awards and three MOBO Awards.

On his most recent album The Letter, released in 2015, Lemar revisited songs which had influenced him.

“I covered lot of soul legends who inspired me so I’ll be putting some of them in the set which fits nicely into the overall style of the show. It should be quite a singalong evening.”

Lemar acknowledges that soul appears to be undergoing a renaissance at the moment with many artists turning to the style of music.

“There does seem to be a bit of a trend at the moment, “ he said. “But soul is something I’ve always been true to. Ever since I was kid people have said I’ve had a soulful element to my voice.

“I think when you are growing up you listen to what parents listen to. I was lucky, my parents were into music with that kind of vibe like Marvin Gaye and Al Green so that was always in my head.

“I’ve always been attracted to voices even if that’s with pop or RnB. I’ve been attracted to people who can really sing in a particular style.”

Lemar firmly believes that soul comes from the heart.

“It’s not something that you can teach,” he said. “You have to believe in it. I actually think that’s the most important thing. That’s why it’s called soul; it comes from something inside you. It comes from a very honest place whatever you are writing or singing.

“I’ve always appreciated a good song and a good voice. If it comes from an honest place then usually it will connect with people.”

Lemar had good news for fans hoping for some new music.

“I’ve virtually got a new album ready to go,” he said. “I’m always adding bits and tweaking things but there will be new music this year,” he said.

Lemar won a new set of fans when he appeared as a contestant on Dancing on Ice in 2018.

“Hopefully I’ll be much more in my zone with this show than on an ice rink,” he joked. “I always say my voice is my weapon of choice and I definitely prefer the stage to the ice.”

But for all his vast experience, Lemar admits to feeling slightly nervous at the prospect of appearing in Soul Legends.

“I’m usually on stage with my own band and I’ve been with them for years so there’s an unspoken understanding there between us,” he said. “In these shows there are different bands so that s a little bit nervewracking. But you just throw yourself into the deep end and go with the vibe.

“I always feel bit of pressure when I go in front of fans because I always want to give the best performance I can give. With this show I think the songs speak for themselves and the audience will be really up for a party.

Soul Legends, Bridgwater Hall, Manchester, Wednesday, February 6. Details from 0161 907 9000 or