By nature, Duke Special is a curious person. He is curious about theatre, books, music, poetry, art, love, life, redemption, death, 78RPM records and most recently, gardening! All of this is evidenced by the variety of musical adventures throughout his career. As well as releasing records and touring the world, his creative talents have seen him involved in a diverse array of projects. These include writing the music for and appearing in Deborah Warner’s critically acclaimed 2009 production of ‘Mother Courage and Her Children’ at London’s National Theatre, presenting a documentary on the life of ’50s megastar Ruby Murray and being commissioned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York to write a series of original songs based on photographs for their exhibition of the photographers Stieglitz, Steichen, and Strand.
More recently Duke (aka Peter Wilson) has ventured into the world of musical theatre, joining forces with stand-up comedian Andrew Doyle. Together they brought a brand new adaptation of ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ to the Lyric Theatre in his native Belfast. They then collaborated on ‘Paperboy’ – a heart-warming musical drama, based on the memoirs of Tony Macaulay and set against the backdrop of 1970s Belfast. In 2016 Duke was appointed as the Artist In Residence at the Lyric and as part of this residency, he worked on writing a musical adaptation of Huckleberry Finn, based on songs written by Kurt Weill, which was previewed at the Lyric in May 2018.
In 2017, Duke Special released his latest studio album, ‘Hallow’ – a beautiful collection of songs entirely based on poems by Belfast poet Michael Longley. His poetry is full of gentleness, honesty, mischief and love, and peppered with a cast of artists, animals, flowers, friends and long forgotten soldiers. As ever, Duke Special mined a new seam of inspiration, always trying to get to the bottom of what it means to be human.
In December 2018, Duke played some very special shows in Dublin, Belfast and London – the London show at the beautiful Union Chapel saw him performing a retrospective of his work to date with a selection of very special guests, including Iain Archer, Romeo Stodart, Thomas Truax and David Ford. www.dukespecial.com / www.advocateduke.com
P R E S S
“Magically uplifting” – Evening Standard
“Duke is in a world of his own” – Independent
“This is music of magic and soul” – The Telegraph
“Sumptuous, symphonic pop anthem, courtesy of dreadlocked Irishman who sounds like The Flaming Lips crossed with Rufus Wainwright” – Q
“Emotive and endearing” – GQ
“Like fellow timeless travellers Arcade Fire and prime Van Morrison the songs favour an otherworldly orchestral arrangement” – Clash
“The duke’s cowboy-gone-vaudeville dreampop is pitched between Rufus Wainwright and The Divine Comedy” – Uncut