YORK soprano and songwriter Rebecca Newman will launch her most ambitious album to date at the Grand Assembly Rooms on September 14 in her bid to top the British classical charts.

The People’s Soprano has spent 18 months in creating Dare To Dream, a record that features a live orchestra, some heavy hitters from the classical and pop music world, plus collaborations with Blake and soprano Mary-Jess Leaverland, British winner of the Min Xing Chang Fan Tian, China's answer to The X-Factor, in 2009.

"Making this album has been beyond my wildest dreams," says Rebecca, who mobilised her loyal online fanbase to win a global music competition in February 2014 by a margin of more than 20,000 votes.

"I'm now hoping to build on that success by selling enough copies to make me a real contender for the top of the UK Classical Artists Chart."

Dare To Dream is named after Rebecca's own composition, a song she describes as a blend of light opera, traditional folk and pop, an unconventional combination that mirrors her musical journey from York student and busker to singing with Russell Watson and Aled Jones and performing live on international television at last year's Rugby League World Cup.

The latest leap forward is recording with the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, arranged and conducted by Paul Bateman, Sarah Brightman's musical director.

"The orchestra has been treated very sensitively to ensure the album has a live, natural quality to it, so you could imagine you were in the same room as me, listening to me singing with a full orchestra," says Rebecca, whose orchestral sessions were directed by James Fitzpatrick, who discovered South Yorkshire soprano Lesley Garrett.

"As a prolific live singer, it was important for me to get that atmosphere across in the album. I’ve been careful to choose songs that haven’t been recorded many times by the big mainstream classical stars, apart from a few favourites, like The Prayer, for which I drafted in the help of the incredible Classical BRIT Award winning vocal group Blake, and Sull'Aria, from Mozart's The Marriage Of Figaro, which I've sung with Mary-Jess Leaverland.

"I first learnt it to sing at a wedding because the couple were big fans of the filmThe Shawshank Redemption, where it featured in the scene when opera is played over the exercise yard. "

Rebecca has "uncovered some little treats" too.

"There's a 20th century Italian aria called Rondine al Nido (The Swallow Of Summer) that's never been released by a soprano; it's in the style of Neapolitan song but draws on influences from late Romantic composers, so it sounds like Puccini," she says.

"I’ve included two new, original songs too. One is Heroes To The World, which I opened the Yorkshire Marathon with in 2013 and re-recorded for the Tour de France with more than 1,000 voices from across the county. The other is Dare to Dream, which reflects my own personal journey and, I like to think, offers a musical hug for anyone feeling down or despondent.”

Rebecca has financed the album through years of concerts, private bookings and street performances in York. "And there's also a new phenomenon called ‘crowdfunding’, where some of my supportive fans, who have wanted to see me succeed, have helped to fund the record," she says.

"If someone had told me two years ago that I would be able to make this kind of investment in my album and marketing, I would never have believed them. I've made my dream album, and one I think my audience will enjoy because I’ve listened to their feedback over the years about what they want to hear.

"I just need the people of Yorkshire to get behind me and buy the album to show the industry that you don’t need to be on a TV talent show or land a major record deal to make good music and be appreciated by music lovers.”

Rebecca has shot her latest her music video and television advert in Venice, where she was joined by students from the Northern Film School at Leeds Metropolitan University. "Their videos will be available to view online very soon," she says.

The September 14 album launch at the Grand Assembly Rooms, home of the ASK Italian restaurant in Blake Street, will require the Italian restaurant to be closed to the public during the day. Rebecca will perform songs from the album at 2pm and tickets are available at £15 or £45 for VIP tickets that include a drinks reception and three-course meal.

Tickets can be booked on rebeccanewman.co.uk, by phoning 0800 084 8387 or 01904 623568 or at the Theatre Royal box office. "VIP guests should arrive from 11.30am and these tickets are limited, so early booking is essential," she says.

Dare To Dream is available from Rebecca's website in a standard CD version at £10.99 or as a special edition with a bonus DVD and extra songs at £15.99 and soon will be sold through Amazon.com and iTunes too.

For anyone unable to buy online, there is a dedicated information line on 0800 084 8387. The album can be ordered now.

“I've put my heart and soul into this album and I can’t wait for people to hear it," says Rebecca. "If I get a good chart position in September, it will be a victory not just for me but for all the thousands of people over the years who have supported me. I hope I can make them proud.”

A New York City concert awaits Rebecca later this year. In the meantime, Rebecca Newman and Friends will take part in a Songbirds concert for the Educate The World charity on September 6 at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York. Joining Rebecca at 2pm will be fellow classical-crossover singers artists Mariette Davina, Eden, Danielle Thomas, Scarlett Quigley and Mary-Jess Leaverland. Tickets cost £16, concessions £15, on 01904 623568.