REBECCA Newman, The People’s Soprano from York, will be the special guest on tenor Russell Watson’s Up Close And Personal Tour from March to July.

The tour of more than 50 theatres visits York Barbican on March 6, and the Scarborough Spa the following night. Later dates include Leeds Grand Theatre on June 16, and Hull New Theatre on June 17.

Rebecca stormed into the Official UK Classical albums chart at number one last September. Her independent DIY label and distribution plan meant she could barely keep pace with demand, so much so that many HMV stores sold out of stock on the first day. Since then, she has appeared on BBC1’s Songs Of Praise, BBC Radio 2 and Classic FM and secured a worldwide management deal.

Russell and his management decided Rebecca would make a great fit. “Not only do we both successfully cross over between classical and more popular repertoire, but we have both succeeded after coming from unconventional musical backgrounds and facing major obstacles,” she says.

“I spent many years as a street performer in York and around Britain and made history by being the first unsigned, self-releasing soprano to have a classical number one album. It happened as a result of sheer hard work and determination, despite knock-backs from all the major TV talent shows who refused to let me compete.”

Russell Watson started out working in a factory with no formal qualifications before winning a local talent show and cutting his teeth on the working men’s club circuit. He has had major health scares, twice overcoming life-threatening brain tumours.

“I’m so excited to be on tour with Russell and incredibly humbled he chose me as his guest act,” says Rebecca. “He understands how tough the industry can be and how you need to keep releasing music, touring and doing new things to stay in people’s minds. I can’t wait to get on the road and meet more of his fans.”

Rebecca’s chart-topping album, Dare To Dream, is still selling well online and directly to fans.

“The weeks after the release were a bit crazy as I had TV and radio appearances to record, plus several high-level managers were keen to speak to me,” she says. “I was constantly travelling on the train to London for meetings. Within six weeks, I had signed a new management deal and we set about pushing my career forward.

“However, I’ll never forget the people who really got me to where I am, and that is the fans who bought the album. I’m so appreciative of all the help and support I’ve received and I’m so pleased to see how excited my supporters have been to see the success coming. A success they have all been a crucial part of.”

• Tickets for An Intimate Evening With Russell Watson, Up Close And Personal in York are on sale on 0844 854 2757 or at; Scarborough, 01723 821888 or; Leeds, 0844 848 2700 or; Hull, 01482 300300 or