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Dame Helen Mirren to mark Queen’s 95th birthday with album project

The Queen meets Dame Helen Mirren (Dominic Lipinski/PA)
The Queen meets Dame Helen Mirren (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Dame Helen Mirren has joined forces with Damian Lewis to pay tribute to the Queen ahead of her 95th birthday.

The 75-year-old actress, who won an Oscar for her 2006 big-screen role as the monarch, and the Homeland star, 50, have narrated a series of stories about British kings and queens from throughout history.

Each piece has been set to music by contemporary composer Debbie Wiseman, who was originally asked to create a soundtrack for the Queen’s official birthday parade in June, before it was put on hold due to ongoing coronavirus restrictions.

The Audience by Peter Morgan
Dame Helen Mirren in character as the Queen in The Audience (Johan Persson/PA)

Titled The Music Of Kings And Queens, the album will tell the story of the making of the United Kingdom through 12 monarchs, beginning with William the Conqueror and ending with the current day Queen.

Each royal will be introduced with a story from Dame Helen and Lewis and accompanied by a piece of music from Grammy-nominated composer Wiseman embodying the monarch’s individual character.

The words were written by event producer and director Simon Brooks-Ward, who was involved in organising the Queen’s 90th birthday celebrations.

Charles Finch and Chanel pre-Bafta party
Damian Lewis (Isabel Infantes/PA)

Dame Helen said: “I have enjoyed the opportunity to work with Debbie on the musical journey into royal history.

“It was a privilege to record the words with Damian and to be part of celebrating Her Majesty The Queen’s 95th birthday.

“Debbie has done a marvellous job composing and recording the music.

“We may not remember most of our prime ministers, politicians, military or even ground-breaking scientists but we will have a good grasp of our Kings and Queens who have shaped our Nation. This is their story and their legacy.”

Dame Helen won a best actress Oscar in 2007 for her role in The Queen and also played the monarch on stage in the 2013 play The Audience, both written by The Crown creator Peter Morgan.

Lewis added: “I was delighted to be asked to help Debbie and Helen narrate an image of the monarchs; the heroic, the noble and the fallible.

“To take a glimpse into the hearts and minds of those Kings and Queens, through Debbie’s emotive music, was illuminating – and very enjoyable.”

Wiseman said: “Having composed music for Damian Lewis as Henry VIII in the BBC’s Wolf Hall, it was wonderful to have him accompany my music again, this time introducing 12 monarchs that have shaped our history, alongside Dame Helen Mirren.

“Both he and Helen were lovely and an absolute joy to work with.

“I played them my pieces to show them the musical thought behind each monarch, from William I to our present Queen, and they responded with the most wonderful, evocative and stunning narration.

“I couldn’t be more delighted with the result, and to have these two distinguished actors contribute to my album is the biggest thrill imaginable.”

The Music Of Kings And Queens is released on June 11 on Decca Records.

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