Il Divo celebrate 20 years: 'It started as a musical experiment but audiences kept responding'

Il Divo are celebrating 20 years as a group this year and say they are the first to admit that they only expected to last a couple of years let alone two decades.

The multi-platinum selling classical crossover progenitors - Urs Bühler (Swiss tenor), Sébastien Izambard (French tenor), David Miller (US tenor) and the late Carlos Marin (Spanish tenor) - were originally put together in 2004 by music mogul Simon Cowell following a global talent search.

Between selling out tours on multiple continents, their many highlights include performing with Toni Braxton at the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany to being special guests that same year on singing legend Barbara Streisand’s tour.

They met the late Queen Elizabeth II on three separate occasions and were personally invited to be part of her Diamond Jubilee celebrations at Windsor Castle.

Then, in 2011, Il Divo were honoured at the Classic Brit Awards at the Royal Albert Hall in London where they were named Artist of the Decade.

Il Divo pictured with their Artist of the Decade gong at the Classic Brit Awards (PA)
Il Divo pictured with their Artist of the Decade gong at the Classic Brit Awards (PA)

“Can you believe it!” laughs Miller of their milestone achievement.

“We’re not really on the music scene somehow,” agreed Bühler, “We don’t get Grammys, we don’t get stuff like that, we just plod along and do our recordings, do our shows. I don’t know Taylor Swift, I don’t know Ed Sheeran, you know.”

The one thing that they do know is that something just magical happens when they come together and sing.

“The entire process in 2004 was really nothing more than an experiment,” Miller recalls of their first encounter with Cowell.

“Simon Cowell basically wanted to figure out a way to marry classical voices with his favourite [genre of] music - pop music - and songs that he really enjoyed.

“He went on an audition search and he found the four of us, put us in a room and said here are some songs, what can you do with this?

“His track record is very much what’s now, what’s trending and there really wasn’t necessarily a whole lot of focus on longevity so it really was you know, let’s all just make something we can be proud of, we’ll put it on the shelves and see how it does,” he continued.

“That’s all we really knew, we thought we might be at this for a couple of years, a couple of albums, see how we go and literally every track that we did, was like ‘well that’s interesting!’ Every album we did was like ‘oh, we’re proud of that!’ Let’s keep going and we just kept our noses to the grindstone and kept plugging away at it and the direction was always make something you can be proud of and the audiences kept responding to it.

“I remember after five years it was like ‘wow, we’re still at this!’ and when we hit our tenth anniversary, and we were celebrated as artist of the decade at the Classic Brits, that was when it really hit us; I think this might be the rest of our life! So here we are 20 years later, still going, still making things we can be proud of, we’ve had our ups and downs but we’re definitely still looking at the next 20 years as our career of Il Divo.”

Tragedy struck in 2021 following the death of original co-founder Carlos Marin due to Covid-19 aged 53.

Original founding member Carlos Marin died in 2021 due to Covid-19 aged 53 (Getty)
Original founding member Carlos Marin died in 2021 due to Covid-19 aged 53 (Getty)

They made the brave decision to return to touring just two months later, with Mexican-American baritone Stephen LaBrie, filling in as a guest vocalist for nearly a year of dates.

They eventually decided to make their arrangement with LaBrie permanent and earlier this year, put out a new record titled XX: 20th Anniversary Album.

They will celebrate the milestone further with a UK tour, including a date at the London Palladium on October 16.

LaBrie says he has felt “welcomed with open arms” by the fans since first stepping on stage with Il Divo two years ago and is looking forward to hitting the road again.

He said: “I think that we make such an incredible team and Il Divo’s music is so touching and I think there are different reasons to go. You go to an EDM concert to dance and to feel the beat, you go to an Il Divo concert to feel the passion and to connect to your soul.

“I think that is what people are craving at an Il Divo concert and it has been wonderful to be a part of that.”

Izambard admits that the loss of their “brother” Marin was unimaginable and that “there’s not a moment where it doesn’t cross our mind”.

He says that their desire to “carry on the legacy of Il Divo” is their permanent tribute to him, “but it doesn’t mean that we have to make it so heavy.”

They are now ready to embrace a new chapter and whatever the next 20 years and beyond might bring.

For more information and to buy tickets to Il Divo’s tour, visit