Duke Special (aka Belfast’s Peter Wilson) first came to the attention of First Column Management when he supported Aqualung on a UK tour in 2004.
Impressed by his accomplished performance and stunning voice (and the amount of EPs he was shifting every night), Phil Nelson kept a keen eye on his career and when the chance arose, he couldn’t resist the opportunity to work with this unique and intriguing artist.
Duke soon signed to V2 Records and released his debut album, ‘Songs From The Deep Forest’, to critical acclaim in 2006. Since then, he has released many albums and EPs and has been involved in a diverse array of projects. From writing the music for Deborah Warner’s 2009 production of ‘Mother Courage and Her Children’ at The National Theatre to composing a series of original songs based on photographs in an exhibition of Stieglitz, Steichen and Strand at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, his musical path has been a varied and unpredictable one.
In the world of theatre, since Mother Courage, Duke has written music for four shows with writer and comedian Andrew Doyle (‘Gulliver’s Travels’, ‘Paperboy’, ‘Huckleberry Finn’ and ‘Breadboy’).
Performing live is still one of Duke Special’s main passions, and over the years he has played to captive audiences across the world, often with long-time friend and percussionist Chip Bailey.
Throughout 2023, they performed a series of shows together across the UK & Ireland; these Adventures in Belfast, Adventures in Ireland and Adventures in the UK celebrating 21 years since the release of Duke’s first EP, ‘Lucky Me’.
In November 2023, Duke released ‘Blood for Ghosts, his first new studio album since 2017, bringing new life to 10 old songs discovered in an archive of sheet music in the Princess Grace Irish Library in Monaco. He also released an accompanying 64-page book, containing extended sleeve notes that delve into the journey of the songs, the recording process and Duke’s perspective on translating the songs for a contemporary audience.
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