By Belinda Goldsmith
CANBERRA (Reuters) - Belgian tenor Helmut Lotti has done Elvis, sung crossover classical music, crooned to stadium audiences across the globe, and even belted out Latino and African hits.
But now Lotti, a top-selling Flemish artist with a 20-year career jumping between easy-listening musical genres, is going to try something new -- being himself.
"I am at a point where I feel like changing radically ... it is time to be original," 39-year-old Lotti told Reuters in an interview on Thursday during an Australian tour.
"I would like to stop taking popular music and changing it around because in the end you feel is the success due to me or is it the fact that I am a touring juke box? I am going to write my own stuff."
Lotti began his career in Belgium imitating Elvis Presley but changed direction in 1995 at the suggestion of his manager Piet Roelen, making a string of "Helmut Lotti Goes Classic" albums that appealed to a global audience and put him on the world stage.
Lotti said the timing was perfect, coming as classical crossover stars like Andrea Bocelli and Andre Rieu hit the charts, so he stuck with the successful formula of adapting the classics and traditional music, backed by a big orchestra.
"In the beginning it was exciting. I grasped the momentum and I was lucky. I was the right guy at the right time in the right place," he said.
Not only did his albums sell well but so did tickets to his concerts with his fan base including more mature listeners keen -- and with money -- to buy tickets to musical extravaganzas.
Lotti continued to use the formula of picking a selection of songs from a particular genre, such as swing, or geographic region such as Africa, re-arranging them and adding a big orchestra, notching up sales of 13 million albums worldwide as well as performing up to 1,500 concerts.
"But I feel that this successful formula that I have been using has lasted long enough," he said.
"I am going to turn 40 and I am not the kind of guy who is going to be on the stage like a frustrated old man who is trying to look 25 and singing the same songs of 30 years ago. That is not what I want to become."
Lotti said he had questioned the direction of his career once before, when he was about 33, but took a year off and then resumed the same path that his manager set for him -- easy-listening classics snubbed a "musak" by some critics.
But this time he said he was determined to change.
"I have never made a album that I did not like but I have rarely made the album that I wanted to make," said Lotti.
"I just want my success to be mine for a change even if that means I am only going to sell 10,000 records worldwide."
But what does the real Helmut Lotti sound like?
"There will always be some Elvis influence in my music and I like choir for instance but I would like to have it a little more up-to-date and with a bit more punch," he said.
"After 20 years, I am not going to search for the right music for my audience. I am now going to do something that I want to do and see what audience I get with that. But the real Helmut is not going to be weird or too modern of anything like that."
(Editing by Miral Fahmy)