Noah goes from boxing champ to urban rocker

Tue, Feb 1

For any aspiring musician, the path to stardom does not typically run through a cabaret act, the boxing ring, the World Freestyle Break-Dance Championships and priesthood.

Then again, it's not as though Noah takes any issue with traveling such a diverse road. He's simply enjoying the ride.

"The big word is surrender, no matter what you do," said Noah, whose single "Immortal" featuring Wu-Tang affiliates Prodigal Sunn and Shyheim was officially released Tuesday in the UK. "You don't buy into illusion, and when you don't buy into that you can create anything. We are all capable of doing everything, and when we put these limits on ourselves that's what stops us. Boxing, music, art, most of these things all sit well together. I just love finding out what talents I've been blessed with, and it's like opening a gift."

When the emerging star's album, "Five Decades Below," drops this summer, fans will hear rock, pop, soul and rap, all radiating from one terrifyingly intimidating singer armed with a world-class uppercut and an equally powerful and moving voice.

"People do say all the time that they don't expect you to be so angelic, a big guy like me," Noah said. "I do enjoy the juxtaposition or the paradox of the whole thing. I do like to change around a bit and prove to people that there's not all that it seems. There's layers and layers upon layers."

The layers extend back to Noah's childhood, when he toured in a cabaret act with his father until age of 8. After picking up boxing as a method of protection, he eventually became the Welsh Amateur Middleweight Champion (as Noah Francis). From there, he won the World Freestyle Break-Dance Championships, nearly became a priest and toured with Slayer and Puddle of Mudd.

"When you're a boxer you have to knock a guy out, and when you're on stage you have to deliver or else you'll feel the wrath," Noah said. "The discipline and the unknown of music, it's just like getting in the ring and not knowing whether you're going to win or lose."

Hailing from England and of mixed origin -- his father is African and his mother is white -- Noah similarly transcends the typical labels of musical genres. But Noah doesn't see himself as a musical innovator.

"They call me an urban rocker now, they're telling me that I'm doing something really fresh, but because I'm of mixed origin, I'm kind of a bridge," he said. "The most original part about this thing is my background and who I am . The culture, being of mixed blood, has taken me to places where I wouldn't normally be able to go, and I've been accepted on both sides of the fence."