The Puppini Sisters’ close vocal harmonies and retro swing sound have been winning friends in high places – among royalty no less.
Marcella Puppini explains: “We met Prince Charles ages ago in 2006 when we performed at the Royal Variety Show.
“We had the line-up and he and Camilla shook everybody’s hands and then he stopped and came back and said, ‘Oh, it’s you. I was given your album for my birthday and I really, really love it’.
“It’s the most surreal thing that ever happened to me – Prince Charles doing a double-take when he saw us.”
Another fan is singer Michael Bublé, with whom they have performed and recorded. They had, without knowing it, become an important part of his fitness regime.
“He got in touch with us,” says Marcella. “Apparently, according to him, he had been using our Christmas album to jog to.
“He went on to listen to more of our stuff and decided he had to do something with us in the style of the Andrews Sisters and Bing Crosby.”
Marcella admits she hadn’t heard much of Bublé's music at the time, but adds: “Having met him and having got to know him and the way that he sings, I think that he is absolutely phenomenal.”
It’s not hard to see the appeal of The Puppini Sisters’ music for jogging or any other exercise for that matter.
Their distinctive “swing-pop” sound (one critic tagged it “swing-punk” because of its attitude) is catchy and cheerful, the perfect bubbly musical accompaniment to the festive season and, right on cue, Marcella and “sisters” Kate Mullins and Emma Smith are bringing their show Christmas With The Puppini Sisters to Birmingham’s Glee Club on Tuesday, December 9.
“The way that we approach our Christmas tour, we want it to be as happy an occasion for everyone as possible,” Marcella tells me.
“We encourage everyone to dress up in the audience. It’s great when the audience dance and sing along with us,” she adds.
“Our mission is for everyone to leave with a big smile on their faces.”
Since forming The Puppini Sisters ten years ago, Marcella and fellow music student Kate have brought out two albums of their own arrangements of classic songs and some self-penned tunes, a collection of Christmas hits and an album of Hollywood favourites.
Their singles include Andrews Sisters cover Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, Jingle Bells and Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend.
The trio have appeared on TV on Loose Women, Big Brother’s Little Brother, The Graham Norton Show and A Michael Bublé Christmas, among others.
The third place in the band has changed several times over the years, but since 2012 it has been filled by Royal Academy Of Music graduate Emma, whose father and grandfather, Marcella tells me, have both been big band leaders.
“She’s an amazing musician and she’s also great fun to be around,” Marcella adds. “ She’s very silly, as Kate and I both are. We have the same sense of humour.”
Always immaculately dressed and coiffured in matching outfits to go with their matching routines, the three are ambassadors of style as well as swing.
For Marcella, who studied fashion at art college and even worked for Vivienne Westwood for a while before turning to music, the look has always been an important part of the act.
“I don’t think you can divorce style and music,” she explains.” In our case it’s very apparent. There’s a lot of emphasis on the package as a whole.
“I have always thought in a stage show that it’s visual as well as oral. It’s not something you are listening to on the radio.”
Marcella insists it was never the plan that they would still be performing, ten years down the line.
“The initial idea for the band was to do a bit of harmony singing and have fun with it for a bit. It wasn’t meant to be my career, but it snowballed and it became my life,” she says. “And it’s been fantastic.”
Why does she think they have been so successful?
“It’s because we are good musicians. We create our own arrangements and we write some of the songs.
“Even though it’s a band that does music that’s mainly not original, our approach is like a band that does original music.”
Also, she argues, just as original swing groups like The Andrews Sisters provided light relief from the horrors of the Second World War, there is need for escape in these times of financial crisis and terror.
“In the war years, people needed to reconnect with their joy for life,” she explained. “It was a horrendous time and people needed to find some happiness.
“It’s kind of the same now. There’s not a war, but it’s still a very scary time and people do feel the need to escape.”
The Puppini Sisters perform at the Glee Club, The Arcadian, Birmingham, on Tuesday, December 9. Tickets are £25 from 0871 472 0400 or by logging on to www.glee.co.uk