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Aled Jones at Westlands

Aled Jones at Westlands
posted 20 Feb 2024

He’s been ever-present in our lives for more than 40 years. Aled Jones burst on to the scene and enjoyed remarkable success as a boy singer, finding a permanent place in all our Christmases with his smash hit, Walking In The Air.

He was the boy treble who captivated the world with his angelic voice. Selling over seven million albums, Aled was the original, classical crossover star. His recording from the animated film The Snowman, firmly established him as a household name and he has become an integral part of the nation's festivities.

Equally at home on the classical stage, or starring in musical theatre productions in London West End, his credits include lead roles in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Irving Berlin’s White Christmas. As a singer, Aled is in demand globally and has performed in the world's most iconic venues, from London’s Royal Albert Hall to the Sydney Opera House.

A favourite with the Royal Family, he even gave a private performance to King Charles III in Kensington Palace. He is an award-winning television broadcaster and radio presenter who’s interviewed hundreds of A-List stars over the years. He heads up BBC’s Songs of Praise and his own Saturday and Sunday morning shows on Classic FM. Now, after 40 years in the business, he’s looking back on a remarkable career with a one-man show, that will feature never-before-heard music, tales from the decades and for the first time, his story told in his own words. It's time to come Full Circle.

Full Circle is the title of both his new book, out in March, and his new tour, which will celebrate his life. Fans can enjoy that unmistakeable voice, as well as amusingly-told stories from the man who’s synonymous with Classic FC, BBC Radio 2, and BBC TV’s Songs Of Praise.

Having recently been to Number One on the Classical charts with his latest album, One Voice, which paired boy-Aled with man-Aled, he’s looking forward to telling his story.

Aled’s achieved that rarest of feats – he’s somehow managed to sustain a level of success across four decades. There are plenty who enjoy fame as kids, or as stars on talent shows, but they’re frequently here-today and gone-tomorrow. Aled has broken that mould. Having enjoyed a remarkable four years as a kid, during which he became the most interviewed guest on TV’s Wogan talk show, forming a close bond with the ace BBC presenter, he forged a new career.

He became a star in the West End, in Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s Joseph, while teaming up with Lorraine, as co-host on ITV’s Daybreak.

“I’ve always felt lucky, having the career I have, but as I get older, I feel that I am so honoured to be living this life. I love what I do for a living. I have been so fortunate to be a part of people’s lives for so many years. In fact, I feel almost teary when I think about it.”

The fun part came when he was hanging out with Royalty and singing in the Royal Albert Hall, year after year, as a boy.

“It felt like being the heavyweight boxing champion of the world and until you get knocked out it’s great. I knew that my boyhood was to be short lived but for those four years I crammed in as much as I could. Maximum singing and maximum fun! The fun bit was down to my mum and dad, really. When I was back at school, it was interesting, to say the least!”

His relationship with the Royal Family has endured over many years. He shared the same hairdresser as Princess Diana and was invited to sing for Charles and Di while still a boy.

“The highlight was the private performance for Prince Charles and Princess Diana in their home in Kensington Palace. The Palace rang my dad at work and my dad put the phone down thinking it was someone from his work playing a practical joke. Then an equerry rang back and said the call was for real!

“Prince Charles apparently loved my voice and wanted to hear me sing before my voice broke. How would Thursday evening be? My dad said: ‘Yes, that will be fine.’ So off I went from North Wales, with my mum, and my pianist, and I arrived at Kensington Palace. We knew the butler well, because he was a friend of my great uncle, and I remember sitting in their private front room in Kensington Palace. I sat on one sofa and my accompanist from North Wales, Annette Bryn Parri, who’d never been to London, much less Kensington Palace, sat on the other, with my mother also in the room.

“We waited in silence, until the Prince entered first. ‘Mrs Jones, or can I call you Nest?’ He said: ‘What would you like to drink?’ And I could see my mum thinking: ‘Does he mean water, or coffee, or tea?’ It was as though time had stood still. And then he placed a hand on her knee and said: ‘You’ll join me in a gin and tonic, won’t you?’ And she breathed out a sigh of relief and said yes. And Diana came bounding in after that. She’d got wet hair because she’d been swimming. I knew her quite well anyway, by that point, so we had a hug. I sang for an hour, whatever songs they wanted.”

And then there was the performance at the celebrity wedding of the year, when Bob Geldof married Paula Yates and rock royalty descended. Aled was photographed next to David Bowie, before following the members of Spandau Ballet around for the day, in case they wanted him to join.

“The wedding was utterly beautiful. I remember standing with Bob before he went into the church. He wanted everything to be just perfect. I sang my songs, and I remember looking into the congregation and seeing a sea of famous faces all smiling enjoying the music. After the service I was sitting by the organ with Jess and I remember Simon Le Bon, who was best man, coming up to me, and saying to me: ‘I loved your singing, but more than anything, I love your socks.’

“Let me tell you about my socks. At my school, at the time, there was a fad for wearing luminous socks, one orange and one green, and I wore those for the wedding. What was I thinking! Simon led me upstairs to the house where about 20 of the guests had gathered for the official photo. I was told to go and stand behind a big chair. And so was born one of the most iconic wedding photos ever. I had no idea at the time that the man sitting in front of me, whose shoulder I had my hand on was the one and only David Bowie! I couldn’t take it all in!

“Bob Geldof suggested we all went out to play baseball, or rounders. It was Paula’s team versus Bob’s team. I was on team Bob if I remember correctly. There were pop A-listers playing rounders in their tuxedos. Light started to fade and I heard Bob shout: ‘Al, take off one of your socks, will you?’ And we put one of my luminous socks on the ball so that we could still see it as it started to get dark. It was all surreal. Then there was massive fireworks display and a free bar, with the party going on into the early hours. As you can imagine the live band at the party was out of this world. Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet, Lulu etc all sharing the mic. I didn’t sing then! It was all quite incredible. My dad was an engineer at the time and my mum was a primary school teacher and there we were, the three of us were, rubbing shoulders with A-List celebrities. My parents had the time of their lives because it was so incredible. It was the most extravagant and spectacular thing I’d ever witnessed. Bob and Paula were so kind to me that day and at subsequent meetings too. I was honoured to sing on their big day.”

He sang for Leonard Bernstein, a man he likens to Mozart, and became great friends with Judy Dench. He played alongside Julie Andrews, and won an Ivor Novello, an Emmy, and an MBE – not that he can remember where any of those are.

And then he became one of the nation’s best and most loved interviewers and presenters – so much so that Michael Parkinson told him there was nobody else better, well, apart from himself.

One of the best moments was working with Julie Andrews: “There’s a video of Julie Andrews and me I singing Edelweiss and at the end, we put our heads together and she gives me a kiss. That was probably the most overwhelming thing I’ve ever done. For me, she’s one of the greatest, if not the greatest, film stars of my generation. Growing up, I Ioved those films, like Mary Poppins or The Sound of Music. A brilliant actress with a sublime voice.

To get the invitation to interview Julie Andrews on her tour was just a dream come true. It was a pinch-me moment.

“Julie was so lovely to me. She wrote me a hand-written letter at the end of the tour. I have it framed in my office. Working with her is one of the highlights of my career. It wasn’t just that we performed together onstage. It was also the time we spent backstage, where we were as thick as thieves. She had a wonderful team around her of genuine people who’d been around her for years and years and for them to allow me to get into that inner sanctum was very special.

I was completely transported. I was singing Edelweiss with Dame Julie Andrews. It doesn’t get any better than that. It was supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.”

And now he’s come Full Circle. He’s hitting the road and sharing his stories during evenings of song and stories. Full details are available at: https://officialaledjones.com

Aled comes to Westlands Entertainment Venue on Thursday 18th April at 7:30pm. Tickets are available online or through the Box Office.