WHEN I speak to him ahead of his show at Wrexham’s William Aston Hall on Monday, May 8, Aled Jones is busy sifting through the many videos he’s been sent from choirs up and down the country, with the task of picking one to appear at each venue alongside him proving difficult.
“I’ve just been given them all and I’m glad to say there’s loads from Wales,” he laughs.
“Whether it’s in a choir or just singing with your mates it doesn’t really get better than that which is why more and more people have cottoned on to the fact it’s such fun.
“It’s not just about the singing, it’s about having a pint afterwards and enjoying the social side so who wouldn’t want to do it?”
Now aged 46, Bangor-born Aled became famous for his version of Walking in the Air, the song from Channel 4's animated film The Snowman based on the book by Raymond Briggs.
By the age of 16, he had recorded 16 albums, sold more than six million records and sung for Pope John Paul II, the Queen, and the Prince and Princess of Wales in a private recital, as well as presenting numerous children’s television programmes.
Since then he’s become best known for his television and radio work with slots on Songs of Praise and shows on Radio 2 and Classic FM.
Having joined the ITV Breakfast Show in September 2012, he now hosts his own show called The Weekend Show every Saturday and Sunday for seven months of the year where he gets to interview some of the biggest names in show business.
Last year saw him return to singing and it proved the right decision as his latest album One Voice ascended the pop charts to reach the staggering position of number three as well as holding the number one spot on the classical chart for 14 weeks and selling more than 72,000 copies.
“It was incredible and mad,” he says. “I knew I’d record albums again but I never thought they would be successful or tap into people’s emotions again.
“For it to do so well took everyone by surprise and it was mad to be up at the top of the charts with people like Zayn Malik.
“You can never tell what’s going to happen with the release of an album. You might be incredibly proud of it and think it’s the best thing you’ve ever done, but then the public don’t what to know.”
Featuring never-before-released recordings, One Voice saw Aled duet with his younger self on a selection of popular folk classics.
“We were sitting around the kitchen table one day when my mum announced there was an album of folk songs of mine that had never been released.
“When she asked my dad where it was, he said the tape of recordings was in the airing cupboard to keep it dry, sandwiched inbetween my old pants and socks.
“At the time my voice had broken so the record company decided not to release it.
“I didn't even remember recording it but when I listened to it at my parents’ house I felt like a proud grandfather.
“From that came the idea to release the album of duets, featuring my voice as a boy and now as an adult. When you’re older you think about these things a lot more and it was a nice way of drawing a line under those times.”
Following the success of One Voice Aled Jones returned with a brand new duet album titled One Voice at Christmas, a collection of popular classics including an updated version of Walking in the Air.
“There was no guarantee it was going to work but within 30 seconds of the recording I knew we were onto something,” he says about duetting with the young Aled.
“It was strange but I never thought it would be as emotional as it was. It just worked and felt effortless and it was probably the easiest recording session I’ve had in my life.”
As for the forthcoming tour, Aled is planning a few other surprises in addition to his choir competition. “One half of the concert will be One Voice, but the second half will be mostly just me and guitar,” he says.
“We’ve chosen some heartfelt pieces of music so it’s a great opportunity to see me up close.
“The first gig will be nerve-wracking because there’s nowhere to hide, but I quite like a challenge.
“I like trying different things and there’s something quite magical about doing it like we are and I can really engage with the music.”
Strangely, given his North Wales heritage, this will be the first time Aled has performed in Wrexham and he’s looking forward to his visit to the William Aston Hall.
“I really wanted to visit North Wales as I’ve never played Wrexham before,” he adds. “It’s a new one for me which is always a nice experience.
“I’m so grateful I’ve had my background and Wales has made me who I am. There will always be a Welsh date on my tour because I’m proud of being a North Walian and I promote North Wales wherever I go in the world.
“I’m really lucky to have all these opportunities and I’m lucky because I don’t really see it as work. It’s just prancing around, it’s not tough like going down the mine!”
Aled Jones is at Wrexham’s William Aston Hall on Monday, May 8. Doors: 7pm. For tickets call: 0844 888 9991 or go to www.glyndwr.ac.uk/events
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