Hi, it’s Aled here, Aled Jones - you’re expecting me?
— Yes, Aled, I’m delighted to be speaking with you!
And you; how are you?
— I’m very well, how are you?
Yeah, I’m good thanks. I’m doing the breakfast show on Classic this week so the alarm this morning was a little bit of a surprise to the system but we’re all good!
— Yes, I was joining in Nessun Dorma…
— …and murdering it. I can’t believe you were murdering that top line, but I definitely was.
Honestly, sometimes I say things and my producer went: “You talk as if you were just in your living room.” Because I just went for it, and it was so bad, it was one of those [makes wobbly voice impression]. Actually, it’s a really fun show to do; it goes so quickly but towards the middle of the afternoon I need to sneak in a nap.
— Yes, I bet. What time do you get up for that?
I got up this morning at 4.30. Tomorrow I’ll get up later, it’ll be 5 tomorrow, so that’s not too bad. It was always Terry Wogan who said to me, “if you’re waking up at 5 you’re doing a morning show; if you’re waking up before 5 you’re doing a nighttime show.”
— I’m going to take you right back to the start of your career, Aled…
Yeah well, this is what I’m going to be doing on the old tour as well. I’ve been doing it for the last two weeks now. I keep looking at old footage and old photos.
It’s been so bitter sweet to be honest with you because, you know, I tend not to look back at all. I tend to look forward all the time. And this tour has, I’m going to be honest, kind of forced me to look back - so I’ve got so much footage that no-one will have ever seen before.
I would say for the first half of the tour I’m going to be doing, the overriding message is “don’t let your mum cut your hair”!
— Because it gets on the album covers and everything?
Honestly, there’s some photos from the family archive and stuff that’s just hilarious and I’ve forgotten also that I was often the ‘And Finally’ on the News at Six, News at Ten.
Because what happens is - I don’t know if people are explaining for the tour - it’s not a singing tour like I normally do. It’s very much an evening with - it’s just me and a grand piano on stage, and I tell the story and I’ve got hundreds of photos and lots of videos that people won’t have seen before. I’ll sing as well, probably five or six songs, but the rest of it is very much me telling stories that I’ve never told before.
You know there’s the iconic photo of me at Bob Geldof’s wedding with Paula Yates and I’m standing behind David Bowie, but there’s also an unofficial photo which I’ve got of everyone laughing and pointing; well, no-one knows why, but I’ll share why on the tour! And the same with Leonard Bernstein - on the back of Maestro - I’ve got lots of stories about him; lots of stories about singing for Charles and Diana back in the day - even a photo of me having a haircut by Diana’s hairdresser!
— Before Walking in the Air made you a household name, who spotted your talent and persuaded you to start making records?
It was a lady in the congregation at Bangor who always nagged my mum and dad to record my solos - they never did anything about it. And unbeknown to us, she wrote to a local recording company in North Wales saying, “you should record this boy’s voice before it breaks and - they did! That record was on sale in Cardiff.
A BBC producer from London needed a soloist, listened to me and asked me to do it and, that was it, we were off and then it was four unbelievable years, you know? of touring and singing all over the world and, yeah, it was just amazing.
— I think I heard all of those records. I was quite a fan. But then everyone must have thought that there were no more recordings of the boy Aled when your voice broke, but then a series of ‘One Voice’ CDs feature you duetting with your younger self. How did that come about?
Well, it was just - it’s mad really. I was so prolific as a boy, I was recording stuff every day and of course you don’t remember. At home one night over dinner, my dad sort of announced that there was a record, that I had made as a boy, in the airing cupboard and I was like: “No more wine for you, dad! What are you talking about?”
And lo and behold, there was a DAT tape there of an album of folk songs that I’d recorded, but my voice then broke, so no-one did anything with the DAT recording. I listened to it, and then left it in the office; never did anything with it but then one day I transferred it to CD. I was on tour and, in the car I played it with my musical director and I just started singing along and he went, “oh my, you can tell it’s you!” So we decided to do something with it, never knowing that it would be so popular. It was number 3 in the pop charts; it was mad, it was a really mad time because I think people had forgotten about the boy voice really a little bit, apart from Walking in the Air.
Since then, we’ve done four One Voice albums - that’s it now; It’s all done. That’s what prompted the tour I’m on really, it’s the fact that I am very much saying goodbye to that part of my life.
The second half of it, of course, is stuff that I’ve done as an adult - the TVs, the Daybreak, Escape to the Country, but also the recording, travelling to Australia and places like that. I had to pinch myself really in that, here I am having recorded 41 albums. It really does feel like I should be 87 years old!
— So that’s why your tour is called Full Circle, then?
Yeah, because essentially it is. I’m thinking of starting it with a song that’s been written by a couple of friends of mine who wrote Mary Poppins the Musical. Stiles and Drewe, they’re musical theatre geniuses, and they wrote a song especially for me called Choirboy; it’s all about certain things happening to you, you stop singing boy soprano and basically what happens to you after that. So the song takes you through all those different bits of childhood and what happens and, yeah, I’m a little bit apprehensive of this tour because I’ve never done anything like it before. It’s going to be very open, very honest - as I say: just me; nowhere to hide. So people can take me for… I’m basically telling me story for the first time - in my words.
— Beyond the singing, you’ve written books, presented programmes on TV - and now, as if that isn’t enough, you’ve qualified as a celebrant of marriages, naming ceremonies and funerals…
If I become interested in something - it was somebody who told me that my version of You Raise Me Up is the most requested in the UK crematoriums and in the past I would have gone: “Oh, that’s nice isn’t it, whatever.” Now, I don’t know, it really resonated with me; I felt that I had a duty really to learn more about these kinds of services and how they’re held and what work goes into them and it’s been amazing. I spent a year immersing myself in naming, weddings and funerals. Yeah, just incredible really. Very, very fulfilling.
— And, of course, you’re a presenter on Classic FM, my favourite radio station. How did that get started?
I was from Classic FM from very much nearly the beginning. I think I joined just before 2000. The station was ’96 so three years after it started and I loved being part of Classic FM, then I got poached by Radio 2, Radio 3 for about five or six years and, very happily, went back to Classic and I’ve been there now for 10, maybe 11 years. It’s such a great, vibrant station to be part of. I love dipping into the daily routine when I can because I can do the desk and stuff like that from years of practice.
Yeah, I love my Saturdays and Sunday morning programmes just because it’s my favourite part of the day, morning going into lunchtime. It’s a great station and I’m always up for doing their silly videos and stuff like that, you know? I enjoy it.
— For your Sunday morning show, your choices have always been the most relaxing, easy way to start the day. But since the New Year, it’s been shaken up, hasn’t it? So we can hear you now at the weekends both days?
Yeah, that’s exactly it. 10 ’til 1 on Saturday and 10 ’til 1 on Sunday, which is always the slots I’ve ever wanted really. For me, those are the perfect ones. It means you don’t have to get up very, very early and people are starting to stir. It was always the time when I would listen to the radio; the time when I’d wake up. I’d always hear music coming from the kitchen - everything from pop music to Welsh hymns to, you know, all kinds of stuff. I love music and I love the radio as well, I think there’s something quite magical about the radio and how immediate it is.
— And classical music aside, a lot of people’s lasting memory of you is going to be your amazing performance in ITV’s The Masked Singer.
Hahaha! That was so liberating to do and such fun. I must have demoed about 50 songs with them and all I wanted to do was not sing songs that I normally sing. The only song I sang that I would normally sing is something like When Somebody Loved Me from Toy Story, but the rest of it - you know, I’ll never get to do Rick Astley and the Piña Colada Song. And also, I was going to do Justin Beiber: Baby Baby! So it was such fun and going back into the costume last Christmas to do an ITV special was great fun as well.
I have a huge affinity to traffic cones since then. I got a brilliant text the other day on Classic from someone who said that their mum walks their dog but never lets the dog now wee on traffic cones because she thinks I’m in there!
— How did your family respond to this, the thing that you described as the most bonkers thing you’d ever done?
Yeah well, do you know what? My wife knew, but my kids didn’t. Week One I think, my daughter went: “That’s you, isn’t it!” I was like, “don’t be stupid, I wouldn’t do this rubbish!” Honestly, the texts every Saturday night were from people saying, “it’s definitely you.”
— You’re taking your tour to Pembrokeshire, to the Torch Theatre on March 27 and I’m really looking forward to it, as I’m sure are many of our readers.
Yeah, it’s very much me telling my story, with music that maybe people won’t have heard before. I’m definitely going to be doing something like How Great Thou Art or You Raise Me Up but I’m also going to be doing some musical theatre and I’m also going to do an original song I’ve written as well, especially for the tour. So there’s lots of twists and, more than anything it’s a really lovely trip down memory lane with lots and lots of photos from the 80s.
— Have you written any other songs?
Yeah, I do, I write a lot. I did it at college, when I was much younger and I sort of write a song a week, probably. I’ve written with quite a few different people. I’m not sure which one yet, but one of them will definitely make an airing on tour.