Aled Jones (born 29 December 1970) is a Welsh singer and television/radio personality, broadcaster and television presenter (Escape to the Country and Cash in the Attic) who first came to fame as a treble (the highest vocal range). He is notable for presenting Songs of Praise on BBC 1, BBC Radio 2's The Early Breakfast Show, Good Morning Sunday and The Choir on BBC Radio 3.

Biography

Jones was born in St. David's Hospital in Bangor, Wales, the only child of Nest Rowlands, a teacher, and Derek John Jones, a draughtsman for a shipbuilder. He was raised in the small Welsh-speaking community of Llandegfan, in Anglesey and attended Ysgol David Hughes. Jones joined the choir of Bangor Cathedral at age nine and was lead soloist within two years, although he never made Head Chorister. The remarkable quality of his treble voice was appreciated by a member of the congregation, Hefina Orwig Evans, who wrote a letter to local record company Sain, and he was duly signed. In 1982 he won the Cerdd Dant solo competitions for competitors under 12 at the Urdd Eisteddfod.

Aled Jones became famous for the cover version of "Walking in the Air", the song from Channel 4's 1982 animated film The Snowman, based on the book by Raymond Briggs. The record reached No. 5 in the UK charts in 1985. (However, the version used in the film was not performed by Jones, but by Peter Auty, a St. Paul's Cathedral choirboy.)

Aled Jones also, with the National Philharmonic Orchestra, was behind the Santa Claus The Movie, original motion picture soundtrack, Every Christmas Eve of 1985.

In June 1985, Jones was the subject of the Emmy award winning BBC Omnibus documentary The Treble.

His recording career was temporarily halted when his voice broke at 16. By this time he had recorded 16 albums, sold more than six million albums, 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. He sang at the wedding of music celebrities Bob Geldof and Paula Yates in 1986. He also had the distinction of being the first artist to have two classical albums listed simultaneously in the popular music charts. He also worked with Mike Oldfield (Pictures in the Dark) and Leonard Bernstein (Chichester Psalms). In 1986 he sang the oratorio Athalia with Emma Kirkby. His first biography, "Walking on Air", was published in 1986

Jones went on to study at the Royal Academy of Music and the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, before beginning his adult recording career, with a largely religious/inspirational repertoire. In 1995 he took the leading role in the long-running production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat on a Blackpool pier.

Jones has recorded 24 albums, many of which reached gold or platinum status in the UK and Australia. He performs as a lyric baritone, though he has expressed a desire to move into the traditional register of the tenor.

Jones's appearance as a contestant on Strictly Come Dancing in 2004 brought him to the attention of a wider audience, leading to further tours and albums. It also led to increasing demands on him as a broadcaster.

He was a presenter on Classic FM as well as on Welsh radio (BBC Radio Wales and Radio Cymru) and television (S4C). In 2006 he joined the BBC, taking over from Don Maclean on Good Morning Sunday on BBC Radio 2 and The Choir on BBC Radio 3. He is also a presenter of Friday Night is Music Night, and has also been a regular stand-in presenter for Sarah Kennedy and Ken Bruce on Radio 2. Jones also presents other programmes for BBC radio such as "Choir of the Year" and "Young Chorister of the Year".

In 2005 he launched his eponymous autobiography, written in collaboration with Darren Henley.

Following the launch of his first baritone album, Aled (on the Universal Music label) in Australia in May 2003 when he went there on a promotional visit, he has since successfully toured in concert there four times: December 2003, August 2006, October 2008 and August to September 2010, performing in eight cities.

Jones has released two singles with Terry Wogan in aid of the Children in Need Appeal.

From 3 July until 30 August 2008 Jones played the lead role of Caractacus Potts in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff. He returned to the stage, playing Bob Wallace in White Christmas at the Theatre Royal, Plymouth and at The Lowry, Salford Quays, from November 2009 until 9 January 2010.

Following the publication of Aled's Forty Favourite Hymns in 2009, a further book, Favourite Christmas Carols, was published on 28 October 2010; Jones took the book on his UK tour in November and December 2010. On 29 November, his CD Aled's Christmas Gift, was issued to accompany the book.

On 11 October 2010, it was announced that Jones would be taking over as stand-in presenter of the early morning breakfast slot on BBC Radio 2 following the departure of Sarah Kennedy, a role which he occasionally covered in the years leading up to Kennedy's departure. Jones covered this slot for six weeks until the week of his UK tour.

Jones is currently mentoring choirgirl Isabel Suckling, the youngest classical recording artist signed by Decca Records and first choirgirl to sign a record contract with a major music label to date. Her debut album, greatly endorsed by Jones, who described it as "breathtaking", was released on 29 November 2010.

Work on television

Jones is the main presenter of the BBC series Songs of Praise, including the annual "Big Sing" and the recent 50th Anniversary edition from Alexandra Palace. He appeared as a contestant on Strictly Come Dancing in 2004 and Play It Again in 2007. Recently Jones has presented editions of Escape to the Country and Cash in the Attic for BBC TV. In October 2011, he also appeared as a presenter of The One Show.

Personal life

While performing on Blackpool Pier in 1995 as the lead in Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Aled met his future wife, Claire Fossett. The couple married in 2001, and now live in London with their two children.