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Aled Jones: Singer, presenter — and now celebrant

23 February 2024

I’m a card-carrying Christian, Aled Jones tells Sarah Meyrick

Ray Burmiston 

Aled Jones, who has now qualified as a celebrant

Aled Jones, who has now qualified as a celebrant

THE singer and presenter Aled Jones has qualified as a celebrant, and is now permitted to officiate at weddings, naming ceremonies, funerals, and other ceremonies. Mr Jones, the former boy treble who sold more than seven million albums and now presents Songs of Praise on BBC1, and two shows on Classic FM, spent a year studying with the Academy of Modern Celebrancy. He graduated in December 2023.

It was not something that he had planned on, he said. “I was talking to someone who told me that my version of ‘You raise me up’ is the most requested piece of music in crematoriums in the UK. I might have laughed it off, and maybe it’s old age making me think more, but I just thought, what an honour that it was my music, my voice, that was chosen at such a pivotal time. I decided I wanted to know more.”

He began to investigate what it took to become a celebrant, and, before long, he had begun the training, which often meant squeezing in modules in airport lounges or between filming sessions. The training included drafting scripts for ceremonies. “It’s been fascinating,” he said.

Mr Jones is yet to conduct any ceremonies, although he has had several requests. He expects that people may ask him to sing as part of the event, but this is optional. The world of music, he says on his website, has given him a deep appreciation of the importance of meaningful moments. “Whether you’re a fan of classical music or not, my commitment to creating a personalised, unforgettable experience . . . is unwavering.”

He played down the idea that anyone might be star-struck to find him in this position. “I’ve been doing this since I was 12 years old,” he said. “Anyone can come up to me, and I’m always up for a chat. It’s never a case of them and me; it’s always a case of us.”

If asked, he would introduce elements of faith into the ceremonies. “I’m not a minister or a priest, but I can put faith in, if that’s what the people want. I’m a card-carrying Christian; so that’s what I believe. But, yes, I’m always up for a blessing.”

Mr Jones is unlikely to be conducting ceremonies in the first half of this year, as he is fully occupied with a new tour, “Full Circle”, in which he will perform at 74 venues around the UK this year. The show promises “Aled Jones as you’ve never heard him before.”

“It’s just me on stage,” he said, “telling the story of my life from 40 years in the industry. I’m singing music that I’ve never done on stage before, plus some music that I [regularly] do. I’m also singing music that I’ve written, and singing some musical theatre. But, more than anything, it’s me telling my life story.”

There would be a big screen “with lots of embarrassing photos” and “really dodgy outfits”, he said. His show includes behind-the-scenes footage of some of his higher-profile moments: singing at the wedding of Paula Yates and Bob Geldof, working with Leonard Bernstein (“He wanted to adopt me, for goodness’ sake”), and performing for the Royal Family.

There was “a terrible clip” of his first effort fronting Songs of Praise, when he was just 16: “I presented a programme from a seaside town in North Wales and, my goodness, I was terrible. It’s the most wooden piece of TV you’ve ever seen in your life.”

Mr Jones said that he was looking forward to the challenge. At 53, he had found himself looking back. “As a kid, I had this extraordinary career, which was only four years. I almost didn’t have time to savour some of the things I’ve done. Putting the show together has forced me to look back, and it’s been a great experience, actually.”

The venues are not necessarily big ones, and 90 per cent are new to him. He refers to a tour in Australia which took him to smaller venues. “The tendency is that you just perform in the same places. I think for the first six or seven times I went to Australia, all I ever saw was the Sydney Opera House and the Melbourne Concert Hall. The best tour I ever did [there] was a regional one, where I went to places that no one had been before.”

The show would be different every night, he said. “I’m leaving some things for the moment. So, for instance, if I’m talking about my days when I was presenting Daybreak with Lorraine, my plan is to have on the big screen pictures of people I interviewed — everyone from David Cameron to Justin Bieber. On different nights, I might talk about different people. So that will keep it fresh for me as well.”

Audiences will also have the chance to ask questions. He said that he enjoyed the spontaneity. “It’s always been like that with my concerts. I do prepare the music, of course, and you have to work on your voice and everything, but I never, ever plan what I say in between the music. I love that aspect of performance.”

The tour “Full Circle” runs from 20 March to 23 November.


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