'I've never looked forward to a tour more than this one' - From The Masked Singer to St Albans Cathedral for Aled Jones
- Credit: Supplied by Deacon Communications
Classical crossover star Aled Jones was revealed as 'Traffic Cone' on The Masked Singer on Saturday night.
Jones had dazzled the panel with his rendition of Escape (The Piña Colada Song) by Rupert Holmes. After his identity was revealed on the ITV show, he said: “Can I go back to doing classical and choral now?”
And that's precisely what the singer, broadcaster and long-time Songs of Praise presenter will be doing later this month when he brings his 2022 UK tour to St Albans.
Aled will be performing at St Albans Cathedral on Monday, February 28. It's a city he knows well.
"I've performed in St Albans quite a few times over the years," said Aled to this paper in an exclusive interview.
"But I've not performed over the last two years because the dreaded COVID took away all that.
"So this tour is going to be a very special one for me because I'm back doing what I love most and not being able to sing publicly has been kind of such a weird thing.
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"For somebody who has sung all his life, to all of a sudden to have that taken away – when I never ever thought it would be taken away, of course – has been very strange."
Now 51, the former Bangor Cathedral chorister found fame as a teenager after singing Walking In The Air, a song from the animated film The Snowman which he released in 1985.
On not being able to perform live during the pandemic, Aled admits: "It's been surreal, to be honest.
"Last year I only did a couple of outdoor gigs in the summer and the first of which I stepped on stage a gibbering wreck because it was something I hadn't done at all for two years, which is the longest I've ever been without singing publicly since I was 11 years old.
"So it's going to be a very emotional experience for me going back and doing what I love.
"I've been very lucky as I have continued with the presenting, the radio and the TV, and I also brought out my first children's novel [Bobby Dean Saves Christmas], so that was something that took up a lot of my time and focused my mind.
"But the live singing is something I've done all my life."
He also released an album, Blessings, during lockdown. It features songs from a range of different faiths – Quaker, Christian, Catholic, Muslim and Buddhism – including uplifting hymns, texts and scriptures set to music.
Blessings includes duets with Dame Judi Dench, Susan Boyle, actor Brian Blessed, and Sami Yusuf.
"That was the weirdest album I've ever put together because I didn't meet any of the people I sang with, except for Judi Dench – I went round to her house to do it just before lockdown," says Aled.
"And my producer was out in New Zealand, so he produced it from New Zealand, and the orchestra was somewhere else in the world, and I was in Acton in London. So literally a logistical nightmare."
Aled's forthcoming tour will see him perform tracks from Blessings, which reached the top of the Official UK Classical Chart upon its release in 2020.
It also reached the top 15 in the Official UK Album Chart and features much-loved classics including How Can I Keep From Singing?, Sunrise Sunset, Ave Maria and Bless This House.
"A lot of what we recorded for Blessings will be what I perform on this tour," says Aled. "Just for the simple reason it was born out of a very difficult time, which was lockdown, and it almost feels now like we're coming to the end of it."
When we speak via Zoom, the topic of The Masked Singer doesn't come up, as the identities of the show's celebrity singers are kept top secret ahead of the programme airing on TV.
Asked why he wanted to take part, he said on the show: “It’s so uplifting and when will I ever sing Rick Astley and the Pina Colada song again?”
After his Masked Singer identity was disclosed on Saturday night, Aled wrote on Twitter: “What a brilliant fun experience! Singing stuff I don’t normally get to do!
“Thanks so much @maskedsingeruk and @itv – come and join #TrafficCone on tour end of the month and through March. #TrafficCone #TheCone #maskedsingeruk”
Tickets for his forthcoming St Albans Cathedral concert are available via ticketek.co.uk
"It will be an intimate evening," adds Aled. "But also an evening of lots of fun, lots of jokes, and lots of stories. It's not a solemn cathedral service or anything like that.
"It's very much a concert like I'd do in a concert hall but instead it's being done in a cathedral setting.
"Even if people have never stepped into St Albans Cathedral before, it's a good opportunity to come in and see something that you'd normally see in a concert hall."
Aled adds: "Cathedrals are beautiful buildings, so even if you are bored of what is actually being sung, you can look around and still be impressed!
"They lend themselves to being amazing places to put on a concert.
"I feel very fortunate that I'm coming back and doing this tour in these buildings."
Aled will be joined on tour by the classically trained BRIT nominee soprano Carly Paoli and classically trained pianist and composer Tamara Konstantin.
Born in the UK but with strong Italian roots, Carly Paoli has duetted with José Carreras for HRH The Prince of Wales at Windsor Castle, and with Andrea Bocelli Bocelli in Florence and Rome and then at the O2.
Her latest album, Carly Paoli & Friends, released in September 2021, is an eclectic selection of duets ranging across the musical genres.
Featuring artists such as tenor Joseph Calleja, Paul Carrack, Elaine Paige and Tony Hadley, in one of the stand-out spiritual numbers she is joined by Aled himself in a new version of the beautiful Irish hymn, Be Thou My Vision.
She will perform with Aled on his Blessings track Bless This House on tour, after Susan Boyle featured on the album, as well as other songs.
Aled adds: "I've never looked forward to a tour more than this one."