Dec 9, 2008

An Interview With Paul Child - Official Singer of the Welsh Rugby Union

How does it feel to stand on the pitch of the Millenium Stadium in front of those crowds and be the guy who gets to sing the national anthem?

It is every Welsh singer's dream to perform at The Millennium Stadium, It was certainly mine and I can still remember when I got the call for the first time, it's like one of those moments when you remember where you were when you heard that Elvis had died. I usually do a soundcheck about 2 hours before kick off, before the gates open so the stadium is empty apart from the stewards - it's an amazing feeling, and then to perform and lead the Welsh National Anthem in front of 75,000 Welsh fans is absolutely incredible.

Paul Child at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales

Paul Child at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales

How did you start singing, what made that happen? What were your goals as a vocalist then?

I started singing at the age of 15, in a school rock band and later on I joined another band who did fairly well locally. We were mainly a covers band, playing Bon Jovi, Van Halen, Whitesnake. I wanted to be Jon Bon Jovi and we were having a great time, playing bars and clubs. Rock singing is, in my opinion, the hardest style to do properly - partly because you are expected to be running around on stage like a lunatic at the same time! This is why I started taking opera and classical singing lessons, learning to breath and project properly when I was 16.

Later, you were a cabaret singer on the Spanish island of Tenerife, how did that come about? How long did you do that and what was it like?

I went on holiday to Tenerife in the early nineties, it was just when karaoke was taking off in a big way and I was offered a job as a karaoke host. It was an ideal job as, early on in the evening, when there were no singers from the audience I had to sing and I used to let the audience pick songs for me to have a go at. I had developed quite a large range by then through my rock singing and classical lessons so I found I could sing just about anything. I would sing Neil Diamond, Elton John, Guns & Roses, Rod Stewart, and my 'party piece' was Meatloaf's 'Paradise By The Dashboard Light' - both the male and female parts! I stayed on the island for four years and while I was there I met fellow Welshman David Alexander - he was hugely popular on Tenerife and sadly he passed away there in February 1995. I returned to Wales a year later in 1996 and when I started singing in the workmen's clubs of Wales, I sang a couple of David's songs.

Now I go back to Tenerife once a year to visit old friends and I always do a show or two while I'm there - it's great because all the Welsh holiday makers pack the venues so it's just like being back in Wales - but its sunny!

You raised the money to self-produce your album, "Wales Forever," as a tribute to Welsh vocalist David Alexander, how did that happen? What inspired you do this album, what was your process in creating it?

When I returned to Wales and started performing on the workingmen's club circuit, I started doing some of the songs that I had heard David doing on Tenerife. I was getting asked by audiences all the time if I had an album available so I decided to go about producing my own. I wanted to do an album of contempory Welsh tunes - songs that have never been huge hits but are part of our folklore in Wales. I approached Johhny Caesar, who wrote the songs 'If I Could See The Rhondda', 'Come Home Rhondda Boy' and 'The Price Of Coal' and we based the album around those three songs. I had already been performing the songs with a male voice choir for some time so we took the choir to the recording studio between Fisguard and Haverfordwest in West Wales and recorded the album in three days.

"Wales Forever" went on to become the biggest-selling independently-released album ever in Wales, selling over 100,000 copies - how did it feel when it started selling that well? Did you know it would do well or was it more of a gamble?

The first pressing of the album was 2,000 copies and it was my intention to just sell them at live shows and small independent local stores but then I started getting calls from UK retail giant WHSmith, asking for two hundred copies per store! We had to move very quickly to supply the demand and, eight years later, that album is still selling all over the world - it's an incredible feeling and with the advent of iTunes and Amazon, more and more people all over the world are downloading it!

How did you come to be "the official voice of Welsh rugby"? What does that mean exactly? 2006's "Bread of Heaven" is the official album of the Welsh Rugby Union. Can you tell us some more about that?

Although I was very proud of what we achieved with the 'Wales Forever' album, it was done 'on the cheap'in that the music was produced by sythesisers rather than real instruments so when I was asked to record the Official Album for the Welsh Rugby Team a few years later it seemed a perfect opportunity to revisit some of these songs and record them with a full live orchestra as well as a male voice choir. They had never been recorded in this way before and we felt that the songs deserved the very best production available.

Your latest album is "Shine," Can you tell us a little about it? Where can fans see you perform and buy your music?

I have really enjoyed recording 'Shine' - It's very exiting for me because it has a couple of original songs, like the title track and also 'Where The wind Blows'. I have mixed the styles up a little on this album because, going back my early days, I do like to sing in different styles so there are showtunes like 'Bring Him Home' from Les Miserables and even a cover of Journey's 'Faithfully' (one of my all time favourite songs). I've also included a live version of 'One Day / The Answer To Everything'. My live show is something I'm very proud of - we have a live orchestra on stage and the sound they produce is fantastic.

I'm looking forward to St Davids Day next year when I will be at The Princess Royal Theatre in Port Talbot - it's a great theatre and we have the Ospreys Choir with us for the first time. My website has all the tour details, album details and also a selection of live videos from shows and at The Millennium Stadium.

I have recently been involved in producing singles for the four regional Welsh Rugby Teams. All four singles are being released at the same time with the proceeds going to welsh Charities. Go to for full details!

I'm also hoping to be able to perform at the Left Coast Eisteddfod next year so maybe I'll get to meet some of the Americymru members! In the meantime I'd like to take this opportunity wish all of the members a Merry Festive Season and a very Happy New Year.

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