Apr 8, 2010

An Interview With Darren Parry

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Darren Parry is a singer/songwriter from Dowlais In Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales. He has toured the US extensively and has just released a new single - "Just The Mention Of Your Name". He spoke to ameriCymru about his life and career:-

Americymru: When did you first become aware that you were intent on a musical career?

Darren: I realised this when I started writing songs seriously at around the age of 18. I'd grown up listening to my parents (and especially my mother) playing old 'Motown' ('Four Tops', Diana Ross, 'Temptations', Jimmy Ruffin etc.)records, and lots of 'Free', 'Carpenters', Kenny Rogers and so on and thought, "hmmmm... I'd like to sing and write songs like that". I was always a fan of the big sorta raspy voices, e.g. Joe Cocker, Ray Charles, Michael McDonald, Richard Marx, Joe Lynn Turner, David Coverdale, Bonnie Tyler, Michael Bolton etc. and was always amazed (and still am) by the power and emotion that the human voice can express...what an instrument when used effectively!

Americymru: You are from Dowlais in Merthyr Tydfil. Care to tell our American readers a little about the area?

Darren: I'm originally from a small village called Troedyrhiw in Merthyr Tydfil and have lived in various areas of Merthyr Tydfil (and a few yrs in Swansea) but now reside in Dowlais. Dowlais, like many areas in Merthyr Tydfil is an old mining village as Merthyr Tydfil was renowned in the 1800's for making iron (exported all over the world) and coal. Merthyr was situated close to reserves of iron ore, coal, limestone and water, making it an ideal site for ironworks. Small-scale iron working and coal mining had been carried out at some places in South Wales since the Tudor period, but in the wake of the Industrial revolution the demand for iron led to the rapid expansion of Merthyr's iron operations. The Dowlais Ironworks was founded by what would become the Dowlais Iron Company in 1759, making it the first major works in the area. It was followed in 1765 by the Cyfarthfa Ironworks. The Plymouth ironworks were initially in the same ownership as Cyfarthfa, but passed after the death of Anthony Bacon to Richard Hill in 1788. The fourth ironworks was Penydarren built by Francis Homfray and Samuel Homfray after 1784.

The demand for iron was fuelled by the Royal Navy, who needed cannons for their ships, and later by the railways. In 1802, Admiral Lord Nelson visited Merthyr to witness cannons being made!

Americymru: How would you describe your musical style? What kind of material are you most comfortable performing?

Darren: My musical style varies as I've written over 150 songs in lots of genres but mainly my music is Adult Contemporary(AC)/Pop/Rock.

Americymru: Do you have a regular backing band? Can you tell us something about the musicians you perform with or other performers you have met?

Darren: Yes I have a small band comprising of myself (lead vocals/keyboard and or acoustic guitar), Juan Lozano (backing vocals/keyboard/acoustic guitar) Robert Devereux (backing vocals/lead guitar)and sometimes Steve Sims (lead guitar). I'm very lucky that these guys are both superb musicians and my friends. Very often the only payment they need for recording (they play on my albums)and playing gigs is usually I buy them a curry...well worth a few Kema Nans and Chicken Tikka Masala's !!!!

Other performers I've met/performed with include - Michael Bolton, Michael Ball, Bryn Terfel, 'The Sweet Inspirations' (Elvis' original female backing singers), DJ Fontana (Elvis' original drummer), 'Scouting For Girls', 'Goldie Lookin' Chain', Peter Karrie, Donny Osmond, Brian Conley, Max Boyce among others.

Americymru: We learn from your website that you performed at Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones' wedding. What are your memories of that occasion?

Darren: Well I need to clarify this, bit of a strange story! I was on a 3 month, 45 date USA tour with ' The Black Mountain Male Chorus Of Wales' ( which is a 20 man all male choir - check them out on MySpace) in the year 2000. We were performing near Los Angeles and got a call asking if we'd like to sing in MD's and CZJ's wedding! The connection was that our tour manager, Adrian Metcalfe was in school with CZJ's brother in Swansea I believe. Of course, we were very honoured and said yes! The problem was the wedding if I remember was in the East Coast (New York) and it was impossible to break our contract of performing our booked concerts on the West Coast to fly over. Unfortunatley due to this we had to pass and another Welsh choir sang instead. Doh!!!!!! ...but at least we were the first choice!

Americymru: What can you tell us about your current release - "Just The Mention Of Your Name"?

Darren: It is a melodic AC pop ballad that is my latest song. It is available for commercial download on iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody and Napster. It is a single from my forthcoming EP entitled..."That Feeling" that will feature songs co-written with 'Dazzle Music' (who's written for/had songs recorded by Charlotte Church).

Americymru: Where can our readers go to hear/download your music?

Americymru: You recently toured the US with the Black Mountain Male Chorus. Care to tell us a bit more about the tour?

Darren: This was the second large tour I've done of the States with Black Mountain (BM). The latest tour was in Jan/Feb 2008 and we did 22 concerts. We started in Chicago then went to, wait for it, deep breathe... Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Missouri, Kansas, Texas, New Mexico before finishing off in LA. We performed in venues for up to 2000 people and were fortunate to get fantastic, enthusiastic crowds every night. BM has now completed over 200(I've done around 70 of these)concerts in the US over the past 14 yrs or so and have a good fan base who are keen to hear male voices sing our repertoire of Welsh hymns, pop songs, rugby influenced songs, folk songs, opera and Celtic music.

Americymru: Any plans to visit the States again in the near future?

Darren: I've just signed a licensing deal with a company called 'Rock Talk Music', based in LA, California so who knows? I may be coming there in 2010. I've now been lucky enough to have visited around 40 of the 50 US States in the last 10 yrs and I always look forward to coming there!

Americymru: Any final message for the members and readers of Americymru?

Darren: I'm a member and I'm very glad to see the American and Welsh links being proliferated with a site like Americymru...keep up the excellent work :)

Interview: Ceri Shaw Email

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