St David’s Day: The Best Of Welsh Musicianship
If there’s one thing we love, it’s celebrating the best a country has to offer! With so many incredible musicians coming out of the UK, we think it’s important to spend some time reflecting on the best, biggest and freshest names in each country’s history.
Today, in connection with St David’s Day, we’re focusing on the incredible musicians from the west and across Wales. From household names and reminders of their roots, this list will be sure to cover some of the boldest and most fascinating names in welsh musicianship.
Of course there are also countless rising names and fresh faces we’d love to cover here, so if you think we’ve missed any, get in touch with us on Facebook!
For other national celebrations: You might also like our selection of our favourite Scottish musicians, or the best pianists from China who are driving music forwards!
Without further ado, let’s dive in!
Tom Jones OBE
It wouldn’t be a Welsh list without this iconic name! Born 7 June 1940 in Pontyprid, Jones’ career began with a string of top-ten hits in the mid-1960s and has continued to remain in the public eye ever since. It was Jones’ second single “It’s Not Unusual”, that propelled him to stardom after it became an international hit when offshore pirate radio stations began promoting it.
The following year was the most prominent of Jones’s career and in early 1965, “It’s Not Unusual” reached No. 1 in the United Kingdom and the top ten in the United States. During 1965, Jones also secured a number of film themes, including the theme songs for the film What’s New Pussycat?
Of course Jones has also undergone extensive work in both radio and television since then, being a judge on The Voice UK and in 2020, it was Tom who helped us usher in the new year as he appeared on the BBC’s Jools’ Annual Hootenanny, broadcast on New Year’s Eve.
Manic Street Preachers
These Blackwood rockers have been going strong since 1986 and are more often known colloquially known as “the Manics”. Since their debut in 1990, the band have been continuing to drive towards their goal of creating “the greatest rock album ever”, hoping to sell “sixteen million copies” around the world, after which they would split up.
Whilst this goal still hasn’t quite been achieved (the band have sold around 10 million albums), they have headlined several festivals including Glastonbury, T in the Park, V Festival and Reading, won eleven NME Awards, eight Q Awards and four BRIT Awards. They have been nominated for the Mercury Prize in 1996 and 1999, and have had 3 number 1 UK hits.
Dame Shirley Bassey
Going strong since 1953, Dame Shirley Bassey is a household name known for her incredible vocal stylings and records for incredibly iconic soundtracks to the James Bond films Goldfinger (1964), Diamonds Are Forever (1971), and Moonraker (1979).
In January 1959, Bassey became the first Welsh person to gain a No. 1 single with ‘As I Love You’. It was at the turn of the century on December 31st 1999 when Bassey was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) by the Queen for her services to entertainment.
In November 2016 the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama announced the naming of the Shirley Bassey Studio in celebration of Bassey’s long-standing support for young Welsh singers studying at the College.
When it comes to opera and classical, Bryn Terfel is a name to certainly be contested with! Bryn’s incredible bass-baritone opera and concert vocals have propelled him into stardom and he has worked on roles by the likes of Mozart, Wagner and his albums have collected songs by Lerner and Loewe and Rodgers and Hammerstein.
In 2006 he was the second recipient of the Queen’s Medal for Music and in 2017 he was given a knighthood for his service in entertainment and to the classical arts.
Everyone loves a story of a band breaking out from their hometowns and Stereophonics are no exception! Formed in 1992 in the small village of Cwmaman, Stereophonics have continued to remain one of the biggest and long lasting names in British rock through singer Kelly Jones’ rough and raspy vocals, which help make the Stereophonics sound instantly recognisable!
Since their first studio album in 1997, Word Gets Around, which reached number six in the UK charts,the band have continued to release music and reach new heights. The band released their third album, Just Enough Education to Perform, in April 2001. To promote the new album, Just Enough Education to Perform, the Stereophonics played a two-day festival, which was called A Day at the Races. This event was held in Donington Park on the first day and at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium on the second. Over 200,000 separate tickets were sold for the weekend festival.
Arguably one of the most famous names in classical and operatics. After winning countless singing competitions in her youth, Jenkins studied at the Royal Academy of Music. She came to wide public attention in 2003 when she sang at Westminster Cathedral in honour of Pope John Paul II’s silver jubilee.
In 2017 she was named the biggest-selling artist of the past 25 years in the Ultimate Classic FM Chart and continues to dazzle audiences with her incredible vocals.
Of course there are still countless other Welsh names that we could include here, but this is a great place to start your journey to celebrating St David’s day in style! Did we miss your favourites? Get in touch with us on social media @millersmusic or use #MillersMusic for your chance to feature and share your sound with the world!