October 11, 2008

It’s Christmas Aloud! for Choir’s Album

By Katie Bodinger

ONLY Men Aloud! have just 24 hours left to record their first album.

And with their sights set firmly on a Christmas Number One - the pressure is on.

The winners of BBC talent show Last Choir Standing are on the verge of worldwide fame and are currently buried away in London's legendary Air Studios, where greats such as the Beatles have performed.

The 18-strong choir from Cardiff and the South Wales Valleys have put in 12-hour days for the past four days and have until tomorrow to ensure their music hits the right notes.

During a short lunch break, conductor and founder Tim Rhys-Evans said working on their first album had been an amazing experience.

"We are in state-of-the-art studios, in a converted church, where some of the world's biggest stars have recorded," said the 36-year- old yesterday. "Everyone's spirits are really very high.

We feel so appreciative of the opportunity and it feels so privileged to be here.

"The album features a lot of stuff people will know from the show as well as new songs. There will be a range of styles from classical to pop and a little bit of Christmas music so it should be a perfect stocking filler."

He added: "The boys have had to learn the songs in four rehearsals. But they all read music really well.

"After the show, we were eager to get something out as soon as possible. It would be amazing to be in the Christmas charts. To think we have even got a stab at it is incredible."

Made up of men aged 18 to their mid-30s, the group signed a five album record deal last week at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium with Universal MD Dickon Stainer, who is also responsible for signing Katherine Jenkins and Bryn Terfel. They insisted the contracts be written in English and Welsh, reflecting the patriotism they feel.

While the men remain tightlipped about the exact figure involved, the seven-figure sum is believed to be the highest ever paid to a choir.

Only Men Aloud!'s biggest show to date will be at the Wales Millennium Centre on December 13. Demand means they will now perform there the next night too.

"Six months ago we couldn't have dreamt of filling a 1,900- seater auditorium. We're really excited," said Tim, from Roath Park, Cardiff.

And he admitted that even now, their whirlwind success was still sinking in.

"The support we have had has been unbelievable," he said. "It's a dream come true. It sounds like a cliche but it's the truth."

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