The COVID-19 pandemic has forced musicians around the world to change their plans. What have you been up to while live concerts have been on hold?
I’m very lucky that I also present on TV and broadcast on Classic FM in the UK, so as well as writing a book of Everyday Blessings and recording the album, I’ve been focusing on the TV and radio.
Aled Jones. Photo supplied
Why did you choose to name your new album Blessings?
It’s an album that uses uplifting words from around the world – from different faiths and none. We all need these little blessings at the moment to take us somewhere else away from the norm.
Blessings is your 40th album – did this milestone influence the way you put the program together?
No, 40 is only a number – I feel blessed to be able to do what I do and long may it continue. Singing for me is as natural as breathing and I’ve so missed it this year.
What are the most important lessons you’ve learned across your career and the previous 39 albums?
I never take anything for granted but lockdown has made me appreciate everything more. To live in the moment and savour.
The album features several collaborations, including with Sami Yusuf, Dame Judi Dench and more. What do you feel these duets bring to the album, and what was it like working with all of these different artists?
I’m convinced they only said yes because of lockdown boredom! Every person brings a magic – to be able to combine a Muslim and Christian piece with Sami was a joy and the reaction has been incredible. Having my mate Judi OK the Quaker song is a dream come true – she is unique and a joy. Equally Susan Boyle, The Priests and Libera too. And let’s not forget seal D-Day veteran Harry Billinge. They all combine to bring ‘Blessings’ to life.
The COVID-19 pandemic meant you couldn’t collaborate with the Tabernacle Choir of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints – what were you hoping to sing with them? Are you still hoping to record with the choir in the future?
They were the ones that got away! We were going to record Down to the River to Pray – I’d actually recorded my vocals but we decided to wait so that we can do something together in the future. I’m a huge fan of their sound.
There are many settings of Ave Maria – including the famous Schubert and Bach/Gounod versions – what’s special about the Michał Lorenc setting you sing on this album?
I am always trying to find music that people haven’t recorded and this is such a piece. I think I’ve recorded nearly every other setting of Ave Maria over the years. I love this version as I feel it has real heart and soul. It also requires big lungs!!
There’s also a nod to Australia on the album, why is that?
Because I love Australia – it’s my second home. I’d love part of the year there if I could! I am so lucky that I get to tour there and long may it continue. Australia will always have a special place in my heart. See you in 2021!
Aled Jones’ Blessings is out now