ALED JONES ANNOUNCES NEW ALBUM – BLESSINGS. Out 6 Nov thru BMG.
FEATURING DUETS WITH DAME JUDI DENCH, SAMI YUSUF, THE PRIESTS, LIBERA, SUSAN BOYLE, BRIAN BLESSED AND D DAY VETERAN HARRY BILLINGE MBE
· AN ACCOMPANYING BOOK, EVERYDAY BLESSINGS, WITH BEAUTIFULLY ILLUSTRATED QUOTES PUBLISHED ON NOVEMBER 6TH, 2020 BY HODDER AND STOUGHTON
· 25 DAY UK CATHEDRAL TOUR FOR 2021 ANNOUNCED
Pre-order the album here
Needless to say, 2020 was never a year anyone would have anticipated. But throughout the uncertain times a sense of unity, humanity and kindness provided those all too important green shoots as we came together as one, setting onto an unchartered path.
For 2020, and his 40th album, one of our most loved singers Aled Jones presents Blessings. An idea first incubated a few years ago, the album speaks to the senses we have all felt, as well as faith, spirituality, and most importantly creating a holistic album for all. The album will be released on BMG on November 6th.
A labour of love, over this summer Aled personally took charge to curate and bring together the narrative for Blessings, one that would reinforce the strength of music in bringing people together. The album was recorded remotely in studios around the world and produced by international multi-platinum selling producer Ian Tilley.
“It has really been a cathartic experience for me; I’ve also learnt that we are all so similar, we all share so much. The challenges of doing the recordings remotely in a way made everything more special. When we look back on these times, we will remember how we all came together, and achieved things we never thought we could”.
Accompanying the album release is Everyday Blessings – a book of blessings for every day of the year - a rich treasure trove of wisdom from across the ages, compiled by Aled, published on November 6th by Hodder and Stoughton.
Blessings touches on a range of faiths and beliefs - Quaker, Christian, Catholic, Muslim, Buddhism – through a range of uplifting hymns, texts and scriptures set to music. At the heart of the album is Aled’s firm belief that peace, love and kindness are at the core of all faiths - these are the values that bind us together and come to us times of need.
For this project, Aled also set about enlisting artists of all faiths and beliefs to collaborate, something that has never been done before.
In what is a first, Aled duets with British singer/songwriter and humanitarian Sami Yusuf – one of the biggest selling artists in the Muslim world – for Song Of Our Maker. The piece incorporates both Muslim and Christian faiths. (listen to song here)
“I emailed Sami with the idea – he came back almost immediately! His reaction was so positive. With this song I really think it is proof and testament that faiths can interlink, it’s the real power of music. I love Sami’s energy and voice and I’m so pleased we could interweave a Christian hymn with a traditional Muslim song.”
A duet with Dame Judi Dench – How Can I Keep From Singing – represents the Quaker faith. Aled and Dame Judi have been friends for over 25 years and are both involved in the charity Story of Christmas. Aled said, “I’m so thankful to Jude for being on my album. Hearing her iconic voice on the track sends shivers down my spine.
“When I mentioned the idea to her she loved it. It’s brilliant that she’s a part of this. It’s the icing on the cake for me”.
As one of the biggest selling Catholic artists in the world, Aled enlisted The Priests for a beautiful traditional Irish Blessing.
“I’ve known the gents for a number of years now, we often would bump into each other on Songs Of Praise. They have wonderful, spinetingling harmonies”
One of the most special collaborations for Aled involves the 94-year-old D-Day veteran Harry Billinge MBE. Aled first met Harry on Songs Of Praise when the programme came from Normandy and remembered those who lost their lives on that fateful day. Harry was only 18 when he was given the command to land on the beach - his words about love and remembrance touch the soul. If I Can Help Somebody/Let There Be Peace On Earth also sees Aled duet with his younger self – Harry speaks between both pieces. His heartfelt words are a beacon of hope for a future generation.
“Harry is a true inspiration for so many. Hearing him talk about loss, I could never forget his words. I really wanted to record the moment. The words ‘love is stronger than hate. I want people to remember because I can’t forget. It’s a message of our time”.
Since first meeting Harry and Aled have become firm friends.
The evening blessing – Vespera – takes an uplifting pop beat, as Aled enlists the boy choristers Libera.
“This is such as a wonderful piece of music; I’ve known Robert Prizeman who leads them for years, but this has had a wonderful update which really feels life affirming. I love these boys so much I had them sing at my wedding!
Bless This House is a Christian standard that was a favourite of forces sweetheart and another of Aled’s acquaintances and former duet partner Dame Vera Lynn. For this version Aled has teamed up with the Scottish singer Susan Boyle.
“Over the years I’ve met Susan quite a few times and was thrilled when she agreed to sing with me. Who can forget when she charmed a nation with the Les Mis classic I Dreamed A Dream on Britain’s Got Talent. I knew this song would suit Susan and she didn’t disappoint. Her vocals are both touching and powerful”.
The solo tracks on the album hold a wide ranging of meaning to Aled. Highlighting the Jewish faith, Sunrise Sunset, from the musical Fiddler On The Roof, is a song that Aled has wanted to record for quite some time.
“I’ve always loved this song – as my voice has more depth now, I really feel that I’ve been able to record this song as I had always wanted to. The song is about children growing up – my daughter’s an adult now. It’s unbelievable how quickly time has gone by”
Paying homage to his Welsh roots, Aled performs Anfonaf Angel – a beautiful Welsh song about the spirit of your partner always protecting you, even when they have passed.
“This has to be one of my personal favourites on the album. Robat Arwyn is a genius composer. The marriage of words and music is just timeless. We did this in one take!
“It was important for me to have a song on the album that’s spiritual but doesn’t belong to any organised faith. This piece touches the soul and literally makes me cry every time I sing it!”
Australia has always been a special place for Aled – having toured there numerous times over the years, he wanted to pay homage to a country he loves deeply.
“I always joke that Australia is my second home! I’ve been there 10 times. For me this is to bless the Southern Hemisphere. I feel such a connection to nature and the people. I hope my Aussie fans like it “
As Blessings had no fixed parameters, Aled enlisted his long-term collaborator and good friend, composer Howard Goodhall. Loving Kindness incorporates Eastern Hindu and Buddhist texts of peace, love and kindness - the basic ethos of the album
“We both did a lot of research for this. Going out of our comfort zone was a real learning curve. The powerful message of this piece is that we are all the same.”
Listen, Obey And Be Blessed - a modern Jehovahs’ Witness Blessing – proved to be an unexpected gem for Aled.
“Ian and I weren’t familiar with this song at all. It was like nothing I had recorded previously– taking me out of my comfort area, challenging my voice, widening my perspective, that’s really what it’s all about”
Aled has also recorded the Christmas classic, Silent Night, but with a difference. He has enlisted the striking voice of actor Brian Blessed.
“Having Brian on this recording is wonderful. I cannot wait for everyone to hear it”.
The final solo track is Ave Maria – a religious text that holds a special meaning to many. Well known to so many, with the music by French composer Michal Lorenc. This composition has only ever been recorded once before.
“This was the most challenging of all to record. I think I’ve recorded every other version of Ave Maria! This one has such long phrases; it took the longest to get right – there is a stunning violin solo. But my, this is such a wonderful recording, and really hope everyone loves it as much as I do”
Aled had originally planned to cover even more faiths with the project, however Covid unfortunately derailed one of these opportunities.
“We had planned to work with 300 strong Tabernacle Choir, of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, however due to Covid we were not able to make this happen which I’m saddened by – alas we’ll have to wait ‘till next year to sing this track live with them instead!”
Album Track listing
1. How Can I Keep From Singing? (with Dame Judi Dench)
2. Sunrise Sunset
3. Ave Maria
4. Bless This House (with Susan Boyle)
5. Anfonaf Angel
6. Loving Kindess
7. If I Can Help Somebody / Let There Be Peace On Earth (with Harry Billinge MBE)
8. Vespera (with Libera)
9. Australian Blessing
10. Irish Blessing (with The Priests)
11. Down By The Salley Gardens
12. Song Of Our Maker (with Sami Yusuf) – listen to song here
13. Listen, Obey and Be Blessed
14. Silent Night (with Brian Blessed)
Everyday Blessings – Book Contents
January – New Beginnings
February – Love Never Fails
March – Do the Little Things
April – High Days and Holidays
May – Be Kind
June – Summer Sunshine
July – Childhood Memories
August – The Arts
September – Back to School
October – Conkers!
November – Remembrance
December – The Most Wonderful Time of the Year
2021 Cathedral Tour
1 May 2021 Paisley Abbey
3 May 2021 Durham Cathedral
4 May 2021 Manchester Monastery
5 May 2021 Bangor Cathedral
7 May 2021 St David’s Cathedral
8 May 2021 St Aspah Cathedral
10 May 2021 St Mary’s Church
11 May 2021 Winchester Cathedral
12 May 2021 Guildford Cathedral
14 May 2021 Llandaff Cathedral Cardiff
15 May 2021 Portsmouth Cathedral
17 May 2021 St Albans Cathedral
18 May 2021 Rochester Cathedral
19 May 2021 Exeter Cathedral
21 May 2021 Coventry Cathedral
22 May 2021 Lichfield Cathedral
24 May 2021 Hereford Cathedral
25 May 2021 Liverpool Cathedral
26 May 2021 Beverley Minster
28 May 2021 Wakefield Cathedral
29 May 2021 Ely Cathedral
1 June 2021 Chelmsford Cathedral
2 June 2021 Bristol Cathedral
3 June 2021 Wells Cathedral 10 June 2021 Dublin National Concert Hall
I am overwhelmed by the kindness of everyone. So freely given and so gratefully received.
Harry Billinge MBE
It was an honour to be asked by Aled to duet on 'Bless This House'. Due to Covid we had to sing our parts separately in studios at opposite ends of the country, but here’s hoping in the not too distant future we can perform this lovely song together. - Susan Boyle
I hope this album offers a moment out from the uncertainty and stress of the world around us at the moment. Whether you subscribe to a faith or not this album is a time out moment - a chance to escape somewhere else and focus on the positive in all our lives. - Aled Jones