Born at Trelogan, Flintshire, 6 April 1912, son of Pryce (coalminer) and Elizabeth Lloyd. He left Trelogan school when he was 14 years old and was apprenticed to a carpenter at Diserth. He took an interest in singing when quite young, and he regularly competed at small eisteddfodau in Flintshire and the Vale of Clwyd. In an eisteddfod held at Licswm, 18 July 1931, when he won a competition for those who had never gained a first prize, John Williams, Bangor, the adjudicator, prophesied that he would have a brilliant future as a singer, and suggested that the people of Flintshire should help him obtain the musical education necessary to enable him to follow a career as a professional singer.
A number of local concerts were held to assist him, and he abandoned his trade in 1933 when he won a Sam Heilbut Scholarship to study at the Guildhall School of Music, London. There he studied under Walter Hyde and won some of the highest honours, including the Catherine Howard prize for tenors (1934), a gold medal of the school (1937), and a medal of the City of London Worshipful Company of Musicians (1938). During 1938-39 he came into considerable prominence when he sang Verdi and Mozart at Glyndebourne and when he was selected to sing some of the leading parts in music festivals in Sweden, Denmark and Belgium. In 1940 he sang Mozart at Sadlers Wells, and if the war had not upset his plans no doubt he would also have sung at La Scala Milan and in the Metropolitan Opera House in New York later that year.
During his period of military service (in the Welsh Guards, 1940-45), he was active broadcasting, recording and holding concerts throughout Britain, and because of his readiness at all times to sing Welsh items he won the ear and heart of his nation and was idolised in their homes. At the end of the war he sang in Verdi and Mozart festivals in the Netherlands (1946), and by 1954 he had had the honour of singing under the baton of some of the foremost conductors of his day. He also broadcast regularly for over a quarter of a century and some of the radio series in which he participated from Cardiff, such as ‘Melys Lais’, and ‘Silver Chords’, were extremely popular.
He had an accident in 1954 which seriously affected his distinguished career as a professional singer, and although he took to singing again in 1960 the quality of his voice had deteriorated after having spent long periods in hospital. In his prime he possessed a melodious voice, of a wonderful lyrical quality, and he paid particular attention to the words of the song he endeavoured to interpret. In England he won fame for his rendering of the works of Mozart, whereas in Wales he is remembered as a singer who immortalised popular Welsh songs and hymn-tunes.
A national testimonial of £1,800 was presented to him at a public meeting in Flintshire College of Technology, 25 February 1961, and at Flint national eisteddfod., 1969, a memorial fund was established bearing his name ‘to offer practical assistance to some of our promising young people in the world of music.
He died unmarried in a hospital in Rhyl, 27 March 1969, and was buried in Picton cemetery, near Gwesbyr.
Published date: 2001
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