A Welsh legend, this singer has been a central part of the culture in Wales for decades. The son of a coal miner, Sir Tom Jones grew up in Pontypridd performing in church choirs and at family occasions. He then became the frontman for Welsh beats group “Tommy Scott and the Senators” in 1963. Two years later, the song “It’s Not Unusual” was released and became a major hit in the UK and the US, and a string of hits followed. The 1990’s saw a resurgence in Tom’s musical career with his album Reload, which was a collection of cover duets with well known artists. It’s single Sex Bomb went straight to number on. More recently, he appeared as a coach on the talent show The Voice.
Renowned for her powerful voice, Welsh singer Bassey is known for her decade spanning career and recording the theme song to three James Bond films. She was born in Tiger Bay in 1937 and grew up in nearby Splott. Her incredible talent was not encouraged at school, with her quoted as saying that “even in the school choir, the teacher kept telling me to back off till I was singing in the corridor!”
She left school at fourteen to sing in local pubs and clubs. She went on to become the first ever Welsh artist to get to number one with her hit “As I Love You” in 1959. Following this, Bassey went on to amass 27 top 40 hits in the UK, including two number ones and win countless awards. In 2020, she became the first female artist to have a charting album in seven consecutive decades.
Cerys Matthews is a Welsh musician and singer, who was a founding member of Catatonia and leading figure in the “Cool Cymru” movement in Wales in the late 1990s. Cerys was born in 1969 and grew up in Swansea. She is cited as learning to play the guitar at the age of nine, teaching herself traditional songs, alongside Welsh folk songs. Catatonia were formed in 1992 and rose to fame after their breakthrough second record, International Velvet reached number one. Cerys then went on to have a solo career after Catatonia split in 2001. She now hosts weekly music shows on BBC radio 6 music, radio two and radio four, as well as being a television presenter.
Probably one of the most famous Welsh singers, Bonnie Tyler was born in 1951 in Neath. In 1969 she entered a talent show and came second place which inspired her to pursue a musical career. She came to prominence with her 1977 album “The World Starts Tonight” gaining some commercial success. “Total Eclipse of the Heart” came out in 1983 which would become her biggest hit, and one of the best selling singles of all time with over six million units sold. Known for her distinctive husky voice, Bonnie has released a total of 18 studio albums and 83 singles. She received an MBE for her services to music in 2022.
Charlotte Church was born in Llandaff in Cardiff in 1986 and had vocal lessons as a child. She rose to fame as a classical opera singer. At the age of just thirteen, Charlotte performed at the Royal Albert Hall and even sang alongside Dame Shirley Bassey. Her debut album “Voice of an Angel” sold millions of copies and catapulted Charlotte to fame, making her the youngest artist ever to have a No 1 album on the British classical crossover charts.
In 2005, she moved away from her opera background and released a successful pop album. In more recent times, Charlotte has turned her hand to acting, presenting and political activism, and opened her own school and wellness retreat.
Badfinger formed in 1961 in Swansea. Then called “The Iveys,” they were the first band to be signed by The Beatle’s “Apple” record label in 1968. They had four consecutive worldwide hits, including breakthrough single “Come and Get It” which was written and produced by Paul Mccartney. “Day After Day” was produced by George Harrison and features him as a guitarist They recorded five albums for the label as well as touring extensively.
Their song “Without You” has been recorded many times and became a number one hit for both Harry Nilsson, and later, Mariah Carey. They are considered to have been hugely influential on the power pop genre of the time, and have sold 14 million records. The tragic story of the demise of the band, alongside the death of two band members has sadly often overshadowed their incredible musical legacy in recent years.
Singer Katherine Maria Jenkins was born in Neath in Wales in 1980. After winning singing competitions as a child, she studied at the Royal Academy of Music and decided to pursue a career as a opera singer. Six out of seven of Katherine’s records reached number one in the UK classical charts and sold more than 4 million copies. She has sung with the likes of Andrea Bocelli, Ronan Tynan and Paul Potts, performed for the Royal Family on several occasions and won two Classic BRIT awards. In 2017, she was declared as the best selling classical artist of the last 25 years in the UK and remains of the most famous singers to emerge from Wales.
Singer Michael Barratt, known professionally as Shakin’ Stevens, was born in Wales in 1948. Growing up in the Ely area of Cardiff, Michael began singing in a rock and roll group formed at school in the 1960s. He worked as a milkman and upholsterer after leaving school but would perform at pubs and clubs every weekend.
He went on to sing in several groups, and took a role as Elvis in a West End Musical. In the early 80’s, he started his solo career and shot to the top of the UK charts with “This Ole House” followed by a string of other successes. He remains the biggest selling singles artist of the 1980s.
Catfish and the Bottlemen
Formed in 2007 by four friends in Lladudno in North Wales, Catfish and the Bottlemen are a blend of alternative and indie. In the early years, they promoted themselves by playing in support slots to friends bands, and even in car parks after other artists gigs. An early demo of theirs was played by Steve Lamaq on radio 6 music in 2009.
Their debut album The Balcony went to number 10 in the UK featuring “Kathleen,” “Cocoon” and “Hourglass” and secured their place as one of the most exciting Welsh bands of the time. Having toured extensively around the globe, and performed at many festivals including Glastonbury and Reading and Leeds, Catfish and the Bottlemen are known for their exhilarating live shows.
Hailing from the village of Cwmaman in the Cynon Valley, Stereophonics are undoubtedly one of the most well known bands on this list. Songs such as “Dakota” and “Have a Nice Day” have earned them mainstream recognition and phenomenal success over the decades. Originally formed in 1992, singer Kelly Jones and drummer Stuart Cable lived on the same street and began playing together as teenagers in the late 80s, before bringing in guitarist Richard Jones and started performing as a trio, a few years later.
Their debut record Word Gets Around was released in 1997, and they won the Best New Group at the BRITS the year after. Having gained huge success in the indie and mainstream music scene, selling 8.5 million albums in the UK alone, they are still writing music today and performed a sell out gig at the Principality Stadium in 2022.
Super Furry Animals
Formed in Cardiff in 1993, Super Furry Animals are known as important figures in the Welsh music scene and frequently referred to as one of the best Welsh bands ever. They achieved success in the 90s and beyond with their perfectly crafted pop rock songs such as “Something 4 The Weekend” and “Golden Retriever.”
By originally writing and performing in Welsh, which was unusual for Welsh artists who gained commercial popularity at the time, they were described as championing the Welsh language. Super Furry Animals were dominant in the “Cool Cymru” era, and went on to record nine studio albums.
Manic Street Preachers
Manic Street Preachers, also known as simply the Manics, were formed in 1986 in Blackwood where they went to school together and “Generation Terrorists” came out in 1992. Their early combination of androgynous glam imagery and lyrics about “alienation and despair” gained them a loyal following. They were also a key part of the Welsh Cool Cymru cultural movement. They went on to reach number one in the UK four times, and sold more than ten million records worldwide, as well as winning a whole host of awards including four BRIT awards.
Singer songwriter Aimee Anne Duffy started life in Bangor, in NorthWales. She started performing locally aged 15, before making her debut in the UK charts in 2008 with her song Mercy. Coined as the “Welsh Adele,” Duffy was one of the most exciting rising British stars of the time. She is celebrated for her unique combination of pop and soul, and incredible singing voice. Her hits include “Warwick Avenue” and “Stepping Stone.” She sang at the Royal Variety Performance in 2008, and has toured the UK, Europe and the US.
Feeder are a rock band from Newport who got together in 1992. By 1995 they released two EP’s followed by “Polythene.” They are cited as one of the Britpop era bands to have continued their success long after their peak. Their successes are endless and include 43 singles, as well as featuring in the Kerrang Hall of Fame in 2019 for “distinguished services to rock.”
They have been praised for surviving changing trends over the decades. Their most popular tracks include “Buck Rogers,” “High” and “Just The Way I’m Feeling.” Their most recent record “Torpedo” was released in 2022.
The Joy Formidable
The Joy Formidable are an alternative group formed in Mold, in North Wales. Characterised as a mix of alt-rock, indie and pop, The Joy Formidable are known for their on stage chemistry and live performances. Their latest album Into the Blue, was widely praised and described as showcasing “why the Joy Formidable are one of modern music’s most powerful bands”, ten years after their debut. In 2022, the band began a world tour that kicked off at the Rhosesmor Village Hall in their hometown of Mold.
Hailing from Cowbridge in South Wales, the members of The Automatic met at primary school in the early 90s and formed a band at the age of thirteen. In 2005, they signed a record deal with B-Unique Records in their gap year and released their platinum selling first album “Not Accepted Anywhere” the following year. The well known single “Monster” reached number four in the UK .
The electronica band instrumentally used various synthesisers in both their recordings and live performances. They went on to form their own label, Armoured Records which was distributed through EMI, and they independently released their third album “Tear The Signs Down” in 2010.
Singer songwriter, Gwenno Mererid Saunders, who goes by the stage name of Gwenno, was born in Wales in the early 80s. She grew up speaking both Welsh and Cornish fluently. She started her musical career making electro pop, singing in both languages. She later joined indie pop band The Pipettes in 2005 as a vocalist.
She released her debut solo album “Y Dydd Olaf” which won the 2014-15 Welsh Music Prize. Her second album, “Le Kov” and saw Gwenno tour around Europe and Australia, supporting acts such as Suede and the Manic Street Preachers. She has recorded two albums in Cornish and one in Welsh. Her latest record “Tresor” came out in 2022 and has been nominated for the Mercury prize.
Funeral For A Friend
Funeral For A Friend are a Welsh post hardcore band whose name derives from a song by Planes Mistaken for Stars. They originally formed in the Welsh town of Bridgend in 2001. Their debut record “Casually Dressed & Deep In Conversation” is acclaimed as one of the “landmark emo records of the 2000s.” Their genre is described as a mix of emo, post hardcore and screamo. Their most well known hits include “Roses for the Dead” and “Juneau.” They played their last gig in 2016 to a sold out Forum in London, but went on to reunite in 2019 for a number of shows.
Bullet For My Valentine
Bullet For My Valentine are a heavy metal band hailing from Bridgend. An earlier version of the band called Jeff Killed John performed covers by Metallica and Nirvana and formed when the band members were studying music at Bridgend college together. They went on to win Best Newcomer at the Welsh Music Awards in 2004.
Their debut album “The Poison” came out a year later and included tracks “Tears Don’t Fall” and “All These Things I Hate (Revolve Around Me.)” They set out on a world tour upon its release and later toured with Metallica, Avenged Sevenfold and Slayer. Their music has been described as consisting of “heavy metal leads and post hardcore vocals.” They have continued to regularly release music, with six more albums under their belt, the most recent in 2021.
Marina Diamandis, previously known by the stage name Marina and the Diamonds, is a Welsh singer songwriter from Brynmawr, in Gwent. She was raised in Abergavenny by her Welsh mother and Greek father. Her debut studio album “The Family Jewels” came out in 2010 and was a mix of indie pop and new wave. She performed at BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend, Glastonbury and the Reading and Leeds Festivals in the same year. She then went on to open for Katy Perry’s California Dreams Tour. Her second album “Electra Heart” in 2012 reached number one and was certified gold in the US and the UK. She has since released three more studio albums, the most recent being in 2021. Marina is a mezzo-soprano and is known for her eclectic style. She says that Madonna is the reason she wanted to be a pop star.from the age of 15.
Famous welsh singers
It’s a well known fact that Wales has produced some of the finest singing talent we have ever seen, which is reflected in this list of the 20 most famous Welsh bands singers, all of which are world class artists. This is attributed to the rich musical tradition in Wales, rooted in Celtic culture which has been passed down from generation to generation. It is also said that the lyrical quality of the Welsh language, lends itself well to singing.