TikTok drag star Ellis and top tenor Rhys launch search for singers for hit TV show
A classically trained tenor has teamed up with a TikTok drag star to launch a search for budding singers from across Wales to perform with their musical idols.
Rhys Meirion, who hails from Porthmadog and now lives in Pwllglas, near Ruthin, and student Ellis Lloyd Jones, 23, from Treorchy in the Rhondda, are looking for music-loving dreamers to take part in dazzling duets on the S4C television series.
Last year Ellis, who has amassed 31 million views on TikTok, fulfilled his own ambition when he sang with the acclaimed Welsh singer-songwriter, Elin Fflur, during the first season of the hit show.
It created such a lasting impression on Ellis that he has joined forces with Rhys to urge individuals, families and groups of friends to follow in his footsteps and sign up for the second series.
Rhyd Meirion said he was excited to be presenting Canu Gyda fy Arwr (Singing with My Idol) which provides the ‘money can’t buy’ prize of singers performing with their idols.
Rhys said: “I have had the pleasure of singing with so many heroes of mine over the years and I know how much it means to those who appear on the show to get this opportunity.
“We are called the Land of Song and there are so many people out there in Wales who can sing.
“But they would never normally get the chance to perform with their heroes. This show gives them that opportunity.”
Canu Gyda fy Arwr seeks to provide the opportunity for people to fulfil their dreams of sharing the stage with a Welsh musical icon, regardless of their ability or experience.
“The people chosen to appear on the show do not need to be fantastic singers. It is about the actual experience and making sure the day is as special as it can possibly be for them,” Rhys Meirion said.
“The feedback we have had from people who took part in the first series has been extremely positive. They have thanked us for giving such a fantastic opportunity and allowing them to enjoy a day that they will never forget.
“We would encourage anyone who wants to take part to apply, or for someone to nominate them.”
Anyone wanting to take part or who would like to nominate somebody else needs to contact the Caernarfon-based production company, Cwmni Da, by June 30.
Recently, Ellis’s remarkable transformation from uncertain, bullied schoolboy to a sassy, happy and hilarious TikTok success story was featured in the BBC Wales TV series, Young, Welsh…and Bossin’ It, when he spoke about how drag had helped him as a young gay man growing up in the Valleys.
He said: “I started doing drag about five, six years ago. The biggest thing about it was my expression of femininity because it was something I had suppressed all my life.”
Ellis, who is studying at Cardiff University, became a sensation on the online video sharing platform during the first lockdown. His videos on TikTok have attracted an audience all over the world.
The Welsh speaker was even hired by the Welsh Government to spread safety messages throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
But he says that singing with Elin Fflur was a major highlight for him. He said: “It was an amazing experience to get to sing with Elin. It was like a dream.
“Elin was lovely and everybody involved in the show was very supportive. Rhys Meirion was great and it was lovely to chat to him.
“I would recommend that anybody who fancies take part in the show applies for it. It was such a great thing to be a part of.
“I know from living in South Wales and growing up in the Rhondda how many talented singers we have in the region.”
Reflecting on the whirlwind events of the past year, Ellis added: “It has been absolutely crazy.
“I only started doing TikTok for a bit of fun. Now I’ve got about 185,000 people following me on there. I am passionate about the Welsh language and proud to speak two languages.”
Dafydd Rhys Lloyd, the show’s assistant producer, said: “The first series was a real hit with viewers, and the singers involved – Elin Fflur, Dafydd Iwan and Shân Cothi – were tremendously supportive.
“Canu Gyda Fy Arwr is about celebrating the joy and emotion that comes from singing, so we encourage anyone who wants an unforgettable experience to apply.
“While the format of the second series remains broadly the same, there will be some exciting changes.
“We still want individuals to apply, but this time we’d also like to hear from groups of friends or family members, work colleagues or members of the same choir perhaps. “And if they want to sing with a musical duo, or their favourite band, then we’re here to make it happen.”