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ALOUD FOR DAD; Young star keeps his father's memory alive with gigs for elderly.

Byline: ABBIE WIGHTWICK abbie.wightwick@walesonline.co.uk

HE has sung to the nation on prime-time TV and performed live to crowds of thousands.

But Only Boys Aloud singing sensation Russell Jones says there is one audience he really loves performing to - residents at Wales' care homes.

Russell, whose dad - also Russell - died of cancer four year ago, says music keeps his memories of his father alive.

And it was only when he lost his father that the 21-year-old Russell realised he could sing.

Growing up in Pontypool, Russell used to set up equipment for his dad's shows in care homes, unaware he had a hidden talent for singing himself.

When his father, a lawyer and part-time singer, died of cancer in 2009 aged just 53, the young Russell took over.

"I suppose it started with my dad, I used to listen to the old style swing music he sang and when he died I just took over," said the Only Boys Aloud star. "About four years ago my father was taken ill and there was a crisis and I took over his role. I didn't know I could sing but I had set up his gear in a nursing home and I took the microphone and I liked it! I was so shocked I could do it - and my mother was too. From then on I did local shows and visited old people's homes and then I was asked to join Only Boys Aloud."

With Only Boys Aloud, Russell reached third in Britain's Got Talent, performed at the Wales Millennium Centre and sang with stars like Bonnie Tyler and Julian Lloyd Webber. Last week he was working with Ellie Goulding singing on the video for her new single Burn and he recently worked with X Factor stars, Union J.

"Ellie was great, really laid back," said Russell. "We filmed on an RAF base in Peterborough with jets taking off. I know some of the boys from Union J so that was great too."

But the singer admits he likes singing golden oldies best, especially Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole.

And he still finds time to visit elderly residents at care homes in Newport, Bettws, Cardiff, Pontypool, Cwmbran and Pontnewydd where he raises spirits with a medley of golden oldie tunes - just like his dad used to.

"I was really close to him," the singer said. "My dad inspired me. The music brings back memories and keeps me going. I just love doing music which makes people happy.

" I like to do a bit of music therapy work with the elderly because it brings back memories of different eras. I prefer the music of their generation rather than modern music." Russell is supporting the National Care Homes open day in Wales and sang in local Summerhill Group care homes on Friday.

Director of Nursing for the Summerhill Group, Alex Kelleher says residents love the Only Boys Aloud sensation.

"Russell started coming into some of our homes a few years ago and then he started with Only Boys Aloud and it has grown so that now he comes to all our homes.

"He's very good with the elderly and has such a nice manner.

"He's a lovely lad and very well liked.

"He gets people up dancing and sings with them, even the frail ones. It's lovely to see."

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On song: Russell Jones has found fame with Only Boys Aloud
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Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jun 23, 2013
Words:572
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