Car salesmen, welders, high school pupils, teachers and tree surgeons walk into a cow shed in North Wales. It sounds like the setup of a joke, but this is a weekly occurrence at practices for the John’s Boys Male Chorus. The choir appeared in the audition round of Britain’s Got Talent 2023 on 29 April, reducing some of the judges to tears.
It was all laughs before John’s Boys started singing. Simon asked who they were? Conductor Aled Phillips gave the name of the choir and said that they were from Rhosllanerchrugog. Simon deadpanned “I know it”, prompting laughter. Phillips upped the ante by revealing where they practice before quipping that it was marvellous to see two-legged people.
As you’ve heard, the choir has a full-bodied sound, intricate harmonies and clearly enjoy singing together. When the camera pans to the judges, Simon is smiling, Alesha is wide-eyed (with possibly a little mist), while Amanda and Bruno openly tear up from pleasure. After the performance, the audience gives a standing ovation. Bruno commented: “I’m telling you, the blend of your voices and the balance of the harmonies, it was divine. I really felt like I was in music heaven. Perfection perfection!”
Predictably, given the reaction of the audience and judges, the choir received four yeses. If any issue with the decision has been aired on social media and in the press, it has to do with John’s Boys Male Chorus not getting the golden buzzer. Nonetheless, the choir was clearly delighted to go through to the next round. In the meantime, it’s back to the cowshed for more practice. In the next video, we see the chorus in their rehearsal space, singing Green, Green Grass of Home.
Green, Green Grass of Home, written by Claude “Curly” Putman Jr was a worldwide hit for Tom Jones in 1966. And yes, that is a cow’s head that pops its head into the right of the screen 44s into the video.
In an interview with Leuan and Teif, two of his pupils from Moreton Hall Prep, teacher and chorus member Aron Cook reveals that John’s Boys began rehearsing in the cow shed during the pandemic so that the members could practice social distancing. By Aron’s calculation, there are 37 singers in the choir, with ages ranging from 14 to 73.
John’s Boys Male Chorus was formed in 2016 when two regional choirs came together to jointly celebrate their former conductors John Glyn-Williams and John Tudor-Davies. Conductor Aled Phillips was inspired to enter the full component into the BBC Choir of the Year contest, where the chorus became the first male voice choir to reach the final. Since then John’s Boys have done well in a number of contests, including the Choir of the World contest.
John’s Boy’s performed Biblical by Calum Scott for their BGT audition. Interestingly, Calum Scott was a finalist on BGT 2015. He came sixth. His cover of Robyn’s Dancing on My Own was the biggest hit in Britain over the summer of 2016.
Here’s a cowshed-themed exchange from the John’s Boys’ Facebook page. Gary James asks “Do you have any udder cow puns?” Johns’ Boys Male Chorus reply: “Not too many udders, Gary. You’ve probably herd them all before, and they’re all udderly terri-bull!” If you would like to see more from John’s Boys Male Chorus, you can subscribe to their YouTube channel or follow them on Facebook.