Page last updated at 14:07 GMT, Tuesday, 30 September 2008 15:07 UK

Only Men Aloud! sign record deal

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Only Men Aloud! signed the deal at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff

It may have been pouring at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium, but nothing could rain on the parade for choir Only Men Aloud! as they secured a record deal.

The BBC Last Choir Standing talent show winners have signed a multimillion pound five-record contract.

The 18-strong Cardiff-based part-timers will now record the first of the albums in London next week.

But Universal Music managing director Dickon Stainer said he hoped their new celebrity would not change them.

"I hope they keep their feet on the ground - I'm sure they will," he said.

"Part of their appeal is who they are now: a regular bunch of guys."

It's cool to be in a choir
Dickon Stainer, Universal Music

Mr Stainer praised the choir and the BBC competition for making the tradition of male choir singing accessible to everyone.

Only Men Aloud! beat fellow Welsh finalists Ysgol Glanaethwy, from Bangor, to take the talent show title in August.

"We've seen over the years that Wales produces great singing talent from Bryn Terfel to Katherine Jenkins and we knew with this choir they had the potential to have a long career so we were thrilled to sign them," said Mr Stainer.

"The thing is it's cool to be in a choir. The Welsh choirs in the final were full of young people.

"They weren't frumpy, they weren't old, they weren't frosty, it was accessible, young people singing with a smile."

Only Men Aloud! was formed eight years ago in Cardiff
The choir celebrating after they won Last Choir Standing

Since then they have been working on securing an album deal and that was confirmed at a celebration at the home of Welsh rugby.

Tim Rhys Evans, Only Men Aloud!'s founder and musical director, told the champagne reception at the stadium: "When I was here six months ago watching the Wales team winning their Grand Slam I couldn't even have thought about or even dared to dream really that we would be here doing this today.

"It's been the most incredible summer. The support we've had from Wales has been absolutely phenomenal."

Choir member Stephen Hamnett, who cuts grass for a job, admitted it would be great if the deal changed his life.

But he added: "I 'm trying to keep it in perspective. Performing with the boys is a wonderful vibe but if we get a bit more money from it, fantastic, but it's just a great ride."

Fellow choir member Cardiff University student Tim Nelson said of the contract: "I think we all really enjoy what we're doing and it hasn't really sunk in."

Their first album will include Last Choir Standing favourites such as Don't Rain on My Parade and All By Myself, as well as some traditional Welsh hymns and "a few surprises."

The choir are also getting used to their new celebrity role.

A concert at the Wales Millennium Centre announced last week sold out within hours and they are to sing before Wales play Australia at the Millennium Stadium on 29 November.


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