Page last updated at 10:21 GMT, Wednesday, 20 May 2009 11:21 UK
Cool to be Cerys once more
Cerys Matthews
Cerys found it hard to handle fame as the face of Cool Cymru

By Andy Roberts
BBC South East Wales

Cerys Matthews is finding her feet back in the limelight after the pressures of fame as lead singer of Catatonia.

The Cardiff-born star is rebuilding her career as a solo performer and as a radio presenter with BBC 6 Music.

She was thrust into the spotlight as one of the faces of Cool Cymru in the 1990s but Catatonia broke up amid rumours of bust-ups and breakdowns.

An appearance on the reality TV show I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here helped restore her popularity.

Equally cursed and blessed

Although Cerys was born in Cardiff, her family moved around frequently, settling in Swansea before moving to the Fishguard area of west Wales.

Her interest in music developed during school holidays spent with the family in north Pembrokeshire.

There she first picked up an acoustic guitar and began to play Beatles songs and Welsh folk tunes.

Leaving school with A-levels in biology and textiles, Cerys then spent some time studying psychiatric nursing and working as a nanny in Spain before returning to school in Fishguard where she gained two extra A-levels.

Catatonia
Catatonia called it a day in 2001 after a string of hits

In the summer of 1992 songwriter Mark Roberts spotted Cerys busking in Cardiff and duly formed the band Catatonia.

They signed to Welsh label Crai and spent years touring the festival circuit and playing low-key gigs.

After critical acclaim for their early singles the band was signed by Warner Music and released the debut album Way Beyond Blue in 1996.

It introduced the wider world to their catchy pop guitar riffs and passion-infused vocals.

After moderate chart success with singles such as Sweet Catatonia and You've Got A Lot To Answer For, the breakthrough came in 1998.

Mulder and Scully and Road Rage both hit the Top 5, and the band's second album International Velvet went triple platinum.

The band became festival favourites while Cerys was crowned the Queen of Pop and became a cover star for the music press and lad's mags.

However, she seemingly found it hard to handle fame - perhaps indicated by the title of Catatonia's third album Equally Cursed and Blessed in 1999.

It didn't prove as popular as its predecessor and rumours of the band's impending demise began to circulate.

In summer 2001 Cerys pulled out of a tour to promote the band's fourth album Paper Scissors Stone, blaming anxiety and stress.

Despite initial denials, confirmation of Catatonia's split was confirmed in September that year.

Cerys Matthews
It's a jungle out there - Cerys returned to the limelight in I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!

While keeping a fairly low profile, Cerys couldn't stay away from the music scene for long, recording the theme tune to Welsh-language children's cartoon Sali Mali.

In 2002 she went to Nashville where she recorded a solo album and fell in love with record producer Seth Riddle.

The couple were married in February 2003 at Rehoboth Chapel near Trefin, Pembrokeshire, in a pretty rock'n'roll style of wedding - the guests were dressed as 1930s gangsters and molls, while the bride arrived on a tractor.

Cerys launched her solo career with the release of a folk and country influenced album Cockahoop in May 2003.

She appeared in a string of live gigs and TV shows to promote the CD while pregnant with her first child, giving birth to daughter Glenys. Two years later she had a son, Johnny, but her marriage to Seth broke down.

Seemingly wary of fame, Cerys slowly returned to live performance, and surprisingly hit the headlines in 2007 with her appearance on the ITV reality game show I'm A Celebrity ... Get Me Out Of Here! and subsequent romance with fellow contestant Marc Bannerman.

With her engaging personality and love of music, Cerys turned her hand to radio presenting with the digital station BBC 6 Music.

She's been given her first regular daily slot presenting the station's lunchtime show from June 2009 while Nemone takes maternity leave.




SEE ALSO
6 Music radio show for Matthews
19 May 09 |  Entertainment
Cerys Matthews praises poetry
19 May 09 |  Entertainment
Cerys Matthews on motherhood
20 May 09 |  Wales childhood

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