Live Music Now Wales singer/songwriter, John Nicholas has beaten off 20,000 hopefuls to take second place at the Open Mic UK championships in Birmingham NEC this January, whilst also taking home the coveted award for Best Original Song for his tune “Better Things” which will be released on iTunes in February.
The 25yr old, a graduate of University of Glamorgan’s Popular Music course, has been working as a freelance musician for just under a year – taking the plunge to follow his dreams at the same time he was accepted on to a 4yr scheme for early career professional musicians with UK wide charity Live Music Now in Wales.
“It has been an incredible year”, John said, “it is always a risk, leaving a paid job to become a freelance artist, but that risk seems to be paying off and I am so grateful for all the opportunities that have come my way this year – and to my wife for supporting me on this crazy journey!”
Previously a founder member and front man for the successful Bridgend folk/rock group Written In Kings, with whom he toured the UK and USA, John has spent most of his life making music, playing guitar, piano and most recently using loop pedal in his live performances. He is also an Ambassador for Prince’s Trust, who supported him with funding to purchase his first van for tours when he went solo.
His work with Live Music Now Wales has seen him perform exceptional live music for isolated elderly, those living with dementia, and children and young people with special educational needs across the country, including being part of a music project to support patients on renal dialysis at Morriston Hospital, Swansea. Most recently he has completed a 3 month residency with one of Britain’s best banjo players, Dan Walsh, also an LMN Musician, working with young people on the autistic spectrum at Headlands School, Penarth to write and perform original songs, and supported by a film maker from Chapter Arts Centre, create music videos to accompany them. The project was made possible with funding from Ffilm Cymru and Awards 4 All, and the branch hopes to be able to deliver it in other parts of Wales in the future.
“Working on the Vision & Voice project has been a dream,” John commented, “taking my own personal experiences of teaching in a special needs school, and combining it with my love of music to inspire and build skills in other young people has been amazing. To see their confidence, communication and musical skills build each week is incredibly rewarding, and continues to develop me as a musician as well. They even ended up busking their songs on Penarth High Street – something they would never have dreamed of doing when we first started working together!”
So what does the next year hold for this bright star in the making? New songs, and a personal recording project for his first solo EP are in the pipeline, more tours, and continued outreach work through Live Music Now, as he still seeks a recording contract, plus there is the small matter of becoming a Dad for the first time, as John’s first child is due in June.