Musical staff

Singing undertaker helps Pontarddulais show appreciation for NHS staff

The man known as the ‘singing undertaker’ has done his part to show his appreciation for the hard work of NHS staff throughout the pandemic.

Classically trained baritone and funeral director James Murray took part in a charity concert organized by the community of Pontarddulais.

The concert at the Siloh Chapel in Pontarddulais saw a choir perform various well-known hymns under the musical direction of Alun Tregelles Williams and accompanied by organist Ian Lewis.

The free event was organized as a way to give back to local NHS staff who have worked tirelessly to support patients throughout the pandemic.

Although there is no admission charge for the concert, a total of £500 was raised through donations to support local NHS services.

Mr Murray said: “It has been an honor and a pleasure to perform and help raise much needed funds for our NHS.

“It was great to see us reunited in person, singing together for the first time since the pandemic began.

“We would like to say a huge thank you to those who attended and were moved to donate even a little of their resources and money to help thank the amazing doctors and nurses who are protecting our community during the pandemic. and beyond.”

Mr Murray, who works for the William Pressdee Co-op Funeralcare in Mumbles, Swansea, became known for singing for bereaved families throughout the lockdown, earning him the nickname “the singing undertaker”.

The 35-year-old said: “When we first went into lockdown I wanted to show my support for the families and decided to offer my services as a soloist.

“Music is an extremely important and personal part of a funeral. It offers the opportunity to pay homage to the personality and passions of a loved one. Many families I support are so grateful that I can help with this aspect of the funeral as well. It’s heartwarming to see the pride and emotion on people’s faces when they hear the favorite song of someone they love and miss so much.

“It’s a privilege to sing for mourners and it’s something I plan to continue to do.”

Mr Murray has been singing for over 20 years and was trained by his choirmaster at St Mary’s Church in Swansea when he was 13.

Aged 16, Mr Murray performed on the backing tracks for Katherine Jenkins’ album Second Nature with the National Youth Choir of Wales, of which she was also a member for three years.

Her proudest moment to date was singing a piece specially written by Sir Karl Jenkins, with an orchestra conducted by Sir Karl, in a mass choir, with Bryn Terfel as soloist, at the opening of the Royal Gala Wales Millennium Center in front of the Queen, Prince Charles and Prince Philip in 2004.

The baritone granted families wishes by singing live versions of hymns – one of the most popular choices is Calon Lân – as well as Welsh choral classics and well-known band hits, including a version of You Raise Me Up, popularized by Westlife.

The Vicar of Oystermouth, Swansea, Canon Keith Evans, said: ‘Like many funeral directors across the country, James has been one of our valued frontline workers who has cared for our loved ones for the pandemic.

“Blessed with a beautiful baritone voice, James performed hymns and songs at most of our local funerals, transforming services for so many families and bereaved.

“Being able to listen to the comforting words of our ancient and modern hymns has meant a lot to all of us. I want to thank James from the bottom of my heart for all he does for our community.