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Cerys Matthews ( ; born Cerys Elizabeth Matthews, 11 April 1969, Cardiffmarker, Walesmarker) is a Welsh singer and songwriter. She is best known as the lead singer of the Welsh rock band Catatonia, for her 1999 Christmas duet with Tom Jones and her 2007 appearance on I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here.


Matthews was born in Cardiff and brought up in Swanseamarker and Pembrokeshiremarker, and is a fluent Welsh speaker and multi-instrumentalist. She has cited her childhood heroes as being Pippi Longstocking and The Wombles due to their love of recycling. She learned to play the guitar at the age of 9 - teaching herself blues and rude Irishmarker folk songs. After a stint in Spainmarker as a nanny, where she learned to speak Spanish and Catalan, Matthews worked for Pembrokeshire County Council. She later moved back to Cardiffmarker and became involved with the local music scene, meeting Mark Roberts. She currently resides in Londonmarker with her two children Glenys Pearl, and John-Jones. On 23 November 2009 she gave birth to a second son, who was 8 weeks premature.


The band was formed in 1992, reputedly after Roberts heard Matthews busking in a street in Cardiff city centre (this later turned out to be a story fabricated by the band, as Matthews had known Roberts for some time, although they did often go busking). She subsequently sang lead vocals on, and co-wrote the music and lyrics for, the band's hits, including "You've Got a Lot to Answer For", "Mulder and Scully", "Dead From the Waist Down", and "Road Rage", and played guitar on the earlier material before second guitarist Owen Powell joined the band. She also performed a single with the band Space named "The Ballad of Tom Jones", which tells the story of two lovers who want to kill each other, but then hear a Tom Jones song that defuses their homicidal feelings. In addition, she collaborated with Tom Jones to record a version of Frank Loesser's "Baby, It's Cold Outside" on Jones' album Reload. Matthews was once voted the "Sexiest Female in Rock" in a 1999 readers' poll in the now defunct magazine, Melody Maker.

Catatonia's split

After Catatonia's rise to fame with their second album International Velvet, and subsequent success with third release Equally Cursed And Blessed, Catatonia returned in 2001 with their fourth studio album Paper Scissors Stone. During promotional appearances for this album it became clear that Matthews was not coping well with the increased pressure, suffering from anxiety and nervous exhaustion. On 21 September 2001, the band officially split.

Sali Mali cartoon series

In December 2001, Matthews returned to the recording studio for the first time since Catatonia split up.She went back to the studio to record a song in both English and Welsh for the pre-school cartoon series Sali Mali.


Matthews moved to Nashvillemarker, Tennesseemarker in the early summer of 2002. On her arrival she handpicked Bucky Baxter, who had played lap steel guitar for Bob Dylan and Ryan Adams. She had already collected seventy-six traditional folk songs with the idea of making an album of folk covers. But her debut album, Cockahoop, ended up as being mainly of her own songs. It was recorded in seven months and appeared on Blanco y Negro in the UKmarker in May 2003. Whilst recording this album she met Seth Riddle and they married in Pembrokeshire in February 2003, and toured the album around Britain but with minimal promotion as she was several months pregnant at the time. Its Stateside release followed in October 2004.

In December 2005, Matthews recorded a new version of Len Barry's 1960s UK top 10 hit "1-2-3" in Nashville, Tennessee. She released it as a download-single with all profits going to a children's charity.

In spring 2006, Matthews with a new band introduced material from her upcoming album at SXSW in Austin, Texasmarker.

Never Said Goodbye album

In July and August 2006 Matthews conducted a short tour of the UK to promote her new second solo album entitled Never Said Goodbye (released in the UK by Rough Trade on 21 August 2006). The new album was preceded by the single "Open Roads" (released 7 August 2006). Band members included K. Teel on guitar, Ben Elkins playing keyboards, Mason Neely on drums, and Jeff Irwin playing bass. She headlined Cardiff's Big Weekend festival on 6 August 2006.

During September and October 2006, Matthews embarked on an extensive UK and Ireland tour, during which she played tracks from her first two solo albums, as well as three Catatonia hits. She also embarked upon a short acoustic Welsh tour in November 2006, before returning to Nashville for Christmas.

Matthews appeared at the live 'Guilty Pleasures' concert at the Hackney Empiremarker, London on 20 March 2007, performing the Bonnie Tyler hit "Total Eclipse of the Heart" and the Dolly Parton/Kenny Rogers duet "Islands in the Stream" along with Terry Hall and the BBC Concert Orchestra

In an interview on the eve of the launch of her Welsh mini-album Awyren = Aeroplane, Matthews confirmed she had divorced from Riddle and temporarily moved back to her farm in Pembrokeshire. Awyren = Aeroplane won her the 'Contemporary Composition' award in the National Eisteddfod - the award being resurrected and presented for the first time since 1986.

In 2007 Matthews became Vice-President of the Welsh homelessness charity, Shelter Cymru. She also accepted a role of Performing Arts Ambassador for Linden Lodge School, Surreymarker in the same year.

I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here (Series 7)

Matthews appeared on the 2007 series of ITV's I'm a Celebrity... Get Me out of Here!, which aired from 12 to 30 November. She was voted off on 29 November one day before the final episode, coming fourth behind Jason 'J' Brown, Janice Dickinson and the eventual winner of the series, Christopher Biggins. Matthews also got together with fellow contestant Marc Bannerman after the show, but they split 4 months later.

NME Shockwaves Awards and Big Gig 2008

Matthews joined the Welsh band Manic Street Preachers on-stage at The O2marker on 28 February 2008 to sing the female vocals of their 2007 hit "Your Love Alone Is Not Enough", (in place of Nina Persson, of the Swedish group The Cardigans, who featured on the studio version), in both the awards ceremony (within indigO2) and at the following 'Big Gig' live show (within The O2 arenamarker).


From November 2008 Matthews sat in for Stephen Merchant and Marc Riley on BBC 6 Music and went on to present George Lamb's slot in April 2009. In May 2009 she presented show A Month of Sundays With... Cerys Matthews. She now presents her own show Cerys on 6 on the same station, including virtual radio roadtrips , musical challenges and back-to-school features on subjects as diverse as. the boll weevil, the Vietnam War, the Bo Diddley beat and Hildegard von Bingen. She is currently on maternity leave from the show.

Don't Look Down: Paid Edrych i Lawr album and tour

Matthews released her first CD in two years on 5 October 2009. The album, entitled Don't Look Down, was released in two versions, one in English and the other in Welsh (the title of the Welsh edition being Paid Edrych i Lawr). It was recorded in Providence, Rhode Islandmarker, Nashville, Seattlemarker and London and coincided with a sell-out two week UK tour in October.


After covering the Glastonbury Festivalmarker for both BBC Television and BBC Radio 6, she recently wrote and presented a BBC Two programme on celtic poetry, documentaries on the singer Dorothy Squires, and music of the Mississippimarker.



Compilation albums



  1. A star is reborn The independent
  2. Troubled Catatonia split up BBC News
  3. Cartoon Sali Mali joins Channel 4 BBC News 28 July 2009 Retrieved 23 November 2009
  4. Cerys arrives for wedding on tractor BBC Wales - 22 February, 2003
  5. "1-2-3" download
  6. "1-2-3 (For a Very Good Reason)" commercial film
  7. Divorced Cerys returns to Wales BBC Wales - 15 October 2007

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