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William Robert "Will" Young (born 20 January 1979) is a British singer-songwriter and actor. He rose to fame in 2002 after winning the inaugural Pop Idol contest (February 2002), making him the first winner of the now-worldwide Idols-format franchise. He has won multiple awards.

Early life

Young was born in Wokinghammarker, Berkshire, with a fraternal twin . He also has an elder sister. He was educated at Horris Hill preparatory schoolmarker and Wellington Collegemarker. He also studied at D'Overbroeck's Collegemarker, Oxford.

Young read Politics at the University of Exetermarker and graduated with a 2:2 honours degree. At university, some of his haunts included Timepiece, The Old Firehouse, and Harry's, where he used to work . In September 2001, he became a student at the Arts Educational Schoolsmarker in Chiswickmarker, Londonmarker, starting a three-year course in musical theatre with a scholarship.


Pop Idol

In February 2002, Young came to national prominence by winning the ITV television programme contest Pop Idol. Contrary to press claims of being the underdog, after having beaten the widely accepted front-runner Gareth Gates in the final show, it emerged that Young had in fact gained the most votes in six out of the nine rounds of public voting. This was published in the Pop Idol book, which was released shortly after the programme.

The songs Young sang on the show were:
Week Theme Song performed Artist
Audition Idol's Choice "Blame It on the Boogie" The Jacksons
London Rounds Day 1 - Part 1 "Up on the Roof" The Drifters
London Rounds Day 1 - Part 2 "All or Nothing" O-Town
London Rounds Day 2 "Fastlove" George Michael
Top 50 Semi Finals "Light My Fire" The Doors/Jose Feliciano
Top 10 Inspiring Artists "Until You Come Back to Me" Aretha Franklin
Top 9 Christmas Songs "Winter Wonderland"
Top 8 Burt Bacharach Music "Wives and Lovers" Jack Jones
Top 7 Movie Hits "Ain't No Sunshine" - "Days of Wine and Roses" Bill Withers
Top 6 Songs of ABBA "The Name of the Game" ABBA
Top 5 Big Band "We Are in Love" Harry Connick, Jr.
Top 4 No. 1 Hits "Night Fever"
"There Must Be an Angel "
Bee Gees
The Eurythmics
Top 3 Judges' Choice "Beyond the Sea"
"I Get the Sweetest Feeling"
Bobby Darin
Jackie Wilson
Top 2 Idol Single A Side
Idol's Favorite
Idol Single AA Side

"Anything is Possible"
"Light My Fire"

Will Young
The Doors/Jose Feliciano

Post-Idol career


Young's first single was a double A-side featuring Westlife's song "Evergreen" and "Anything Is Possible", a new song written for the winner of the show by Chris Braide and Cathy Dennis. In March 2002, this became the fastest-selling debut in UK chart history, selling 403,027 copies on its day of release (1,108,659 copies in its first week). It went on to sell over 1.7 million copies, and on the official list of the all-time best-selling singles in the UK issued later that year, it was ranked eleventh. In 2008, Official Charts Company released the Top 40 Biggest Selling Singles of the 21st Century (so far) in which Will's version of Evergreen topped the chart. "Anything Is Possible" won an Ivor Novello Award for Best Song Musically and Lyrically.

In October 2002, Young released his debut album, From Now On, which included "Evergreen" nominated in the Best single category in 2003 at the BRIT Awards and "Anything Is Possible". It produced three singles: "Light My Fire", "The Long and Winding Road" (a duet with Gareth Gates, released as a double A-side with Gates's song "Suspicious Minds") and "Don't Let Me Down"/"You and I" (released in aid of Children in Need). He won his first BRIT Award in February 2003 as Best Breakthrough Artist.

Young's second album, Friday's Child, was released in December 2003. It features the singles "Leave Right Now", nominated in the Best British single category of the past 25 years at the 2005 BRIT Awards "Your Game" (which won Young his second BRIT Award in 2005) and "Friday's Child" In November 2005, Young released his third album, Keep On, which included the single "All Time Love", nominated in the Best British Single category at the 2007 BRIT Awards. Other singles from the album were "Switch It On" and "Who Am I".

Young has been nominated for Ten BRIT Awards [4 x Best British Male - 4 X Best British single - Best pop Act- Best Breakthrough] . In May 2006, he was voted the UK's favourite artist ever in a poll conducted by commercial radio. In May 2007, he was voted the UK's favourite artist of all time for the second consecutive year.

On 29 September 2008, Young's fourth album, Let It Go , was released it peaked at #2, preceded by the single "Changes" on 15 September it peaked at #10. His next single "Grace" was released on 1 December 2008, and peaked at #33 on the UK Singles Chart. Will's third single taken from the album will be "Let It Go", was released on 2 March 2009 in the UKmarker, and peaked at #58 on the UK Singles Chart. The fourth and final single was "Tell Me the Worst", and was released on July 5, 2009 only in the UKmarker. It served as a club promo, and featured some Fred Falke remixes.

On an interview with Digital Spy, he revealed that he was working on a Dance-Pop album, which might be released in late 2009. He also confirmed that he was working with Britishmarker duo Groove Armada, Superbass, who remixed his UK Top 10 single "Changes", and Gregg Alexander, who has previously worked with British pop diva Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Geri Halliwell. He also confirmed that he is working on an album covering songs from Noel Coward, which is yet on the very early stages and he "doesn't know if it will end up"..

It has been confirmed that a greatest hits collection will be released on November 16, 2009, and it will include two brand new songs.


In early 2002, Young joined his fellow Pop Idol contestants in a nationwide arena tour. The final concert at Wembley was in aid of The Prince's Trust, of which Young is an ambassador, together with Gareth Gates and Darius Danesh, the runner-up and third-placed contestant in Pop Idol. In June 2002, Young performed at the Queen's Jubilee Concert in the grounds of Buckingham Palacemarker, singing "We Are the Champions" with Queen members Brian May and Roger Taylor.

During July 2002, Young sang at two concerts with the renowned songwriter Burt Bacharach at Hammersmith Apollo and at the Liverpool Summerpops event. In August 2002, he performed at the closing ceremony of the 2002 Commonwealth Games, singing "I Get the Sweetest Feeling" in the pouring rain. He was praised by the announcer, Grandmaster Flash, who said that it was not easy entering a talent show. November 2002 brought an appearance at the Royal Command Performance. In November 2003, Young performed the wartime song "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square", accompanied by The Squadronaires, at the Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hallmarker in Londonmarker.

Following a sell-out theatre tour in 2004, Young appeared at The Olympic Torch Concert, performing a duet of "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" with soul legend James Brown. Later that year, he embarked upon his first solo arena tour, another sell-out success. He toured again at outside festival venues in mid 2005. In July 2005, he performed at Edinburgh 50,000 - The Final Push, the final concert of Live 8, a charity concert in Edinburgh to raise awareness of the plight of Africa, where he duetted with James Brown once again and also sang with One Giant Leap, Neneh Cherry and Maxi Jazz. In November 2005, Young appeared in his second Royal Command Performance.

In May 2006, he sang at The Prince's Trust 30th Birthday, which took place at the Tower of Londonmarker. From 12 September until 2 October 2006, Young toured the UK with his Keep On Live tour, which included the songs taken from his album Keep On and a selection of past songs. The official merchandise range for the tour, highlighted by the press, included a "tip and strip" pen which, when turned over, reveals Young in his underpants. In October 2006, Young sang at Nitin Sawhney's concert in the BBC Electric Proms series of concerts. He followed this by performing in South Africa for Nelson Mandela's Unite of the Stars charity concerts.

In July 2007, he appeared at the Concert for Diana at the new Wembley Stadium. Young was the headline act at the Proms in the Park, which took place in Hyde Parkmarker in September 2007 as part of the Last Night of the Proms. In September 2007, Young performed at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club with the Vanguard Big Band. Young took part in the Little Noise Sessions, a series of intimate, acoustic gigs for the learning disability charity, Mencap. He performed in November 2007 with special guests at Islington's Union Chapel.

In April 2008, Young again appeared at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club with the Vanguard Big Band. Young is to perform at various festivals during mid 2008, including Glastonburymarker, T In the Park in Scotland and Bestival on the Isle of Wightmarker.

On 24 August 2008 Young appeared at the Olympic Party which took place in The Mallmarker, Londonmarker. He performed his latest single Changes and I Can See Clearly Now, which was originally sung by Johnny Nash.

Young is also featured singing in trailers for the recording/film making group 1 Giant Leap's newest project "What About Me?"

Young was the featured singer on the X-Factor programme on ITV1 on Saturday 1 November 2008. He also mentored the remaining contestants.

Young performed in a sell-out theatre tour, commencing on 16 November 2008 and continuing until 13 December 2008 with two dates at The Roundhouse in Camden, London.

On 31 December 2008 Young was featured as a guest on Elton John's Live New Year show at the O2 Arena in London. He joined Sir Elton in the song Daniel.

Young will be performing at various festivals across the UK during the summer of 2009, starting with the Isle of Wight Festival on Saturday 13 June, including T4 On The Beach on Sunday 19 July.

Young was one of the performers at the BBC's Live at Blackpool programme on BBC Radio 2 on Saturday 5 September 2009.

Young is touring again in the UK at the end of 2009. He will take to the stage at The Waterfront, Belfast on the opening night on 9 November, finishing up at the Brighton Centre on 6 December.

Other projects

Acting career

Young added acting to his repertoire when he accepted a role in the BBC film Mrs. Henderson Presents, starring Judi Dench and Bob Hoskins, in which he played Bertie. The film was released in the UK in November 2005 to excellent reviews—not least for Young's performance as both actor and singer in the film. The scene, in which Young appears naked, postdated his "absolutely thrilled" acceptance of the British male Rear of the Year Award 2005, an accolade to add to the Most Stylish Male Music Star, Best Bod, Sexiest Star, Best Dressed and Best Hair awards he had already won.

Young trod the boards in the Royal Exchange Theatremarker's production of The Vortex by Noel Coward. This production ran from January to March 2007 and Young played the leading role of Nicky Lancaster. Critics, including the well respected and acclaimed critic Nicholas de Jonghe, thought Young played the role of Nicky just as it should have been played and he wrote, "revelatory Will finds key to Coward classic".

In October 2007 Young narrated an audio version of the Roald Dahl novel Danny, the Champion of the World.

Television documentaries

In November 2004, Young presented a documentary entitled Runaways as part of the Children in Need campaign, highlighting the problems facing distressed teens who run away from home, and the plight they were in being picked up off the streets and railway stations by pimps who offered them work and drugs. The children did not know where to go for immediate help unless they were picked up by the police and sent to a refuge centre.

During June 2007 a series of documentaries entitled Saving Planet Earth was shown on BBC Television. Young filmed an episode about saving the gorillas of West Africa during his visit to Africa earlier in the year.

In March 2009, ITV1 arts programme The South Bank Show presented an hour long fly on the wall documentary about Young that they had been filming over the course of the year as he returned to promote the Let It Go album. It showed him in Icelandmarker filming the video for the Let It Go single, backstage before his performance on The X Factor and on his UK theatre tour from November 2008 amongst other segments.

Young has been made a "Companion" of the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts.


On 27 October 2008, Young spoke on Celebrity at the Oxford Union, where he showed an interest in forming a band named 'Will Young and the Credit Crunchers'. In October 2008 he was invited to appear on Question Time after he revealed he was a fan of the show. He participated in the edition from Dunstablemarker in February 2009.


Young supports the charity Women's Aid, about which he wrote: "I am proud to put my name beside this cause, and hope that I might be able to help more people affected by the terrors of domestic violence, as well as help to create a wider awareness within our society." [38046]

Young also supports Mencap—about which he wrote, "I'm very much in this for the long term, and I'd like to help continue to break down peoples' misconceptions and prejudices"—, The Children's Society Safe and Sound Campaign, and Positive Action Southwest (PASW) [38047], for which he performed at his first solo concert, in July 2003, at Killerton Housemarker, Exetermarker.

Young has been an ambassador for The Prince's Trust since 2002, and performed at the 30th anniversary concert in the grounds of the Tower of Londonmarker.

Together with Dame Helen Mirren, Helena Bonham Carter and Martin Freeman, Young appeared in a series of advertisements during the Christmas period 2007 for Oxfam; "Oxfam Unwrapped".

Young is the ambassador for Mood Foundation, a charity which aims to build a database of private therapists and alternative therapies to treat various types of depressive conditions. It was set up by Young's twin brother Rupert Young.

Personal life

In March 2002, Young revealed that he is gay pre-empting a tabloid newspaper that was preparing to out him. He also stated that he had never hidden and was comfortable with his sexuality.


See also


  1. BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Music | Brit Awards 2003: Winners
  2. BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Music | Brits 2005: The winners
  3. Will Young - Home
  4. UK Singles Chart - Let It Go single
  5. Tell Me The Worst remixes
  6. Will Young on Digital Spy
  7. Will Young to release The Hits
  8. BBC NEWS | UK | Palace pop spectacle wows Jubilee crowds
  9. Royal Variety Performance 2002
  10. The Prince of Wales - A star studded concert celebrates 30 years of The Prince's Trust at Tower of London
  11. Tonight - Stars Unite Against Hunger live in SA
  12. BBC - Proms - Proms in the Park - London
  13. BBC - T in the Park 2008 - Will Young
  14. BBC - 6 Music -Bestival: Amy and Young
  15. BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Will Young to play Olympic party
  16. (
  20. Revelatory Will finds key to Coward classic| Theatre | This is London
  21. BBC - Press Office - BBC Children in Need 2004 Runaways
  26. Will Young, Anything Is Possible, page 229

External links

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