Will Young born 20 January 1979
William Robert Young is an English singer and actor. He catapulted to fame in 2002 after winning the inaugural UK Pop Idol contest. He has continued to work in music, and also as an actor.
Young was born in Reading/Wokingham, Berkshire, with a non-identical twin, Rupert. He was educated at Horris Hill preparatory school and Wellington College.
He then attended the University of Exeter where he read Politics. In September 2001, he became a student at The Arts Educational Schools in Chiswick, London, starting a three-year course in musical theatre with a scholarship.
In February 2002 Young came to national prominence by winning the ITV television programme contest Pop Idol.
Contrary to popular belief, Will did not come from behind to win the contest. After having beaten the widely-accepted frontrunner Gareth Gates in the final show, it emerged that he had in fact gained the most votes in six out of the nine weeks of the live show.
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 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 in the official list of the all-time best-selling singles in the UK issued later that year it was 11th. On 31 December 2009, Radio 1 confirmed that Anything Is Possible/Evergreen was the biggest selling single of the 2000s decade in the United Kingdom.
Young subsequently revealed that he was gay, in order to pre-empt a tabloid newspaper that was preparing to run a story 'outing' him. He also stated that he had never hidden, and was comfortable with, his sexuality.
He went on to win the Brits' Best Breakthrough Act award, and a plethora of other awards.
Taken from his second album, Friday's Child was first the hugely successful Ivor Novello award-winning single Leave Right Now. This second album is often deemed to be Young's most successful, selling over 1.6 million copies (5x platinum) and containing several tracks co-written by him, the album received a great many accolades and much critical acclaim.
His second Brit, in February 2005, was awarded for the single Your Game. Following sell-out theatre and arena tours in 2004, he toured again at outside festival venues in summer 2005. On July 6, 2005, he performed at Edinburgh 50,000 - The Final Push, the final concert of Live 8, where he performed a duet with James Brown singing Papa's Got A Brand New Bag.
Later in the year, Young met comedian David Walliams and the pair became good friends, with Young appearing at the Little Britain live stage show in Manchester, and later recording a podcast with Walliams, in which they chatted about various aspects of Young's career.
His third album, Keep On, was released in November 2005 together with the first single from the same, Switch It On. He released a second single in the form of All Time Love and a third single Who Am I.
In May 2006, Young was voted the UK's favourite artist 'ever' in a poll conducted by commercial radio, beating the likes of Robbie Williams, Paul McCartney and the Spice Girls.
Also in 2006, he sang Who Am I, Leave Right Now and Love the One You're With at the Prince's Trust 30th Birthday. In the autumm of 2006 he undertook a sell-out stadium tour of the UK, Ireland and South Africa, and also appeared at G-A-Y in London. During November Will performed in South Africa for Nelson Mandela's Unite of the Stars charity concerts.
Will added acting to his repertoire when he accepted a role in the BBC film Mrs Henderson Presents, starring Judi Dench and Bob Hoskins. 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.
Young made his serious stage acting debut proper in the Royal Exchange Theatre's production of The Vortex by Noel Coward from January to March 2007 and Young played the leading role of Nicky Lancaster, to a reasonable critical response.
In July 2007, he appeared at the Concert for Diana at the new Wembley Stadium. He sang Switch It On but the concert was running late and his performance of his hit song Leave Right Now had to be cut. He has also recently narrated an audio version of the Roald Dahl novel, Danny, the Champion of the World.
On Sunday 23 September 2007, Young performed at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club with the Vanguard Jazz Band to an audience of about 300 people who received him with rapturous applause, where he performed a set of mostly jazz standards.
Young took part in the Little Noise Sessions, a series of intimate, acoustic gigs for the learning disability charity, Mencap in November 2007 with special guests at Islington's Union Chapel, which is acclaimed for its ambience and acoustics. It was an intimate gig as the venue only holds 600.
In 2008 Will Young released his fourth album Let It Go, and toured the UK, culminating with an appearance at Elton John's Live New Year show at the O2 Arena in London, where they duetted on Daniel. He appeared on the popular BBC current affairs panel discussion Question Time in early 2009, having already spoken at the Oxford Union.
In late 2009 Will Young released a greatest hits album. Whether this represents a major shift of direction in his career is still unclear, although he appears to be increasingly diversifying into acting.
Will Young actively promotes various charities and issues, including Oxfam, Women's Aid, Mencap and the Prince's Trust.
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