Brett was born on the 23rd of August 1978 in Nottingham and raised by his grandparents Marianne and Alwyn, He still lives and works from the very same house to this day. His grandfather owned an Elka 707 Organ and the house was always full of music, so it is little wonder that at a very young age Brett displayed a keen interest in music, singing all the popular songs of the day.
Alwyn returned home from work one day to discover his young grandson playing the organ with his left hand, and keeping time to the rhythm unit. Alwyn asked if he could do the same with his right hand? The response was astounding - unruffled by the request, he did as asked, but with both hands at once. Brett was only three at the time and Alwyn realised his grandson might be talented. Marianne and Alwyn continued to encourage Brett to play as a hobby. Brett’s ability to listen to songs and then sing them with uncanny accuracy was to manifest itself yet again. He began playing by ear the music he heard, not just the melody, but accompaniment as well.
This uncanny accuracy and ability to hear and then play sections and phrases, separate parts of a complete score, has stayed with Brett to this day - the Blue Danube played by him today being testament to the fact.
Meanwhile, Alwyn had discovered an organ product new to him, the Wersi. They sold a range of organs in kit form that could be home built. We are not talking about putting set pieces together here; this was serious stuff, right down to soldering individual resistors and component parts on to circuit boards! Alwyn knew Brett needed a more complete ‘orchestral type organ’ and decided to rise to the challenge and built himself the Wersi Helios. Once complete it wasn’t long before Brett had mastered the new sounds and rhythms on this amazing instrument. His grandparents felt this obvious natural talent should not be wasted and sought private lessons from a local music teacher, who said it was rare to find in one so young the patience to sit, listen and learn all that was being taught. Brett’s enthusiasm and dedication to music, so much a hallmark of the man today, found him being described as a ‘Boy Genius’ when later he was to meet with Wersi Stars, Klaus Wunderlich and Franz Lambert.
In April 1986 Ron Franklin (formally W.E.S.) organised a five day trip to the Wersi headquarters in Halsenbach Germany, a visit to where Wersi organs are still produced today. As reward for his improvement and dedication to musical studies, Brett’s grandparent’s decided to take Brett on the visit.
They had the pleasure of seeing some of the greatest players & musical talents in the world including Mark Whale, Hady Wolf, Curt Prina and of course the master himself Klaus Wunderlich where Brett had the unusual privilege of shaking his hand.
One of the highlights of the visit for Brett was the Saturday evening spent in the legendary Franz Lambert’s Felsenkeller. Brett stood at the side of Franz’s organ, transfixed and mesmerised, watching and learning more than most people realised. It was then Brett decided his ambition was to be the same one day as Franz Lambert, a famous organist.
Back home the practice and tutorial sessions continued apace. There was a noticeable change, though, in Brett's music; he began to repeat all that he had heard at the Felsenkeller. Encouraged by the effect the visit had on Brett, Marianne, Alwyn and Brett made the same trip the following year but, unfortunately, Franz was unable to play for them. Instead, they went for the evening to a Bier Keller in Koblenz, where organist Udo Kemp was performing. Having heard Brett play previously, Udo asked if Brett would play for the people to dance. Amazingly, without a trace of nerves and oblivious to his audience, he proceeded to play music from his examinations. He also cheekily played a Franz Lambert Felsenkeller medley just as if he was at home playing to himself. Was this the first sign we saw of the humourist we have on stage today? The reaction from the audience - a standing ovation - was to be the first of many in Brett's career to date. A star was born – proud Grandparents, and Udo had a major problem getting Brett to leave the organ!
1989 was to be a memorable year for Brett and his family; they made the same trip as the two previous years, but this time they went, once again, to see Franz live at the Felsenkeller. This time, however, after hearing of Brett’s achievements at Koblenz, Franz requested Brett to play for him and his audience. One of the pieces Brett chose to play for Franz was one that Franz himself plays, “Everybody Loves Somebody Sometimes” with that Franz took the microphone and said “Brett we must play together”. The crowd stood around the organ amazed that this nine year old played seemingly without a care in the world. You can imagine it brought the house down and, later, Franz was to remark on Brett’s composure. That a professional musician, the stature of Franz Lambert, should take time out to encourage a young boy speaks volumes not just of Franz Lambert’s generosity, but his obvious recognition of an artistic and musical talent. Franz’s music is an influence on Brett’s style, particularly Brett’s late night spots, which have a definite Franz Lambert Felsenkeller ring to them! Yes, I think we can safely say that one of Brett’s idols is Franz Lambert!
The annual trip to Germany in 1989 brought yet another duet between Brett and his idol Franz, this time playing “Strangers in the Night”. On the Sunday evening they attended another fantastic concert, by the ever impressive Mark Whale. Mark is often thought to be Brett’s older brother. Reinhardt Franz, one of the co-owners of Wersi GmbH, asked Brett if he would like to play during Mark’s concert in the auditorium at the Wersi headquarters. As always, Brett needed no second bidding to sit down and play, and gave a composed and professional performance. After the concert Brett was promised by Reinhardt and his brother W. E. Franz that in the following year he could have his own concert, which inspired Brett, then 11 yrs old, to prepare for 1990.
Even though Brett wasn’t yet twelve years old he started doing various demonstrations for Wersi in the U.K. constantly demonstrating the top of the range Wersi Spectra organs of the time. It was getting hard for Brett to work on new material for demonstrating the Spectra when he could still only practise on his grandfather's Helios. Practising and preparing for demonstrations on one type of organ, and playing in public on another style of organ is not good. The nearest place he could get to play a Spectra was at Barnsley, the then northern Wersi dealership, too far for a young man who also had to attend school like any normal child, so Marianne and Alwyn decided to sell the Helios and get Brett his very own Spectra for his twelfth birthday. A special gift, from special people, for a very special young man.
The many demonstrations around this time hold memories of good times, such as demonstrating at Stapley Water Gardens where he made two very good friends, organist Volkre Kruche & ten times world accordion champion Guy Dennis, both were kind, helpful and also enjoyed playing as a trio with Brett.
Naturally there came a time when like all other young players Brett had to limit the amount of travelling, due to both his school work & musical examination’s as more time was dedicated to his grades. When he turned fifteen Brett was accepted for Clarendon College in Nottingham to study music although he had already learnt most of the course in his previous years with private tutors. It was the ‘Academy of Life’, the experience gained by playing with other musicians and bands around Nottingham that was to become so very valuable later on in Brett’s career. Orchestrations, arrangements, stage presence and professionalism were to turn musician into performer – into star.
Brett will admit to being a lucky sort of person, and, as luck would have it, at a time just right, Brett met up again with an old friend from his Germany trips, the one and only Ken Davies, who - as luck would have it - was heavily involved in running Wersi – England. Brett was invited to appear at the long running Barton Hall Festival. Listening to Brett play and seeing him use the Spectra to it’s full potential, Ken decided to use Brett as his main demonstrator and concert artiste. A step in Brett’s career that was to give him the opportunity to appear at what was then all of the major organ festivals in England.
Ken's friendship grew to become a special bond. Brett referred to him as “King Kenny” and even though the ‘King’ eventually stopped running Wersi in England, his role as Brett’s sound engineer and musical adviser continued until Spring of this year (2003) when, sadly, he lost his short battle against cancer. He was to Brett the solid foundation a double bass is to a band, helping to drive, develop and nurture the special talents of Brett Wales. It appears that the early years of hard work and studying are now paying off.<> Brett’s charisma stems from his ability to feel and display emotion through his music. It affects many in the audience, bonding the artiste with his audience. Others are simply charmed by his pleasant, open, gentle nature that turns people into friends.
Brett’s grandfather passed away on the 14th of March 2001 after a long battle with Alzheimer's Disease. Sadly, he never saw his great granddaughter's, Bethany,Sophie, Isabella & Alexia and he never got to hear his grandson playing the new instrument, didn’t get to witness the standing ovation Brett received in Concert at Ludlow. The audience did not know that the Blue Danube, played that night in public for the first time and dedicated by Brett to his grandfather, was in fact dedicated to his grandfather's memory. Brett had been advised by mobile 'phone only a few hours earlier, whilst on his way to that concert, that Alwyn had slipped away. Truly the professional, and a man his grandfather would have been proud of that night – the performance was what we have come to expect from Brett, polished to perfection and showing no sign of the turmoil that must have raged within. Brett likes to think that whilst Alwyn, who didn’t witness his grandson's impact on the organ scene, is now looking down on him and realising that what he saw in his young grandson when he came home from work that day in 1981 is now being recognised twenty years later by audiences everywhere.
Today Brett is constantly in demand and playing to packed out venues all over the country. With bookings going into the year 2021 we are happily assured of good music for the foreseeable future.
Brett will also be featured at the following festivals this year.
|Concerts in 2020|
|January 8th||World of Music (formally North East Derbyshire Organ Society)|
|January 9th||Sleaford Organ Club|
|February 3rd||Nottingham Organ Society|
|February 19th||Charnwood Music For All|
|March 2nd||Association of Organ Enthusiasts (AOE) (more details)|
Evening Concert, Mercure Bewdley The Heath Hotel
|March 3rd||Bexley Music Club|
|March 11th||Horsham MelodyTimes Concerts|
|March 15th||Aldermaston Concert Centre|
|March 19th||Sussex Keyboard and Organ Club|
|March 26th||Gainsborough Organ and Keyboard Club|
|April 30th||Stockport Organ & Keyboard Club (more details)|
|May 7th||Scunthorpe Organ Society|
|May 13th||Sutton in Ashfield Electronic Organ Society|
|May 13th||Sutton in Ashfield Electronic Organ Society (more details)|
|May 28th||Chopgate Village Hall|
|June 10th||Hailsham Organ Club|
|June 16th||Bedworth Organ Society|
|June 20th||Belper & District Organ & Keyboard Club|
|June 26th||South Molton Organ and Keyboard Club|
|July 5th||Stilton In Tune - Keyboard Showtime|
|July 27th||Leyland In Tune|
|August 7th||Briston Organ Shows|
|August 18th||Bournemouth Electronic Organ Society|
|September 29th||Orpington Keyboard Club|
|October 20th||Woodhall Spa and District Organ Society|
|October 21st||Bourne Organ and keyboard Club|
|November 9th||Felixstowe Electronic Organ Club|
|November 12th||York Electronic Organ & Keyboard Society|
|November 17th||Bideford Keyboard and Organ Club|
|November 18th||Plymouth Broadway Organ & Keyboard Club (more details)|
|November 20th||Cookhill Keyboard Club|
|November 24th||Launceston Electronic Organ Club|
|November 25th||Verwood in Tune|
|December 2nd||North Herts Organ Society|
|December 4th||Colchester Keyboard Concerts|
|December 7th||New Forest Organ Society|
|December 9th||East London and Essex Electronic Keyboard Club|
|December 14th||Derby Organ and Keyboard Club|
|Concerts in 2021|
|March 3rd||Grimsby Keyboard & Electronic Organ Club|
|May 9th||Scarborough Electronic Organ Society (more details)|
In conjunction with Scarborough Fair Collection
|May 25th||Norwich Electronic Organ and Keyboard Club|
|July 30th||South Molton Organ and Keyboard Club|
|August 11th||Clacton Keyboard Music Club (Formerly Clacton & District Organ Society)|
|November 10th||East London and Essex Electronic Keyboard Club|