THE first time Nicholas Jones got the courage to sing on stage he forgot the words to the national anthem.
Yesterday, the 26-year-old took out the aria award at the Warrnambool eisteddfod.
The inner-city barista was one of six classically trained competitors who sung during the two-hour event.
“The first thing I auditioned for was a musical in primary school and it was an absolute disaster — I didn’t know any songs so I tried singing the national anthem and forgot the words,” Jones said.
“From that point on I tried to get into choirs when I could and people just said: ‘hey you’ve got a pretty good voice, you should keep doing this’.”
That took him to the Victorian College of the Arts where he spent five years learning and training. Yesterday, he picked acts from Verdi’s La Traviata and Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin.
It wasn’t the first time Jones had been to Warrnambool. He’s previously set foot on the south-west stage alongside OzOpera for the Barber of Seville.
On July 19, he’ll play the role of Tomino in Mozart’s The Magic Flute being performed at the Lighthouse Theatre.
Good sleep, square meals, water and “trying not to hang out at too many loud pubs” are the basic tips to keeping his vocal chords in shape.
“The tip is staying healthy in any respect. When you’re healthy your voice is healthy and your body is your instrument,” he said. “You try to avoid wear and tear like any muscle.”
Warrnambool Eisteddfod vice-president Bruce Pritchard said the $3500 cash prize continued to bring in competitors from afar.
The event is now in its 37th year.
“He (Jones) was very good. A lot of people selected him as the winner so it wasn’t very suprising when he won,” Mr Pritchard said.
For now Jones’ dream is humble but still ambitious.
“Some people want to be a superstar. That’s not really my sort of thing. I’d just love to be to work, travel the world and sing. Make a living really,” he said.