An X Factor contestant who has written songs for Atomic Kitten and backed legendary US rock royalty Steely Dan will be entertaining the audience at a Llandudno school’s graduation day this month.
Steve McElroy is the IT Director at Ysgol John Bright but the gifted pianist from Prestatyn is also a talented musician who has been playing professionally for 15 years and reached the final stages of Simon Cowell’s Saturday night blockbuster X Factor.
Steve, 35, will be playing the piano when the school honours its successful students at Llandudno’s Venue Cymru on Wednesday, June 19, when the guest of honour will be world champion inline skater Jenna Downing.
She will be speaking about her career and presenting students with their Records of Achievement and Steve will be providing musical accompaniment along with singer Kirsty Jones, a former pupil and a drama graduate who spent two years working with Disney Cruises in the Caribbean.
The 35-year-old combines his day job with his passion for music, playing several gigs a week with his drummer brother Lewis and the pair were together on X Factor.
Steve said: “We were in X Factor in 2016 and it was a brilliant experience. We called ourselves Xell and we didn’t apply but someone from the show saw us in the Indigo Theatre at the O2 Arena and they phoned us up.
“We went down to London for the auditions and we got through and we were shown on TV.
“We got through the auditions where I was really surprised to find that there were a lot of people who have never gigged before.
“It is very much a TV show and not really for musicians but it’s great, very professionally done, and it gives you lots of exposure.
“We went through to Boot Camp in a big hotel somewhere near London and we had to pick a group of people to work with and pick a song and we just couldn’t wait to actually perform because we gig all the time.
“Simon Cowell, was there and Louis Walsh as well as Ollie Murs, Rochelle, from The Saturdays, Rita Ora, Nick Grimshaw and Cheryl Cole and they were very good with us all.
“It was a brilliant experience. As a musician I’m not massively into X Factor but it’s very well done and because you’ve been on it people want to book you for gigs.”
Steve and Lewis were actually on stage when their X Factor appearance was broadcast: “We had our mobile phones with us and they just started going mad while we were playing,” said Steve: “It was amazing but we realised what it was for
“We ran off stage at the interval and watched it on my phone and the Monday after I was in school and the kids were all full of it.”
Steve’s musical career goes back much further to the 1990s when he had piano lessons and it took off from there with Lewis on drums and their other brother, Chris, on guitar.
They were even signed by Universal Records who flew them over to New York for a performance where they went on stage before Steely Dan and Steve said: “Me and my brothers have gigged since we were little kids.
“I wanted to be a drummer but my music teacher in school said I was too clever and should be a piano player and my parents asked a guy who was playing some old classics in a pub if he’d give me lessons and he would come round and teach me different songs.
“Since then there have been lots of gigs and lots of managers and we’ve played as a trio and Lewis and I as a dup and we’ve got together again recently and started gigging again.
“We play a lot in North Wales but also across the North West and we were recently playing in Edinburgh.
“We’ve written lots of songs and some of them have been for other people. We wrote one for Atomic Kitten and another for Ash who were big in the 1990s.”
Kirsty, who attended Ysgol John Bright which has a well-deserved reputation for its performance arts, did a degree at the University of Cumbria, teaches Music and Drama at the school and is also a seasoned performer at 26.
She said: “I was in every show when I was here at the school and then after I graduated from university I went to work for Disney Cruise Lines for two years.
“I love musical theatre and I have just sung with the West End star Kerry Ellis after winning a singing lesson with her.
“She’s my idol and she has asked me to sing a song on her UK tour next year.”