This page last modified:
January 22, 2016 at 11:09 am
If you're one of the many listeners who regularly tune in on a Friday morning to hear Rex Williams' cheerful voice and lively Daybreak programs, you may be able to take a good guess at his life-long passions. All things Welsh, opera, choral singing, British music, the Navy and family life are some of them.
His mother's veto prevented young Rex from applying to become a Naval Officer Cadet Midshipman at the age of 13. But he has steadfastly maintained his interest in the Navy, is very knowledgeable about it and has for the past 11 years been President of the Naval Historical Society of Victoria.
Rex's radio career started at commercial station 3YB Warnambool, where he spent three years as a cadet and then a professional announcer. He brought his skills to 3MBS when he joined us in 1991, to make classical music broadcasting one of his many creative outlets.
As a young man, Rex trained at the National Opera School where his training was targeted to prepare him for Buffo tenor roles - i.e. as an actor-singer with a comic bent. Among his mentors was the singer he most admires, the great Donald Smith. After four years, Harold Badger, the director of the school, said Rex was ready to audition for Opera Australia. Being accepted would have meant moving his family to Sydney and embarking on a life involving the insecurity associated with the theatre. Rex decided , instead, to make sure of providing well for his young family by combining a career in sales management at a Victorian/Tasmanian and then at a national level with a position as a permanent member of the Victoria State Opera Chorus. He also sang with the Opera Australia Chorus from time to time. One highlight in his eight happy years as an operatic chorister was sharing the stage with Donald Smith who had to fall into Rex's arms each night in a run of The Force of Destiny.
But what about Wales? In 1981, Rex visited Wales and heard the Cardiff Male Voice Choir sing. He knew this was somewhere he belonged, especially when he realised how true it is that the Welsh really love to sing, and will do so at any social gathering or in the pub after the show with as much passion as on the stage. Rex has been a member of three of Melbourne's Welsh choirs over the years. He toured Wales with one of them in 1984, ending up singing in the 1000-voice Choir in the Albert Hall. He has made wonderful friends in Wales, including those with whom he was billeted on that tour. 3MBS benefitted, too, when Rex presented choral program From the Valleys which morphed into Music from the British Isles.
Since 2009 Rex has been presenting Daybreak. Three alarm clocks are set on Thursday evenings chez Williams, to make sure he is always here for you.
Rex is a great family man, devoted to his darling and always supportive wife, Jenny, his son and daughter and his 5 grand-children.