Elin Manahan Thomas was born in Gorseinon and educated at Ysgol Gyfun Gwyr School. She first took singing lessons as a six-year-old and her singing teacher - who had taught the world famous tenor Dennis O'Neill when he was a little boy soprano - remarked that she could, in due course, become a professional singer.
As a young teenager she joined the Swansea Bach Choir. There she mastered the skill of reading a music score. She won a choral scholarship to Clare College in Cambridge where she gained a first class honours degree in Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic. She went on to complete an MPhil, and in 2001, pursued postgraduate vocal studies at the Royal College of Music in London.
She was invited to join the crack Monteverdi Choir, under Sir John Eliot Gardiner, and at the age of 21 was the youngest ever member of the Choir.
Immediately after she had joined, the Choir embarked on its year-long tour of the great European Cathedrals. The event, that featured performances of all the religious cantatas of Bach, was one of the UK's prestigious cultural projects to celebrate the millennium.
A few years later, she was invited by Sir John Eliot Gardiner to be the first soloist to record a recently discovered piece by Bach, Alles mit Gott which had not been performed since the early 18th century, making the recording one of historic importance.
She first received great acclaim for her “Pie Jesu” on NAXOS' award-winning recording of the Rutter Requiem and she dazzled an audience of more than a billion viewers worldwide with a performance of Handel's ‘Eternal Source of Light Divine’ at the London Paralympics Opening Ceremony in 2012. She gave the World Premier of Sir John Tavener’s Requiem in Liverpool Cathedral and she has received prestigious invitations to perform all over the world.
Elin Manahan Thomas is not only a world-acclaimed soprano, she is much in demand as a presenter and broadcaster, both in English and Welsh, for which she has been twice nominated for a BAFTA.
In 2013, Swansea University presented Ms Thomas with an Honorary Degree. On receiving the award, she said: “I'm absolutely delighted to be receiving this Honorary Award and am amazed and humbled by it. As a Swansea girl, born and bred, whose parents both studied at the University, and whose father has been professor here for many years, I feel a deep attachment to the University.
“As a child I spent many days playing on the campus, visiting the bookshop and library, and especially going to events in the Taliesin, and to be made to feel like I'm a real part of all that is tremendously exciting. I'm looking forward to working with the University in the coming years and to establishing a close connection with both staff and students. It really feels like coming home!”