Mezzo-Soprano star Katherine Jenkins, is returning to South African stages for three performances in August. The beautiful Welsh singing star enjoyed phenomenal sell-out success with her previous SA tour.
In the past few weeks Katherine took America by storm as a celebrity guest on favourite Reality TV show, ‘Dancing with the Stars’, where she progressed all the way to the finals, ultimately emerging as runner-up. She was recently interviewed by prime time television celebrity talk show hosts, Piers Morgan and Jay Leno and was honoured to sing the National Anthem for the Queen at The Derby to launch the recent Royal Diamond Jubilee celebrations in London - reaching out to a global television audience.
Katherine Jenkins will be performing in Johannesburg at Carnival City’s Big Top Arena on Saturday 11 August and in Cape Town at the Grand Arena Grand West on Friday 17 August.
Best known for her unique interpretations of popular songs, operatic arias and hymns, Katherine Jenkins, at the age of only 31, is one of the world’s most important classical crossover artists. The beautiful singer, from the tiny village of Neath in the Welsh Valleys, released eight studio albums, with sales exceeding seven million units. She has won numerous BRIT Awards and platinum albums, and signed the biggest-ever classical record deal when she was only 23 years old.
To add to her list of achievements, she has performed with Placido Domingo, had lunch with the Queen and sung ‘Happy Birthday’ to Barbra Streisand. Katherine is further recognised for her work with the British Forces Foundation of which she is a trustee, and she is now known as the ‘Forces Sweetheart’.
Katherine’s appearances on prime-time TV have all helped change the perception of classical music and expand the audience for the crossover style pioneered by Katherine over the last few years. South Africa is no exception to this trend which is evidenced by her growth in popularity and record sales in this country.
In the two years since Katherine released Believe, she has performed around the globe, turned 30, made her acting debut in Dr Who and become a mentor and judge on Popstar To Operastar.
No wonder she calls her new album Daydream.
Life has changed in so many ways since the young Welsh mezzo-soprano started singing her way into our people's hearts.
Yet one thing remains constant – her voice
Not that it's entirely unchanged. “I think I've learned some different colours in my voice – probably the more intimate colours – through working with David Foster, my producer,” says Katherine.
“I've been trying to find that softer tone, and at the same time I think my 'bigger' voice is maturing with age. The lower part of my voice is definitely becoming deeper and there are quite a few richer notes on this album.”
Recorded in London and Los Angeles, Daydream captures the ever-evolving range of Katherine's remarkable voice on songs from all ends of the musical spectrum – classical, choral, traditional, musical theatre and pop.
“I am made up of so many different types of music myself,” explains Katherine. “My classical roots are still there. Then there's my upbringing, learning to sing in church. And I have really developed a love of folk songs.”
Daydream features two Welsh hymns, Blaenwern and Hyfrodol, that the one-time Welsh Choirgirl of the Year first sang as a seven-year-old child in her church in Neath, backed here by the Crouch End Festival Chorus – old pals of KJ's from her years living in north London.
And, in something of a departure, there are two traditional Irish and Scottish songs, Carrickfergus and Black Is The Colour (Of My True Love's Hair) that tap into her Celtic heritage and growing fondness for folk music.
There are also a pair of musical theatre favourites, including a favourite from Les Mis sung in its original French; a pair of pop songs produced by Grammy-winning writer-producer John Shanks; and a poignant eulogy for fallen servicemen, A Flower Tells A Story, that Katherine will premiere at the Festival of Remembrance in November.
“When I made my last album, Believe, I was still in my 20s, and I feel like there has been a big shift since then,” says Katherine. “My performance has come on through two years traveling the world, and I was desperate to get back in the studio after so long.
I wanted Daydream to be very natural, very intimate album. I want people to put it on and let it take you to that place where you can just think - or not think - and just relax into it.”
Since moving to Warner Music three years ago, Katherine has spread her brand of classical crossover music around the world.
“I've lost my luggage in more airports than I can remember,” she laughs. “There were far too many times when I arrived somewhere new and had to live in the clothes I was wearing. I've learned from the experience - now I always travel with spare underwear and a toothbrush!”
Katherine has also reached a whole new audience in the UK, including many younger fans coming on board for the first time, thanks to her appearances as a mentor in two series of ITV's Popstar To Operastar.
Then there was that memorable role as Abigail Pettigrew in last winter's Dr Who Christmas Special. “That has completely changed things,” she admits. “I started getting kids in the street, who probably were not aware of me as a singer, pointing and saying: 'There's that girl off Dr Who.'”
It was, she says, a baptism of fire for a singer with no previous acting experience. “When I read the script I was not sure I could do it, even though I desperately wanted to. But when I saw that Abigail's singing saved the world I thought that was just brilliant – something to tell my grandchildren about one day.”
That, together with Katherine's appearances on prime-time TV hits like The X Factor, Strictly Come Dancing and The Apprentice, has all helped change the perception of classical music and expand the audience for the crossover style pioneered by Katherine since her debut in 2004.
“The audience for classical music has changed enormously in the last five years,” she says. “At the start of my career classical music was mostly for an older, posher audience, but I was never part of that. I get so annoyed with the purists who think the music is only for them.
“At my concerts I see everyone from small children going to their first concert with their parents right through to people celebrating their 90th birthdays.”
Katherine adds: “I think I am just one of a wide range of people making classical music accessible" – everyone from Andrea Bocelli and Andre Rieu to the Three Tenors and Il Divo. Even shows like The X Factor nearly always feature a classical tune or a show tune, so people don't feel so intimidated by it.
“I also think that people have a growing hunger for real music. You can see that in the success of someone like Adele, who I think is brilliant – she really has that voice.”
So, of course, does Katherine Jenkins. And never more so than on the haunting Abigail's Song from last year's Dr Who Christmas Special – included as a bonus track on Daydream - when Katherine, appropriately, sang to save the world. It goes without saying that it worked.