Bon voyage to Abu Dhabi, strictly classical Katherine Jenkins!
As one of Wales's most recognisable exports, Katherine Jenkins has to walk a careful tightrope between two very different worlds...
That of a tabloid sweetheart, constantly under the microscope, and that of a classical musician in a conservative world. Her movie-star blonde-bombshell looks have also meant she’s had many offers to launch a pop career that would doubtless hit the high notes.
So you have to admire her commitment to her chosen genre, which stems from her lifelong love of classical music.
“I’m always being asked [to try pop music], though it’s not something that interests me. I feel like I trained hard to be able to do what I do, and it’s what I’m passionate about singing. I also happen to think I’m rubbish at karaoke so I think I should leave the pop album to the pop stars,” she tells 7DAYS ahead of her Yas Island performance tomorrow night.
She’s trained hard ever since growing up in the town of Neath in the Welsh Valleys, becoming a member of the Royal School of Church Music Cathedral Singers at 11 years old and passing the St Cecilia Award - the highest honour they bestow on choristers. Countless awards later and Jenkins is now the biggest-selling mezzo-soprano in the world. She’s thankful for the support she’s received along the way and hopes to inspire talented young singers to stick to it.
“I think you should always do what makes you happy. I was lucky in school that while classical music wasn’t seen as cool, and I could have been a target of bullying, the other students in school seemed to accept that it was what I did and let me get on with it. Ultimately, I think you should go for what makes you happy in life and not do things to please other people.”
Still in her early thirties, Jenkins’ professional music career is almost a decade old - her debut album ‘Premiere’ came out in 2004. She looks back at the her discography with fascination, particularly at the evolution of her singing ability.
“The voice doesn’t mature until around the age of 30, so it’s been amazing to be able to document my voice with every album. I listen to the first album now and I can hear such a change, and that’s exciting. I think as I’ve got older I’ve become more experimental and willing to try new things in the studio,” said the 33-year-old.
It’s also humbling to know that even having sold millions of albums, she still takes singing lessons.
“I think I can still learn things about singing when I’m 80 years old! Going to your singing teacher is like taking your car for an MOT [a UK car safety test]. It’s to make sure you’re not getting into bad habits and are properly looking after your voice.”
Having worked with Plácido Domingo, Andrea Bocelli and many other classical icons, Jenkins regrets missing the chance to work with the most famous member of the ‘Three Tenors’. “I was due to sing for the Luciano Pavarotti, but it was around the time he got sick. Having sung with José and Plácido, it would have been a dream to complete the trio.”
Jenkins is bubbly, and you’d forgive the average gal for envying her just a little. But don’t worry - she has also has the odd off day.
“Of course I have down days, when I’m tired or away from my family. I’ll usually give my mum a call - she’s very good at cheering me up - or I’ll go for a run or remind myself how lucky I am to be in this position.”
By Jillian Pletts