Story: Jack Foley
KATHERINE Jenkins would appear to be a name to watch...
She first caught the public's attention when she sang at a special
mass, honouring the Popes silver jubilee, at Westminster
Cathedral, in October 2003, and, a month later, made her international
debut at the Sydney Opera House, as a special guest on the Max
Boyce Down Under show.
This was aired on BBC Wales, on the eve of the Wales vs New
Zealand Rugby World Cup match and achieved a 40% share of viewing
But this was just the tip of the iceberg, in what proved to be
a busy 2003 for Katherine.
In October, for instance, she supported Aled Jones on his tour
- another former Welsh chorister, whom she has long admired
and she appeared as one of the special guests on the Hayley Westenra
tour, which starts in March 2004.
During the aforementioned Rugby World Cup, the 23-year-old rugby
fan was the official Welsh team mascot and recorded the Welsh
Rugby Teams Official Song, on Universal Classics, a rousing
version of Bread of Heaven, which was backed by a 100-piece
male voice choir.
"Unfortunately, I didn't bring the team any luck!"
Last August, she sang the Welsh National Anthem, Hen Wlad
Fy Nhadau, before her home crowd at the Wales vs England game
in the Millennium Stadium.
"I was so nervous the week before," she admits, "but
as I walked along the tunnel, 70,000 people were singing Delilah.
"I just felt so at home that I wasn't the slightest bit
nervous. I sang, walked off and halfway up the tunnel I turned
Not many classical singers get a recording contract immediately
leaving college, let alone a six album deal.
Katherine, however, was signed by Universal Classics on first
She has recently finished recording her first album, Premiere,
with producers, James Morgan and Juliette Pochin, which is due
The collection of songs reflects her musical influences, with
tracks including Habanera from Carmen, Ave
Maria, John Rutter's The Lord Is My Shepherd, Welsh
folk songs and some new arrangements of classic tracks.
Brought up in Neath, South Wales, by the time Katherine was seven,
her interest in pop music had been superseded by classical music.
She started taking piano lessons and joined her local church
Over the next ten years, she represented Wales on three occasions
in the Choirgirl of the Year Competition, winning the BBC Radio
2 Welsh Choirgirl of the Year Competition twice, and the BET Welsh
Choirgirl of the Year.
Between 1990 and 1996, Katherine was a loyal member of The Royal
School of Church Music Cathedral Singers, where she achieved her
St Cecilia Award - the highest award, and was also a member of
the National Youth Choir of Wales for three years.
After nine A grade GCSE's, Katherine passed four A-levels, including
Her music went from strength to strength and she achieved Grade
8 distinctions in both singing and piano.
She was awarded the Pelenna Valley Male Voice Choir Scholarship
for most promising young singer and won the 'Singer of the Year'
prize at the Gorseinon College Festival of Voice.
She was only 17 when she won a scholarship to London's Royal
Academy of Music, from which she graduated with Honours.
At the Academy, she studied Italian, German, French and Russian,
Cherubino in Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro, Dorabella
in Cosi fan Tutte and Carmen in Carmen.
After she was voted The Face of Wales by the Welsh public, she
supplemented her grant by modelling.
"My mum saw the competition in our local paper and she sent
in two pictures for fun, and I got through to the final.
"I did quite a lot of make up and hair
modelling. It was a way of earning money and supporting my studies
but I knew it wasn't ever going to supplant music."
Five years ago, Katherine was performing a Christmas concert
with her college choir, at the Brangwyn Hall in Swansea.
As she hit the high note, in O Holy Night, there was an
enormous bang. The audience ducked, worried that they were being
A true professional, Katherine just
carried on singing, even as tiny shards of glass showered around
Her voice had cracked one of the chandeliers above the stage!
"I haven't done it since," she giggles," but I
shall have to start practising at home to get the right frequency."
Needless to say, however, her voice has been in high demand ever
since, and her album looks set to be a hot prospect. Wales has
another musical talent to be proud of.
tickets for Katherine Jenkins at Blenheim Palace