With a love of singing as a child Katherine Jenkins had both vocal and piano lessons, took part in musical productions and from the age of eleven was a member of the Royal School of Church Music Cathedral Singers from who she received their highest award. She spent time with the National Youth Choir of Wales and won several choir competitions before winning a scholarship to study at the Royal Academy of Music in London. After graduating with honours she taught singing and having already done some modelling work, she entered the Face Of Wales competition in 2000 and won. The whole time she was determined to pursue a life in music and in 2003 she signed the biggest ever recording contract in the history of classical music in the UK with Universal Classics. The same year and before she had even released a record she appeared at Westminster Abbey singing in honour of Pope John Paul II. Her debut album Première was issued the following year and entered the UK mainstream charts at No 31 but also topped the classical charts. The album established the template for the area within which she would build her career; light classical crossover that has gone on to attract a pop audience previously uninterested in classical music.
Six months later Jenkins was back at No 1 in the classical charts (and No 16 in the mainstream) with Second Nature (later released as La Diva in North America) that featured the duet 'Vide Cor Meum' with Welsh tenor Rhys Meirion. The following year Living A Dream became her most successful album to that point, her third classical chart topper and a platinum selling No 4 record in the mainstream listings. Serenade in 2006 featured a guest appearance from the hugely popular New Zealand soprano Dame Kiri Te Kanawa on 'The Flower Duet' while the album was yet another No 1 in the classical charts and her highest mainstream hit peaking at No 3. The following year's Rejoice saw Jenkins broadening her range of songs and included two tracks co-written by songwriter Andy Hill (best known for his work with Bucks Fizz) and Take That's Gary Barlow ('Shout In Silence' and 'Viva Tonight'), one by Steve Mac and Wayne Hector ('Rejoice'), one by Steve Mac, Blair Daly and Chris Farren ('I Will Pray For You') and one by Steve Mac, Jorgen Elöfsson and John Reid ('How Do You Leave The One You Love'). The record also included 'Secret Love' (from Calamity Jane), 'Somewhere' (from Carousel) and Seal's 'Kiss From A Rose'. The album was yet another No 1 in the classical charts as was the following year's Sacred Arias that would be her last for Universal Classics. A new year (2009) and a new record company (Warner Bros) but no change in the reception for a new Katherine Jenkins album greeted the release of Believe. Her seventh UK classical chart topper was a much more celebrity-laden affair and featured appearances from Andrea Bocelli ('I Believe'), violinist André Rieu ('Ancora Non Sai'), Cody Carey ('No Woman, No Cry') and trumpeter Chris Botti ('La Califfa'). The record was produced by the legendary David Foster, and Jenkins continued to tackle songs from a diverse group of writers including Evanescence ('Bring Me To Life'), Sarah McLachlan ('Angel'), Richard Marx ('Fear Of Falling') and Queen ('Who Wants To Live Forever').
In 2010 Jenkins appeared as a judge and mentor in the British independent TV Talent show Popstar To Operastar that ran for two seasons. The longest gap between records of her career so far preceded the release of Daydream in 2011 and despite the inclusion of 'Abigail's Song', an original tune taken from the Doctor Who special A Christmas Carol, in which she made her acting debut, the album was her least popular up until the release of the 2012 seasonal record This Is Christmas.
Jenkins is one of the most successful female classical artists of all time, her first seven albums all topped the UK Classical charts, she has received two consecutive classical BRIT Awards while in the 2014 New Year's Honours list she was made an OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire). There is demonstrably a sizeable market for this type of crossover classical music but no matter how talented, virtuosic or well produced the performance it is unlikely to convert a significant number of really committed classical or pop fans. However the highly photogenic Katherine Jenkins is an exceptionally expressive mezzo-soprano and she has an excellent sense of the songs that she can bring something new to. Inevitably much of the music she has recorded was not originally composed in English and while she is never less than extremely competent singing foreign languages there's no doubt that she is at her very best when she sings in her native Welsh.
Copyright © 2016 Omnibus Press