Katherine Jenkins biography

Katherine Jenkins

Last updated: 28 March 2011

In 2004, at the age of 23, Katherine Jenkins signed the largest record deal in UK classical recording history.

But it was hardly an overnight success for this mezzo-soprano from Neath. By the age of seven, Katherine's early interest in pop had given way to a love of classical music, and she began taking piano lessons and joined the local choir.

My three ambitions have always been to sing at the Millennium Stadium and the Sydney Opera House, and to get to number one in the classical charts. I can't believe I've done all three.

Katherine Jenkins

In the decade that followed she represented Wales three times in the Choirgirl Of The Year competition, twice won the BBC Radio 2 Welsh Choirgirl Of The Year contest, and won the BET Welsh Choirgirl Of The Year. She was a member of the Royal School of Church Music Cathedral Singers and the National Youth Choir of Wakes.

Katherine won a scholarship to study at the Royal Academy of Music in London and graduated with honours.

In October 2003 she sang at a mass honouring the Pope's silver jubilee at Westminster Cathedral. The same month she supported Aled Jones on tour, before performing at the Sydney Opera House as a special guest of Max Boyce.

Since then she has become the official mascot for the Wales rugby team. Before the 2003 Rugby World Cup she recorded the Welsh team's official song, a version of Bread Of Heaven backed by a 100-piece male voice choir. Prior to that, she'd sung the Welsh national anthem Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium before the Wales/England game.

"I was so nervous before," she said, "but as I walked along the tunnel 70,000 people were singing Delilah. I just felt so at home that I wasn't the least bit nervous. I sang, walked off, and halfway up the tunnel I turned to jelly."

Released in April 2004, Katherine's classical chart-topping debut album Premiere, is a mix of old standards including Ave Maria and The Lord Is My Shepherd, plus a smattering of traditional Welsh songs and new interpretations of classic tunes by Handel, Bach, Erik Satie and others.

Before signing to Universal Classics, Katherine had worked as a music teacher. The catalyst for her pursuit of success was the death of her father when she was just 15 years old.

In 2004 she performed at Westminster Cathedral, Sydney Opera House, the Royal Albert Hall and Cardiff's Millennium Stadium. In October the same year, Katherine's second album, Second Nature, was released, reaching number 16 in the UK pop charts.

2005 saw appearances at Tsunami Relief Cardiff and the G8 concert, Live 8, in Berlin. Katherine also became the new forces' sweetheart, performing at the VE Day anniversary concert at Trafalgar Square, at which she was introduced by Dame Vera Lynn. She went on to perform for the troops in Iraq in December 2005 and 2006.

Following the release of Katherine's third album, Living A Dream, in October 2005, her three albums occupied the first three positions in the classical crossover music charts, making her the first artist to achieve this. The album earned Katherine her second Classical Brit award, following her win the previous year for Second Nature.

Her fourth, Serenade, was released in 2006, followed by Rejoice in 2007 and Sacred Arias in 2008, her last recording for Universal before signing with Warner Music for allegedly the biggest classical recording deal in history. The album Believe was released in 2009.

Katherine's high profile has led to appearances on many different platforms. She's had a cameo role in Emmerdale; modelled on the catwalk for Naomi Campbell's Fashion Relief charity event; appeared in The Apprentice and the Last Night Of The Proms in Hyde Park; toured with ballerina Darcey Bussell in their Viva La Diva tour; and sang alongside Rhydian Roberts in the X Factor final

In 2010, she was a mentor on the ITV show, Popstar to Operastar, and made her TV acting debut in the Doctor Who Christmas special.

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