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School, friends still come first with Hayley

 N E W S   I T E M

01 MARCH 2002

It is a huge relief to hear teenage singing sensation Hayley Westenra likes shopping, Nelly Furtado and getting together with her friends. It means she's normal, just like any other 14-year-old college girl except, that is, for her voice.

This young woman who has been singing since she was six, first recorded a CD, for personal use when she was 12. She was quickly signed up by Universal when she was 13. Her next project is to head to London this month to record a third album, for release later in the year.

In Blenheim this weekend, Hayley will perform at the Marlborough Centre tomorrow night, and at the Awatere High Country Festival on Sunday. Her star has risen so quickly that even she has to pinch herself to ensure she's not dreaming. She recalls how it all began with a personal CD, made for members of her family.

"It was only a CD that we would be able to look back on in the future. Then when I was busking with my sister, people would come up and ask if I had made a recording and I said I had one, but no copies. So we decided if we got 1000 made, maybe we could sell them and it would be far more economical."

But having made quite a splash within the industry, Hayley, a pupil of Dame Malvina Major, is making no huge plans for her future, well aware how difficult the music business can be.

"I figure I have a bit of time. At the moment I quite enjoy singing contemporary music. Later I might want to focus on opera. But while singing is something I've always loved, I have been trying to be realistic. I never wanted to get my hopes up, so I've focused on school work. I may have to work in case I can't get a full time singing job."

And the young star says her siblings also have mean voices. Both Sophie aged 11 and Isaac aged eight, will be joining her in a few songs at the Awatere festival. Hayley's family won't be the only Westenras at the festival. It will be the ideal chance for her to catch up with some of her relations who live in the Awatere, who are also well known, maybe not for music but certainly in the sporting fields.

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