SENSATION: Hayley Westenra has international success
in her sights. But the teen sensation has no desire
to be the music world's next wild child.
DAVID WHITE/Sunday Star-Times
Pure by name
Posh wants her for parties and Sting for snaps but
Hayley Westenra isn't letting fame go to her head, as
Jane Wynyard reports.
looks like an angel, has a sensational new album called
Pure and likes nothing better than hanging out with
her mum and friends in Christchurch.
much for the new Charlotte Church.
good girl Hayley Westenra is sailing through her teenage
years with narry a blemish to sully that perfect complexion
and reputation. Meanwhile in Britain, Church, the Welsh
teenager who sold millions of albums in a similar lite-classical
vein to the Christchurch teenager, has sacked her manager
mum, become engaged to a bad boy DJ, taken up smoking
and drinking and verbally abused some of pop's top divas.
this unruly behaviour has raised eyebrows among Church's
fans (and detractors), it's done little to rattle Westenra's
secure cage. Despite being hot property at just 16,
Westenra says she's determined not to follow in the
footsteps of her Welsh contemporary.
don't mind the musical comparison to Charlotte because
it helps people to understand where I'm coming from
in terms of the music I'm singing," she says. "But in
terms of the other stuff, that will never happen to
me. I'm just not that sort of person. It's just not
just returned from four months in the UK recording her
new album with Beatles producer Sir George Martin and
his son Giles and says she would one day love to be
as successful as Celine Dion - with a more classical
years ago Westenra was busking on the streets of Christchurch
with her younger brother and sister. Her CV now includes
dates with Britain's Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and
an appearance at the Classical Brit Awards in London
this year. She's just signed an international contract
with Decca Music Group - the label behind Pavarotti
and Russell Watson - which says it will make the Kiwi
songstress its number one international priority.
young woman with the voice reviewers describe as an
angel's is sitting in the hip offices of Universal Music
in Auckland wearing flared jeans, platform shoes and
a trendy "rock and roll" coat from London. The transformation
from gangly Kiwi teenager to worldly star is marked.
has a make-up artist and hairdresser at her beck and
call, travels the world, has her own website and fan
club and even manages her own financial affairs. And
although Westenra is heavily marketed and managed, her
label, Universal Music, insists it won't do anything
to compromise her wholesome image.
this self-confessed "down to earth Kiwi girl" has already
started to attract attention overseas. Victoria Beckham
invited Westenra to sing at her lavish birthday bash,
she's been photographed with Andrea Bocelli and Sting
and partied at the same London Fashion Week function
as Holly Valance and Christine Aquilera.
photographer must have thought I was famous because
he took my photo at the event." she says with a disarming
still acts like a typical teenager - she loves talking
about clothes, her friends and family and her dislike
at having to do homework. But behind a microphone or
in front of an audience, she transforms into a singer
mature beyond her years.
George, whom Westenra describes as "very lovely and
down to earth", says the young Kiwi is a brilliant singer.
great to see her singing because she doesn't look like
she's really trying and what she is doing is incredibly
difficult," he says in Westenra's promotional video.
"People who have been doing it for years can't do what
Pure she explores pop, traditional Maori choral singing
and well-known classical repertoire. There's her version
of Kate Bush's "Wuthering Heights", a rendition of "Hine
E Hine" and Westenra's favourite, "Who Painted the Moon
month, Westenra heads off on a promotional whirlwind
to launch the album in Australia, Asia, the UK and America
and plans to return to New Zealand at the end of the
admits to getting homesick and missing her friends.
She struggles to keep up with her schoolwork, doesn't
have time for a boyfriend and is constantly on the move.
But she's also living her dream and these are small
sacrifices to make.
hard to step back and think Owow, look at my life' because
most of the time you are dealing with what's happening
along the way. But yeah," says Westenra, "I'm living
is released on July 17 (2003).
News Menu 2003