was like a ray of sunshine suddenly illuminating a rather
bleak winter's day. Sixteen-year-old Hayley Westenra,
who comes from Christchurch in New Zealand, was on a brief
visit to Brisbane to promote her international debut album
Pure, which has been in or near the Top 10
since it entered Australian charts four weeks ago.
Not bad for a teen with a pop take on a classical sound.
But Westenra is no ordinary teenager.
only has she been blessed with a most beautiful pure soprano
voice, she is lovely to look at and has the intelligence
to treat such natural gifts with care.
still can't believe such wonderful things are happening
to me – I couldn't be happier," Westenra says.
all started when the president of Decca classical records
in London heard a CD I made through Universal Music New
Zealand. He liked it and, would you believe, he flies
out to Christchurch to meet me and my family."
close-knit Westenras consist of mother Jill, who travels
with her oldest child while father Gerald, a gemologist,
stays at home with sister Sophie, 13, also a talented
musician, and brother Isaac, 10, whose interests are flute
result of the Decca meeting was an exclusive recording
deal with international release, which Westenra describes
as "like a fairytale".
entry into the performing world came via ballet when she
didn't even know what ballet was but my little friend
went to class so I told my mother I'd like to go too,"
at six I was the Littlest Star in a primary school Christmas
play. After the performance, a teacher told my mother
I ought to take up a musical instrument because I had
lessons began, then two years later I added piano to the
list. When I was 11, I started proper singing lessons
and at 14, we made a CD just for fun."
is no stranger to performing for large audiences. In 2001,
she made her first Australian appearance at the Carols
in the Domain, Sydney.
was followed last year by a performance on national TV
at the Bledisloe Cup and live at the Carols from the Sidney
Myer Music Bowl, Melbourne.
October that year, the superstar Russell Watson heard
me sing and I couldn't believe it when he asked me to
sing with him at his Sydney Opera House concert. I then
sang with him again at Carnegie Hall, New York and on
his UK tour."
a promotional tour of Australia, Hayley has 1½ days at
home before a big tour of South-East Asia, then concerts
with Bryn Terfel and Jose Carreras in Wales, and two open-air
performances outside London.
feel confident about what I'm doing now and much of that
is due to my wonderful teacher, the famous New Zealand
opera singer Dame Malvina Major. I can be shy off stage,
but on stage I'm in a different world. Making this new
album, Pure, has broadened my repertoire.
I see myself as primarily a classical performer, I don't
want to put myself into any special category yet. I want
to explore all different styles.
has a lot of variety: classical pieces, pop songs, traditional
New Zealand music.
was so honoured when legendary Beatles producer Sir George
Martin arranged a version of Amazing Grace and
also composed Beat of Your Heart especially for
also enjoyed the luxury of Sir George's son, Giles, as
producer of Pure.
is "definitely" an option further down the career track,
not until I'm older and my voice has developed further."
is out now through Universal.