Of An Angel
was invited by Posh Spice to sing at her birthday
bash, called a phenomenon by Russel Watson, requested
to perform at the Classical Brit Awards in London,
and worked with Beatles producer, Sir George Martin
on her album. Quite a feat for a girl who is only
16 years old. New Zealander Hayley Westenra, whose
repertoire of classical songs shot her to stardom
in her native land, has earned the honour of being
the biggest-selling local artist ever in New Zealand.
is currently celebrating the release of her first
international debut album, Pure, consisting
of a mix of classical, modern and cover songs as
opposed to her two previous albums, the self-titled
Hayley Westenra, which was a mix of show
music and classical pieces, and My Gift To You,
a classical-styled Christmas album.
Although Hayley sees herself primarily as a classical
performer, she does not wish to limit herself to
a stylistic corner, singing only classical tunes.
She has also agreed with her record company that
she should aim to reach a wider audience. Thus on
Pure, she has included a range of styles
such as pop, traditional Maori songs, operatic and
theatrical tunes. The music in Pure truly
showcases her amazing vocal skills, whose voice
reviewers describe as angelic. Her vocal prowess
is particularly highlighted in the beautiful harmonies
of Kate Bushís Wuthering Heights, where her
excellent rendition of this hauntingly beautiful
song would surely make Kate Bush nod in approval.
who travels with her dad Gerald Westenra (heís also
her manager) and her make-up artist, is currently
on tour in Asia to promote her album. Galaxie met
up with Hayley and chatted with this waif-like beauty
with the captivating voice.
artist has a success story. Whatís yours?
I recorded a demo album when I was 13 and made about
1,000 copies to distribute. I gave one to a lady
who turned out to be a TV station journalist and
she arranged for a TV appearance, and Gray Bartlett
(a leading New Zealand concert promoter) spotted
me and that led to a deal with Universal Music.
propelled you to sing?
I come for an artistic family of musicians with
the exception of my dad (he is a gemologist). My
grandparents on both sides used to perform in hotels,
pubs and even on radio. Even my mum was a singer
so it sort of rubbed off on us, the children.
when was your first concert?
At six, when I performed at a school show called
"The Little Star". I was playing the lead for the
show and after the show, my teacher, Mrs.Compton
suggested that I take up a musical instrument to
nurture my talent.
have two Maori songs in your album. Do you actually
speak the language?
We learn Maori in school but it is not so widely
spoken, and so I had to make sure I had the pronunciation
right in Pokarekare Ana and Hine e Hine.
was the idea of having two Maori songs in the album?
Itís because I am a New Zealander and itís part
of my identity, and in school, weíd always sing
Maori songs. They are truly beautiful songs to sing
with a mass meaning behind them. Pokarekare Ana
is about someone leaving to sea and leaving loved
ones behind. Hine e Hine is a lullaby, a
mum singing her daughter to sleep.
you choose the songs on the album?
I choose all the songs but a lot of them were suggested
to me. Wuthering Heights wasnít on my original
list but Giles the producer and my mum were the
ones who asked me to give the song a try. But itís
not like they push any songs on me.
choose the classical music genre when other young
artists would prefer to do pop or rock?
When I was younger, I did try to sing pop music
but it was quite low and it didnít suit my voice.
Classical music was introduced to me and I enjoyed
singing it so much. But on my album, itís not strictly
classical style but I also included a few poppier
tracks like Who Painted The Moon Black and
a few others. Just a bit more variety.
music seems very rooted in you. Did you grow up
listening to classical then?
I did. Apparently when I was a baby, my parents
used to play classical music to me. Subconsciously,
that may have influenced me.
music do you listen to now?
Coldplay, The Corrs, Destinyís Child, Enrique Iglesias
and many others.
constantly compared to Charlotte Church. Do you
mind the comparisons?
to RWHW Group for this item
I met her while I was singing in Cardiff at Russel
Watsonís concert. Sheís really lovely and I donít
mind the comparison. It doesnít really bother me
that much. But I do want to make my own mark, and
have my own style. I donít want to be another Charlotte