Updated: 11:13 p.m. ET Oct. 04, 2003
MUSIC: A CLASSY
Westenra isn’t—and never was—your average teen. At 10, she
busked on New Zealand’s streets to earn pocket money, later
recording songs for family and friends with the proceeds.
Now she’s 16, and “Pure,” her first international album, has
become the world’s fastest-selling classical debut.
glimpse of the wide, winsome smile on her album cover, one
would be forgiven for thinking of Westenra as just another
classical-lite teen being groomed to spice up the biz. Global
sales of classical music are rapidly eroding, and labels are
desperate for new stars with sparkly styles to bring in a
much-needed younger audience. But it’s worth repeating that
Westenra isn’t your average teen—and she’s not your average
classical popster. Her album includes sentimental ballads,
but also two beautiful traditional Maori songs. The emotional
range of “Pokarekare Ana” is simple, but Westenra’s rendition
sends shivers down the spine. She’s even bravely tackled the
tricky Kate Bush classic “Wuthering Heights.” Though she doesn’t
quite get to the guts of the song’s deranged wildness, Westenra
makes up for it with a piercing clarity and forcefulness.
To be sure, “Pure” might not captivate the purists. But beyond
the sugary pop there’s a ton of star quality in this teen’s
outstanding voice. It makes us hope she’s here to stay.
11:13 p.m. ET Oct. 04, 2003
thanks to Belinda H. Not for reproduction without prior permission