By Lennat Mak
Hayley Westenra has all the makings of a sweetheart. At
age 16, she has inked a five-album £3 million pound deal
with Universal Music, scored a No. 1 debut album on the
New Zealand pop charts and became the fastest selling
debut classical artist in her hometown. Despite the imposing
achievements, Hayley remains as candid as a regular 16-year-old
would be, sharing her family photo album that she brings
along everywhere she goes.
"That's me and my sister Sophie," Hayley points to a picture
of them, each clutching a mike in their hands, singing
to the hearts of the crowd that had gathered around them.
"We used to bring a little amp, a CD player and a couple
of microphones and we would just start busking in town,"
she reminisces with a twinkle in her eyes.
And as she flips through the album of photos -- little
brother Issac smiling with wind in his hair, Christmas
gatherings, dollhouse in the backyard, acting in her very
first play, singing in front of a grand audience, you'd
realise how far this young lass of Christchurch, New Zealand
has come. It all started with her first performance in
a primary school Christmas play called The Littlest
"Hayley was just six and and all she'd said to me was,
'Mummy, I need my ballet gear.' So we went along and found
that in fact she was the star of the show -- the littlest
star," said Hayley's mum, Jill.
by her teacher who discovered that she was pitch-perfect,
Hayley started taking up vocals and piano lessons, and
mastered the skill of reading music by seven. At 11, she
appeared in more than 40 stage productions, sung on TV
shows and countless major concerts. Then, she went busking.
This little weekend activity actually helped Hayley to
pool enough money for a demo album that she recorded in
2000. Only 1,000 copies were pressed. Other than friends
and family members, Hayley included record companies in
Australia and New Zealand on the mailing list as well.
Recognising a talent when they see one, Universal New
Zealand quickly snapped up the young singing sensation.
Reception of Hayley's debut album was great. It made its
first splash at No. 1 on the pop charts and turned triple
platinum in New Zealand. A Christmas album My Gift
To You later, Hayley is all ready to take on the international
charts with her third album Pure that saw her working
with producer Giles Martin, as well as his father Sir
George, otherwise known as the fifth Beatle. Backed by
Hayley's ability to paint a scenic sonic soundscape with
her angelic voice and the production work of the Martins,
Pure became a hit in the U.K., a place where Hayley
currently spends most of her time at. According to the
U.K. press, sales of Pure outshines "anything Charlotte
Church has managed -- or Pavarotti, Andrea Bocelli or
Russell Watson, for that matter."
With the success she achieved so far, would she go incognito
and busk on the streets again if she has the chance?
"Definitely!" said the all smiling Hayley eagerly.
Hayley Westenra on MTV Asia where she will be telling
us all about her favourite things as well as her favourite
music videos on MTV Southeast Asia at the following times:
October 10, 2030
October 15, 1600
October 21, 1230
October 25, 0100
*Please note that the above showtimes are in Singapore
MTV ASIA 2003
News Menu 2003