Young talent's time
WHAT a few months can do when your career is on
fire. In July, 16-year-old Kiwi pee-wee Hayley Westenra
was being introduced to Brisbane in a short performance
at the 4MBS studios in Coorparoo.
Two weeks ago, the young Kiwi classical singer was
a key participant in an exclusive London performance
at a private dinner for the Queen, UK Prime Minister
Tony Blair and US President George Bush.
dignitaries were joined by their spouses and key
US political figures such as Colin Powell and Condoleezza
Rice for a musical show based on the repertoire
of renowned British musical director Andrew Lloyd
was called upon to perform four songs – a solo of
Pie Jesu; a duet of Let Us Love in Peace
from The Beautiful Game with Irish singer
Shonagh Daly; and a duet of I Believe My Heart,
the lead track to Webber's new musical Woman
in White which she sang with the musical's male
lead, Kevin McKidd.
the finale, Hayley joined the other stars on stage
for a stunning rendition of No Matter What.
has been an amazing experience," Hayley said. "It's
such an honour to be asked to perform in front of
the Queen of England and some of the world's leading
political figures, and equally amazing to work with
Andrew Lloyd Webber. I still can't quite believe
she spoke to The Sunday Mail from London
last week, Hayley was still enraptured by the trappings
of the event.
had to go through six sets of security checks just
to get to the venue area," she says of the intense
security blanket thrown over the London visit by
President Bush by White House secret service staff.
the exceptional has become the norm for this unique
young lady, who wears her fame with a youthful nonchalance.
eldest of the three Westenra children, all of whom
possess notable vocal talents, Hayley was raised
in the Christchurch area of New Zealand's South
Island. Her parents encouraged all of their progeny
but are decidedly not the archetype pushy stage
being signed by Universal Music in New Zealand in
2001, Hayley raced to Kiwi stardom with the release
of her debut self-titled album. As well as beating
out the likes of Dido, Craig David, Westlife and
Robbie Williams, that album remained at No. 1
on the pop charts for four weeks.
has subsequently gone on to become the biggest-selling
local artist in her homeland, effortlessly knocking
off the likes of Split Enz and Crowded House.
Hayley was signed by Decca International, and her
first international album Pure was released
in Australasia, the UK and Europe in July. It has
earned gold certification here with sales of 60,000.
The Oz platinum figure of 70,000 units is expected
to be reached before Christmas.
certainly won't be harmed by the addition of a bonus
disc of four new tracks, including three of a seasonal
it's in the UK where Ms Westenra's talents have
been most warmly received. The Pure album
has rapidly become the fastest-selling debut classical
artist in UK history. It reached gold status in
a week and platinum in eight weeks. And it's quadruple-platinum
in the Land of the Long White Cloud.
album offers an intriguing collection of classical,
pop and even Maori repertoire. It was produced by
Giles Martin, son of George Martin of Beatles fame.
the Pure album, I wanted to explore a variety
of styles. Everybody involved with the project pitched
in with ideas. But I wanted to include a couple
of Maori songs: they're gorgeous and I wanted to
share them with the rest of the world," she says.
she's facing up to one of the most hectic weeks
of her life. After last night's Amnesty International
Christmas concert in London's Trafalgar Square,
Hayley today tapes a Christmas Day TV special with
talk show host Michael Parkinson.
is a free day and then she plays the Royal Albert
Hall on Tuesday evening with Bryn Terfel and the
following night with Jose Carreras at the same venue.
launches her North American promo invasion next
Pure by Hayley Westenra is out now.