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Tuesday, August 5, 2003

Hayley Westenra
photo by Ros O'Gorman

Hayley Westenra, The Busker With The Number 1 Record

Hayley Westenra has the Number 1 album in New Zealand this week. 'Pure' is also Number 7 in Australia. But did you know this 16 year old star was once a busker?

"I think the fact that just knowing if you are out of the streets and hungry you can just put out a hat and start singing. I think it is exciting" she tells Undercover News. "People start putting money in your hat as soon as you start singing. When I was busking down the art centre (which was where I usually busked) I would get big crowds on the weekend".

Busking gave the young singer the chance to try out some classic standards on the general public. "I've got some classical songs because I work unaccompanied and they work well. I used to bring out a CD player and sing some Andrea Bocelli songs. Everyone loved 'Time To Say Goodbye". It is funny thinking about it now" she says.

As well as busking, she also earned money performing singing telegrams. "That is true. We had a family friend who puts on birthday parties" she says. "When I was 12 or 13 he got me singing the odd telegram. It was cool. I enjoyed it. It is a lot of fun surprising people. The guy would write lyrics for each individual person. I once had to sing 'Somewhere Over The Rainbow' for his best friends birthday".

So, at the ripe old age of 16, Hayley's resume looks something like this - busker, Singing telegrams, number 1 album. "I guess it is just weird really. The fact some people have gone out and bought my album I find so strange" she says. "Why would you want to listen to me? TV1 news in New Zealand came to my school and interviewed me and my friends. They followed me around".

Hayley is in her second last year of school. Now with the success comes a lot of travel and promotion so Hayley has a tutor.

So will she make a career out of singing? "I did go through a stage because where I didn't think I could be a singer" she says. "The chances of being a singer professionally for your whole career are quite slim. I thought I could be a Vet because I love animals".

Hayley's 'Pure' album is out though Universal.

by Paul Cashmere

Undercover Music News is also featured on MusicNewswire



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