News from Hayley Westenra -



News Menu Button Snowflakes kept falling on her head... an American Dream
(Direct from Steve Abbott,
Hayley's Manager)

Hayley is very proud to be a Kiwi (aside from a beautiful country, there is a great effort made to keep it unspoiled), but the whole family like to make sure they are synonymous with Christchurch. SO, rather than take the easy route and recruit a band of musicians from Auckland, it was decided (by Hayley) that it would be good to recruit local musicians.

The final line up is string quartet, drums, bass, guitar, piano/keyboards and special guests Brandon Poe (a Maori Tenor with a great personality and voice) and Hinewehi Mohi (who has released two albums as Oceania) as well as Sophie and Isaac!

The hardest thing was telling the people that auditioned and didn't get in the band.

As soon as they were chosen, we were off to the States. First LA, and Hayley did showcases singing in conference type rooms with a ghetto blaster playing some backing track and the wonderful Tom DeLuca (who we'd never met until we turned up!) on acoustic guitar, an isolation ward in a hospital would be less sterile!

She just blew them away; the music directors (MD's) and Casting Directors do this all the time in a disinterested kind of way. After 4 days Hayley was offered 2 films and two TV shows, acting and singing. The main problem is that she can really act, hence when she auditioned for the casting directors at Warners (who, among other things cast "Friends", which was recording the last episode next door under heavy security) they offered her a spot on OC, which is one of the biggest TV shows in the States. One of the films is shooting the week of the first dates in NZ, and they were amazed, as were the record company, when Hayley wouldn't consider rescheduling the dates, so we're not sure if the film will happen (Princess Diaries 2). The showcase at Disney was amazing, 30 people turned up, which is quite unusual. Hayley appears in Mulan 2, singing the end titles.

Very exciting was the creator of American Dreams offering two acting parts on the spot within minutes of hearing her sing. Again, schedule-wise the first one may not be possible, but the second one she just has to do, playing Joni Mitchell acting and singing. It's a really good quality show.

Onto New York, and a severe temperature change! On the day of the showcase the change had got to all of us, Hayley's throat was swollen on one side. I've seen her do this so many times, where everybody is worried sick and somehow she just steps up there and turns it on. The studio (used for Good Morning America TV Show) looks out onto Times Square and just before Hayley came on, the snowflakes started falling. It was simply magical, Pokarekare Ana, Amazing Grace, Across The Universe of Time, Who Painted The Moon Black, and a show-stopping version of Mary Did You Know. Encore was Wuthering Heights, which everybody keeps telling her not to sing, but she blows all away when she does.

No one would have known that she was singing at less than capacity, if only they had witnessed the Faenol Festival, or any of the three Albert Hall performances before Christmas! I invited a few real people, including Pauli and his Kiwi locals, who had never seen Hayley sing live before, and it was good to know that the real people were even more enthusiastic than the media.

Anyway, the album is out in North America on April 6th and the David Letterman Show and Good Morning America are confirmed first week. I just hope after this gruelling tour (Hayley is the youngest singer to ever embark on a full international tour) Hayley still has the voice to do it all, although I have no doubt that, as always, she will just make it happen.

Interesting point that Jill Westenra took the photo for the cover of "Wuthering Heights", she did a better job in capturing Hayley than the official photographers.

On the 20th Feb Hayley is to be presented with a 10 x Platinum Award by Helen Clark, the NZ Prime Minister, at the Hilton Hotel, Auckland, the best selling artist in NZ history. Also, Amazing Grace is number one in the Japanese chart this week ........

Steve Abbott (somewhere over the Pacific)


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