Wednesday, 12th March, 2004_

News Menu Button Dream come true - Part Two

Among her favourite classical artists are Bryn Terfel and Andrea Bocelli, and, of course, Westenra, the 16-year-old Kiwi singing sensation who she goes into rehearsals with next week.

"Hayley is simply amazing," she says. "She's got a great voice and a great talent and I've seen at close hand how hard she works - she really deserves the success she's had, even at such a young age.

"I'm really looking forward to coming to Llandudno, it's a beautiful place and I spent a lot of time there on weekends away when I was younger. Last summer I came up to see Hayley and Bryn in the Faenol Festival, but this will be the first time I've actually performed in North Wales."

The tour, which sees the pair perform at Cardiff's St David's Hall a week after the Llandudno date, meant the release date for Premiere had to be put back from its original St David's Day launch. So, instead of attending a publicity party for her album, Katherine was able to undergo a bit of reality TV rejuvenation when she appeared in a Welsh edition of C4's hairdressing reality show, The Salon.

"It was really weird," she says. "I went in and had my nails done and sang the National Anthem - everyone was really nice, but the minute I walked in there I was so self conscious. You can't see the cameras because they're all behind the mirrors, but that makes it even worse. I don't think I looked in the mirror once!"

It seems strange that she should be self-conscious after twice singing in front of thousands at a national sports stadium (the second time was before the recent Six Nations game against France) and has performed at some of the world's finest opera venues.

Her album reflects some of those defining moments in her blossoming career - Ave Maria brings back memories of singing for the Pope, while the record wouldn't be complete without Bread Of Heaven - "it's such a great rugby song, it's really special". But one of her favourites is still The Lord Is My Shepherd, which for her marks a moment that kick-started her success story - when she won Welsh Choirgirl Of The Year title, aged 11.

"I feel like that was the first breakthrough of my singing career and it just seemed so apt to include it on my debut album," she says.

So, one album down, five more to go on her record deal with Universal Classics. She says one ambition for the future is to play her favourite role Carmen for a second time, and to have a number one record in the classical chart. She may just be on the verge of achieving that, but for now she is quite content with being hailed as "the new Welsh diva".

"This is my dream come true," she smiles.

* Hayley Westenra and Katherine Jenkins, North Wales Theatre, Llandudno, March 21 and St David's Hall, Cardiff, March 28.

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Article located by Keith S


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