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£1m deal for girl with golden voice
Thursday, 18th March, 2004
source: western mail | credit: article link thanks to jon vosloo

Karen Price, The Western Mail

NOT long ago she was just another music teacher. Now she's in a record-breaking class of her own.

For Welsh mezzo soprano Katherine Jenkins has secured the largest deal for a new artist in UK classical recording history.

The 23-year-old former music teacher, has signed an agreement believed to be worth at least £1m with Universal Classics, home to such renowned artists as Luciano Pavarotti, Andrea Bocelli, Bryn Terfel and Ren e Fleming.

Katherine, who is from Neath, landed the six-album contract several months ago when a friend sent the record label a recording of her voice on a pop opera. But bosses were so impressed with her talents that it has now been extended to an undisclosed seven-figure sum.

It means her contract is bigger than the ones landed by former Voice of an Angel Charlotte Church and current classical favourite Hayley Westenra.

As details of the record contract were announced yesterday , Katherine said, "I don't like to talk about money and it's not for me to spend on myself, it's for the albums.

"But I was shocked [by the deal] - it's the best classical label in the world."

Katherine, who graduated from the Royal Academy of Music in 2002, releases her debut album Premiere on April 19. It is billed as a "captivating mix" of opera arias, Welsh songs plus Handel, Bizet and Bach classics.

She is the official mascot for the Welsh rugby team and sings at all of their home games.

Last autumn she travelled to Australia for the Rugby World Cup and during the trip performed at the Sydney Opera House.

Katherine was 15 years old when her father Selwyn died and she says the tragedy became the catalyst for her pursuing her dream of becoming the most successful mezzo soprano that Britain has ever produced.

"My father took early retirement and he always took me to singing lessons, concerts and competitions," says Katherine.

"If I was nervous he would always say, 'You can do it'. Now whenever I need strength I always think of him. I know he is there egging me on."

Katherine recently quit her London job as a music teacher to concentrate on her singing career and is now eagerly awaiting the release of her debut album.

"I wanted the album to be an introduction to myself so there are three religious songs, including The Lord is my Shepherd, to reflect my church background and a Welsh section and a section of opera songs."

She does not mind the inevitable comparisons with Charlotte Church, who is currently working with Robbie Williams' former writing partner, Guy Chambers.

"I take it as a compliment. I really admire what she has done and if I can achieve what she's achieved then that would be more than I've ever dreamed of."

In the future, Katherine hopes to enjoy a career similar to Welshman and bass baritone Bryn Terfel, who combines concert performances with full-scale operas.

"I really admire the way that Bryn Terfel combines both. He has found the balance between recording and live performances and opera work.

"I don't think I'm ready right now for full-scale opera performances but I would like to think that in a few years time I could find that balance."

She is now preparing for a tour with 16-year-old Hayley Westenra before promoting her debut album.

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