opens her heart on email
Hannah Jones, The Western Mail
She has a £3m record deal and the fastest selling
album of all time. The only problem for Hayley Westenra
is finding time to do her homework and write to her
new e-mail friend singing, clothes shopping and the
trials of being famous and sweet 16.
does it feel growing up in the public spotlight?
"Good. I actually don't really take much notice
of the fact that I am growing up in the public eye.
I've been lucky in that I started out in New Zealand,
where everyone just leaves you to lead your own life."
you ever think you would be famous?
"I definitely dreamt about it, like every little
you get fed up being called "the new Charlotte
"I've kind of got used to it now! I think initially
people just try and pigeon-hole you and it was an obvious
comparison because of our age and the fact that we both
sung classical music. But really, we both have quite
different voices and styles."
was it like singing with Bryn Terfel and José
Carreras at the Faenol Festival in North Wales last
year? Were you over-awed?
"Completely, it was incredible! I just couldn't
believe that I was actually up on stage, singing alongside
two legendary singers; it was a very surreal experience!"
paid for your first recording yourself, didn't you?
How did that all come about?
"When I was about 11-years-old I would go out busking
with my younger sister, Sophie, at the weekends. I then
saved up the money that I'd earned and put it towards
making a recording of my voice."
did you feel when Pure went double platinum in the UK?
"It was so exciting, but very humbling at the same
did you first know that you had a talent for singing?
"I don't know. I just enjoyed singing and kept
discovered you, Hayley?
"I sent a copy of the album my family had helped
me make to some record companies, including Universal
Music. They listened to it and signed me up!"
only 16 but have sold more records than Pavarotti. How
does that make you feel?
"I have a long, long way to go before I feel comfortable
being mentioned in the same breath as Pavarotti! I'm
happy Pure has sold so well, but I'm sure if you included
all Pavarotti's record sales together I would still
have a few million to sell to match him."
and what is your inspiration?
"I love music, love singing, love doing quality
songs. That's it."
do you feel when you sing?
"I always dreamed about being a singer but I was
quite realistic about what I hoped for. I thought, well,
maybe when I'm older I could do part-time professional
singing and have a job too. Once I got to the stage
of getting a record contract with Universal, that's
when things started to get exciting. Now I've got an
international contract with the Decca Music Group and
I'm doing things like singing with José Carreras
and Bryn Terfel - it's really exciting."
you do a tour with Aled Jones?
"Yes I did, at the end of last year. Aled is so
lovely; I had such a great time with him."
you see yourself solely as a classical performer?
"I like to perform different styles of music but
overall I am more classically based than any other style."
you like to do other styles of music in the future though?
If so, what?
"I really like Celtic music and recently covered
a Loreena McKennit (not sure if I spelt that right?)
you didn't! It's with two t's!
come from a musical family, don't you? Tell me about
them if you can.
"All of my family are on tour with me at the moment.
My brother Isaac sings, plays flute and the piano. Sophie
is making a demo album at the moment; she plays violin,
piano and sings. My grandmother and grandfather used
to tour clubs and bars in NZ every weekend singing and
playing. He could play any instrument by ear."
what about you - did you always want to be a singer?
So what do you like to do off stage?
"I would say travel but I'm doing so much of that
anyway, although not seeing much aside from studios,
hotels and concert halls. I like climbing, shopping,
seeing a good film."
it hard to be a typical teenager when you've got your
level of success?
"I just enjoy what I do, so I don't feel I've missed
out on anything."
you remember when you first heard a song of yours on
the radio or how you felt when you were recognised for
the first time?
"It felt like a different person was singing."
the best thing about being famous? And the worst!
"Getting to do something that I enjoy so much,
but not having much time for anything else."
you like to write your own songs in the future?
"I do write songs and will record them at the right
time. I just want to record the best songs I can and
at the moment the best songs are coming from other songwriters."
you have much input into your image or the songs you
"I buy/borrow all my clothes. I wouldn't wear anything
I'm not comfortable with. I also choose which songs
bet your strong Celtic roots have also influenced you,
what with your grandparents emigrating from Wales and
"It's important for a vocalist to be able to sing
in any language. To portray the emotion in a song you
need to have an understanding of what the song is about.
And if the song is in another language, then I try to
find a translation."
you could pick five people to duet with, who would they
be and why
"Andrea Bocelli is my favourite. Dame Kiri would
be cool too and I would love to do something with Dame
Malvina Major, who was really helpful in developing
do you find the time to do your homework?
"It's tough, especially on the road. But I manage."
an ambassador for Unicef. What does that involve?
"I try and use the platform I'm given through the
music to help and highlight issues that Unicef is trying
to bring to wider public attention. Check out their
website if you can, it's www.unicef.org"
do you like to listen to?
"At the moment it's Joni Mitchell. I also like
Vanessa Carlton, Heather Nova and of course Bocelli."
Beckham invited you to sing at her World Cup party?
Did you do it?
"It clashed with a date I already had. It was such
a shame that I didn't get to do it."
have access to your fortune now, don't you? Are you
an extravagant spender?
"I certainly don't have a fortune! I still have
to watch the pennies, so I shop very carefully, only
buying something if I really need it. Unfortunately,
the million dollar record deal was just a story made
up by the publicity person to try and get a bit of press!"
do you think you'll handle fame when you're older and
start having boyfriends etc. Will you mind if the paparazzi
start following you about?
"When it happens I'll have to deal with it. I'm
too busy to even think about it at the moment."
you have any ambitions to perform in professional opera?
If so, what would be your dream role
"Perhaps one day, yes. I don't have my eye on any
roles though. My voice is still developing, so it's
a good while off."
you get nervous?
"A little! It adds to the excitement before a concert,
gives it an edge which makes it even more enjoyable
once I am actually performing."
what it's like, being up there with all the lights on
"It's a really great feeling when you're on stage;
you are in darkness and then you step out into the lights
and it is like you've moved into a different world."
kind of songs can the audience in Wales expect from
"They'll hear stuff mostly from my album Pure along
with some classics."
would you prefer to duet with - Daniel Beddingfield
or Dame Kiri?
"No contest - Kiri is more in my style!"
does the future hold?
"I am going to be based in New York from April
until the end of the year as Pure is released there
on April 6. I will be in the UK again in May/June to
do my GCSEs. I also hope to make another album this
are you happy?
"If I could be anyone in the world, I'd actually
choose to be me, where I am right now, because I'm so
excited about what I'm doing. I really didn't expect
this to happen. It is amazing how one thing leads to
Westenra is in concert at St David's Hall in Cardiff
making of a superstar
located by the Roger Mansbridge