Wednesday, July 28th 2004_

News Menu Button 17-year-old Hayley Westenra Charms Canadian Audience

By Julia Suppa

TORONTO, Digital Journal — The past decade has seen its fair share of wonderful singers and musicians: Luciano Pavarotti, Charlotte Church, Andrea Bocelli, Sarah Brightman, Celine Dion and Josh Groban. Finally, there is a new addition to this list: popular vocalist Hayley Westenra from New Zealand.

The 17-year-old singer recently visited Toronto to introduce her first album, Pure, to a very much attentive and excited audience. The event marked the soprano’s Canadian debut, and to say the least, she was surely welcomed.

When you listen to Westenra, her voice magically lifts your spirit and frees your mind from all the worries in the world. She remains calm and focused; her voice is perfectly pitched and well controlled, yet her movements are youthful and fun. She pairs her lyrics with her expressive, deep eyes to create a mood that captivates an audience. She has a reassuring and unpretentious attitude, a far cry from many pop singers her age today. Combining her vitality and energy with a classical and operatic sound, Westenra rejuvenates an audience.

Hayley Westenra's album Pure has already gone double platinum in the U.K. and 10-times platinum in New Zealand. — Photo by djc Features

Hayley Westenra's album Pure has already gone double platinum in the U.K. and 10-times platinum in New Zealand. — Photo by djc Features

She’s a young lady who, even in her jeans and satin tank top, looks ravishing. While most girls her age are still obsessing about their makeup, boys, and what to wear to the prom, Westenra is touring the world, singing about Heathcliffe in “Wuthering Heights” — one of her noted favourites.

It’s quite the sacrifice, leaving your friends and families behind, but Westenra is incredibly mature. “I’ve been spending a lot of time away from home... I guess I’ve missed out on kind of having more of a social life, but I’m not going to complain because I’m so lucky to have this opportunity,” she says. “I’m kind of living my dream.”

And what a dream it is. Her angelic and mystifying quality is best heard at a live performance, as it quickly takes you to another world. Her soft voice sends shivers down your spine.

While her vocal talent easily puts her in a class above many others, what I loved most about Westenra was the fact that she was not afraid to be herself. Her modesty is honourable, even after everything she has achieved. She defines herself and her music, and is not held back by trying to create an image that is false or copied.

Digital Journal Lifestyle Columnist, Julia Suppa (left), stands with Hayley Westenra after a show in Toronto. — Photo by djc Features

Her album Pure has already catapulted through the Top 10 charts in the U.K where she has gone double platinum; she has gone 10-times platinum in New Zealand; she has performed at a private party for Her Majesty the Queen, Tony Blair, and George W. Bush; and has sang alongside legendary tenor Pavarotti in Edinburgh, Scotland. She will also be performing "Across the Universe of Time" from her debut album Pure on CTV's Canada-AM today.

Westenra is clearly in a league of her own, and I really do find it easy to imagine her as the next Sarah Brightman, or better. She is often introduced as the young woman with a near-flawless voice, and after seeing her, I can say that this, in no way, is an overstatement.


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Thanks to Roger Mansbridge for forwarding the link to this article
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