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Tuesday, September 24th, 2004
Backstage with Hayley Westenra
A Kiwi Songstress Lives The American Dream

Hayley Westenra

Hayley Westenra, New Zealand's newest diva-in-training, is ready for her close-up.

"I'm a lot less nervous about today than I am when I have to perform at a school assembly in front of people I know," says the Kiwi cutie as she walks onto the Hollywood set of American Dreams. Just a few hours of costume, makeup, and vocal warm-ups later she'll portray a '60s café singer on the season's second episode (Oct. 3, 8 p.m. EST on NBC). She has transformed "Who Painted The Moon Black?" from her contemporary classical debut, Pure, into a more mellow folk song befitting the show's vintage era.

Get a glimpse at what really goes on behind the scenes of the show and see Hayley's transformation from modern girl to 60s siren! Plus: Hear a few a cappella verses of her song!


Hayley Westenra
"Still, today is huge for me. Getting on American Dreams is the first big thing I've done (in the U.S). I probably feel less nervous because everyone is so nice on the set. I've also been practicing a lot and am basically playing me in '60s clothes."

Or maybe it's because the 17 year old has already wowed the likes of President Bush and the Queen of England with her pitch-perfect pop-meets-classical tracks. "Cool people," according to Hayley, but it's Orlando Bloom she really wishes would catch her act. "He's quite cute. I can't believe he was in New Zealand for years making Lord of the Rings and I never bumped into him."

In truth, Haley was the one hiding out. She doesn't mess around when it comes to practicing. At six years old, Hayley discovered singing as her calling and charged ahead without a shield to stardom. "I played the Littlest Star in the school Christmas production and was given a solo. I just kept at it, doing musicals, voice training, learning to play violin and piano, and eventually I got to make a record and travel to all these places to sing. All of my dreams are now coming true."

Fortunately, her friends and family haven't let the success go to Haley's head. "(My friends) don't treat me any differently when I go home. We talk about normal stuff like guys and clothes."

And although she can afford a much nicer pair of jeans now and "even shoes to go with them," the job does have some drawbacks. "I get quite homesick. I miss my cockatiel Zack. I have to take a lot of scary rides with New York cab drivers and eat a lot of gross airline food, like those overly salty pretzels. We go from one hotel to another and I don't really meet people my own age or have time for dating. But it's worth sacrificing, and there's time for all of that later."

Perhaps when Orlando is single again?


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