Living the dream
Price, Western Mail
SHE answers the door to her apartment looking every
inch the celebrity. Her long, blonde mane has been teased
to perfection, her make-up is expertly applied and she's
wearing a stylish powder blue off-the-shoulder top and
matching short skirt - you just can't help but take
it all in.
a huge smile on her face, a bare-footed Katherine
Jenkins ushers me inside.
The North London home she
shares with her songwriter boyfriend Steve Hart, who
was once in boy band Worlds Apart, is immaculate - all
cream walls and sumptuous pale carpets.
She takes me to the first
floor living room, which leads to a decked balcony complete
with a hot tub and views of central London.
With such a glamorous lifestyle,
it's hard to believe that just two years ago, the mezzo
soprano from Neath was living life like any other typical
But since graduating from
the Royal Academy of Music in July 2002, her career
has taken off at record speed.
Earlier this year she signed
a £1m recording contract with Universal Classics,
which was the largest deal for a new artist in UK classical
she has a diary packed full of engagements, including
a series of shows in Las Vegas next summer, and she
has celebrity friends like New Zealand's teenage singing
export Hayley Westenra.
Her voice is obviously
the main reason for her overwhelming success but Katherine
also has that other vital ingredient loved by the music
industry - glamour.
For concerts and showbiz
events she turns up in long, designer gowns - for this
year's Bafta Cymru Awards she wore a revealing £8,000
dress borrowed from celebrity designer Bruce Oldfield.
So does she ever slob around
in faded track suit bottoms and scuffed trainers?
"When I'm at home
I wear no make-up - I like to be completely relaxed,"
"I wear track suit
bottoms and my hair is tied back."
She works with a stylist
for major events - although she will never wear anything
she doesn't like.
"I'm quite strong-minded
about my clothes. I don't like people telling me what
"I don't think clothes
have to be by a designer - some of my clothes are designer
and some aren't.
"I know instantly
if I see a stage dress - I like long dresses for performing.
I generally like bright clothes or something that's
just a bit unusual. Performance is about image as well
With her stunning looks,
the 24-year-old has in the past been described as the
Kylie Minogue of classical music.
But Katherine is adamant
that she would never follow in the Australian's footsteps
and become a pop singer.
"It's not me. I feel
like I've really trained hard and it's important to
stay true to yourself," she says. "I'm not
really interested in pop - I like everyone else doing
it but it's not me."
Instead, she is keen on
becoming the female answer to Bryn Terfel. "Maybe
in six or seven years I would like to combine full-scale
operas with recording, like Bryn does - he's got the
balance exactly right."
Katherine's rapid rise
to fame has certainly been the stuff of fairytales.
A year ago, most people
didn't know her name but today, with a chart-topping
debut album under her belt, she's often stopped by fans,
particularly when she returns to Wales to see her mother
Katherine's father Selwyn
died when she was just 15 and mother and daughter enjoy
a close relationship.
"I went for dinner
recently with my mum in Cardiff Bay and I forgot that
people may recognise me," she smiles, looking slightly
"Everyone who passed
me was saying, 'It's Kath!' and people were coming up
and asking me to sign napkins. It was strange but really
nice. Mum was laughing - she thought it was hilarious.
I think it proves to her that I'm doing well."
Although her fans are all
ages, she has many young male admirers.
So has she had any marriage
"Not yet!" she
laughs. "I don't think I get any attention like
that - but I'm not looking for it."
Her younger sister Laura,
22, who recently graduated from Cardiff University,
was travelling when Katherine released her debut album
Premiere in April and she is amazed to suddenly have
a famous sibling.
"She got back and
all this had happened. My mum's still showing her the
endless newspaper cuttings."
believes her success stems from her singing the national
anthem at the Millennium Stadium in August 2003 before
the Wales v England World Cup warm-up. (Check
it out HERE)
"It gave me the chance
to sing to so many people and represent Wales,"
she says. "When I was asked to do it, it felt like
a dream come true. I only had a couple of weeks to prepare
and was actually really panicking as it was my first
public performance after signing the record deal so
I felt I really needed to impress."
She certainly impressed
the crowd and from there she toured with Aled Jones.
The day the tour ended, she flew to Australia to perform
at Sydney Opera House with Max Boyce as part of the
Rugby World Cup celebrations.
"I don't know how
I kept going because the jet lag was terrible,"
she says. "I didn't see any of the sights of Sydney
- only the views I could see from the hotel window.
So I went to Australia and didn't see a thing!"
of all of the highlights of the last year, which include
supporting Sir Cliff Richard during his tour, singing
with Hayley Westenra in New York and performing at the
Millennium Stadium, Katherine says her greatest moment
was topping the classical album chart with Premiere
for seven weeks. It also entered the pop album chart
at number 31.
"I cried my eyes out
when I heard. I had stayed in and made a Sunday roast
and had a few friends round to take my mind off it.
I had a call from my manager to say it was number one
and I just burst out crying."
Although it's just six
months since she released Premiere, Katherine has already
recorded a follow-up, Second Nature, which will be released
on October 18.
The new album is more opera
based and Katherine will perform some famous tenor arias,
As far as her success is
concerned, Katherine admits she's still pinching herself.
"I never imagined
it would come so quickly - I was in the right place
at the right time and had a lot of good luck."
to mention those good looks and a voice like velvet.