Thursday, October 14th, 2004_

News Menu Button World Exclusive: The Hayley Westenra Interview

By: Kristiano Ang, Executive Editor

Beauty With the Voice Of An Angel - Hayley Westenra

This magazine has a small traditional of interviewing young celebrities that are emerging to fame or making a second attempt to reach the highs that they once knew. For this issue though, we break the traditional mould as we interview someone who is still enjoying the peak (though maybe just not yet) of her fame. Meet Kiwi sensation, Hayley Westenra.

Hayley has been termed, terms beyond number, the beauty with the voice of an angel. Her voice is sparkling clear, as demonstrated in her second album, Pure, and her looks are exquisite. She doesn’t sing much pop, her music is classical. Yet she is clearly a hit around the world, doing numerous talk shows in the United States and tending interviews from numerous newspapers from Australia to Britain.

In 2000 Hayley recorded a demo album, mainly as what she called a "memento". This personal souvenir - just 1000 copies were pressed - unlocked the key to her future. On the day the recording of the CD was completed, Hayley and her younger sister Sophie (both vocalists, violinists and pianists, whilst younger brother Isaac plays the flute) busked in Christchurch. The pair quickly drew an enthusiastic crowd. A woman asked them if they had recorded anything. The young buskers' fan was a journalist with a local television station and Hayley soon appeared on air. The appearance captured the attention of a leading New Zealand concert promoter, Gray Bartlett, and a deal with Universal Music New Zealand soon followed.

The result? Pure.

Consisting of Kiwi songs such as Pokarakare Ana, to the ear-pleasing River Of Dreams, which is sung in English, it has sold over a million copies in around nine months, even though the album has been released in less than 20% of the world. In New Zealand, it is the longest running no. 1 album, having gone 10x platinum there and platinum in Australia. And not to mention singing in front of HRH the Queen of England.

Not bad for a seventeen year old.

Then of course, she is also the youngest ever ambassador for the UNICEF (which Vainquer Teens supports) and also a spokesman for the Save the children campaign in Hong Kong. Add that to an even longer list of singing in front of United States President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Of course, there is also the luminousness of being called “a ton of star quality” by Newsweek and you forget that she’s yet to take her GSCEs.

If I were to describe Hayley’s singing, you’d only get one phrase out of me, “Absolutely sensational”. There’s not much more that I can add to that. The last time I got so excited over a singer, was when Vanessa Carlton (incidentally one of Hayley’s idols) burst into the scene.

Now that you’ve got some background, Vainquer Teens’ Kristiano Ang sits down with Hayley Westenra for a chat.

Vainquer Teens (VT): Hi Hayley, you’ve done quite a bit so far as a teenager, did you expect any success when you first did “Pure”?

I was hoping it would help me get a foothold in countries outside on New Zealand , but I had no idea it would sell as well as it has , I don't think anybody did !

VT: How did you find going to the United States, and doing all the talkshows, like “Good Morning America”, etc.

My first big TV show was GMA, which of course went out live to millions of people, so that was a little overwhelming I guess (plus I was singing at 6am....way to early!), but incredibly exciting. Now I'm spending so much time in the US that it feels like my second home!

VT: You’ve done a 3 million pound record deal with Universal apparently, do your peers view you any differently?

Well, that actually isn't true! As a new artist, you don't just get paid a huge, lump sum; you have to work for it!! My friends don't really take much notice of all the hype...they're excited for me and supportive, but when I'm hanging out with them, it's like nothing ever happened, I'm so lucky to have such great friends who have stuck with me!

VT: What’s your favorite clothing line?

Diesel -I adore their clothes!

VT: We know that Pure is filled with many beautiful songs, but what’s your personal favorite?

Wuthering Heights -I get to become this wild, free-spirited, crazy woman!

VT: You do more classical than pop music, yet the classical world is filled with older singers, like Luciano Pavarotti, etc, so how do you & the Charlotte Churches of the world break that status quo?
I just be myself. I think people appreciate the fact that I don't conform to just one style of music.
My music is just what I like -which is everything from classical to adult pop.
VT: You and Charlotte Church are familiar in so ways, how do you deal with comparisons with her?

I really don't mind. I acknowledge out similarities, but then also point out our differences. We have our own style of music and completely different voices.

VT: Do you have any favorite artists that you listen to?

Joni Mitchell, Alicia Keys, Jose Carreras, Andrea Bocelli

VT: Is there any one in particular that you’d like to worth with, on the Pure Tour or on your second album?

My favourite singer is Jose Carerras -he's fantastic , both as a singer and as a gentleman

VT: Speaking of your second album, have you started working on it, and when will it come out?

I'm recording in I'm assuming next year sometime!

VT: You’re more of a classical star, than a pop singer, how do your fans treat you (assuming that most of them are teenagers after all)?

I've got some great fans and they just seem to be really excited for me. They're very loyal and encouraging.

VT: While your star is definitely growing, do you feel that there is a certain glass ceiling, because you’re young and sing classical, and if so, do you think that this glass ceiling would have existed if you were a pop singer instead?

No, I feel like the sky is the limit!!

VT: New Zealand, is not traditionally ascribed to producing music that actually wows the world, do you expect to put a foot forth for your country’s music?

Definitely. I'm such a proud New Zealander and I love the fact I'm representing my country in the music scene.

VT: Do you have any celebrities that you personally idolize?

Not really idolize, but I do have a lot of respect for Alicia Keyes She has a stunning voice and I admire her for being a great musician , songwriter, as if saying, 'here I am. take it or leave it'. She knows what she wants and is very driven about achieving it. That's a great quality.

VT: And a final question, any last words for your fans?

I'd just like to thank you all for your continuous support. I'm so glad that you are getting pleasure from my music and I hope to meet you all soon on my travels!!


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