Exclusive: The Hayley Westenra Interview
Kristiano Ang, Executive Editor
With the Voice Of An Angel - Hayley Westenra
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
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
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
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
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
VT: Do you have any favorite artists
that you listen to?
Joni Mitchell, Alicia Keys, Jose Carreras,
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
I'm recording in February...so 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
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!!
Source (Framed Site - Select
"Be Entertained" from Homepage)