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Hayley Westenra on a musical `Odyssey'

7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Benaroya Hall, 200 University, Seattle. 206-215-4747. $45-$75. All ages.

This is an exciting time for teenage singer Hayley Westenra. The New Zealand native is riding a wave of good press for her latest CD, ``Odyssey,'' and in keeping with that album's title, she has embarked on a worldwide adventure of her own, performing for appreciative spectators everywhere. This is a year she'll want to savor, but she's so busy working, she barely has an opportunity to write down memories in her diary.

``I have been jotting things down,'' she said by telephone. ``Not as thoroughly as I usually do, but I'm trying to keep track of everything so all the cities don't blur into one. That's the tendency!''Finding her sound

In an effort to keep her concerts from blurring into one, Westenra tweaks song arrangements on a regular basis, making each performance unique.

``We're still experimenting,'' she explained. ``Hopefully we can keep everything fresh, and I'm sure we will be able to. I mean, I'm with a great band and they're all very musical, so I'm free to take musical liberties, and they just follow me. It's really great.

``At the moment, the crowds are all different and the venues are all different, so I'm not having that problem of going, `Where were we yesterday?' Remembering my room number, that's the hardest part. I got lost, trying to find my way back to my room, going, `Oh, gosh!' I managed to remember after going up and down the corridor, going, `I think it's this one!'''Despite such moments of on-the-road confusion, she's especially happy to be touring the United States.

``When I first came to America (in 2004), it was quite a big culture shock. It's very different from New Zealand, but the people were very welcoming so I was keen to come back. I find that the more time I spend here, the more at home I feel. I get to meet more people and have a few more conversations and form a bond. I'm really enjoying my time here.

``Each city's so different from the next. It's exciting. This Il Divo tour is an amazing opportunity to perform in front of some great crowds and discover some new places as well,'' Westenra said.

Warming up Il Divo crowd

As the warmup act for Il Divo, Westenra has a slightly uphill battle in that she's performing for folks who may not have come to hear her. She has to work to win them over. This has prompted her to fine-tune her repertoire. Early reports suggest her methods are working perfectly.

She explained, ``We added a couple of songs to the set. We're not changing it every night, but once we have a little more time to rehearse, we might end up changing numbers. I don't think the set will change drastically, but it'd be fun to try out a few different arrangements of songs while we've got the band. At the moment, in my set, I've got quite a bit of variety in terms of styles. Most of the stuff's off my albums `Pure' or `Odyssey.' I think it makes a really nice set.

``I think you've got to keep it fresh, and you've got to keep yourself on your toes. You've got to make an effort to do that.''

Further proof of this ambition is the fact that Westenra dabbles in pop, folk, gospel and classical. She resists easy definition.

``It is very confusing for people because everything these days is pigeonholed, and it's hard to pigeonhole my music. At the moment, because I'm still discovering so many different styles, I don't want to limit myself just to one. There's so much music out there that I need to hear before I can make up my mind. I am looking at songs for my new album, my next one, but I tend not to focus on choosing songs from a certain style. What I try and do is choose songs that I adore and connect to. You can always make a song your own.''

A Celtic influenceLately, Westenra has begun exploring her family's Irish roots through music. ``I'm getting drawn to that Celtic, folky world,'' she said. ``One song that I include in my set is called `The Mummers' Dance.' It was written by a lady called Loreena McKennitt. My friend actually gave me four of her albums a few years ago, so she's one of my favorites. I buy a lot of compilations of Celtic music, and all sorts, really. Anything I can get my hands on. I think it's important to expose yourself to as much as you can.

``But, I do have Irish blood in me. My great grandmother was Irish, so I think that could have something to do with my leaning toward Celtic music.''Expect her next CD to reflect this interest, as well as all she has learned by singing in foreign lands.

``From traveling, I've been exposed to many different types of music,'' she said. ``For example, I went to Japan. In fact, I went to Japan about seven times last year, and on one occasion, a Japanese orchestra was playing a traditional Indonesian instrument, and there were some African musicians. I was opened up to this whole new world of music that I'd never heard before. If I'd been sitting at home in New Zealand, I doubt I would have come across that mix.

``I think also my experiences have helped me on my path, finding my niche in the musical sort of world. It's definitely helped me.''

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