Katherine Jenkins has redefined Divadom and she has pioneered a new breed of opera superstar. She is glamorous, smiles a lot, is impeccably mannered and accessible. She is a million miles away from the stereotype opera singer - histrionic, frumpy, fat and privileged, and she has outsold them, all of them.
Her first album Premiere made her the fastest selling soprano of all time, She is the only person in musical history to hold the number one and two classical album chart positions with Premiere and Second Nature, and at one point held positions 1, 2, and 3 with the aforementioned and her third album Living A Dream, which also went straight in to the top 5 in the pop charts. In part she seems to channel both Marilyn and Madonna.
“I don’t understand where the stereotype comes from that opera is only for privileged people. I take my concerts all over the UK, go to venues big and small where you wouldn’t expect me. I’ve always done that. Sporting events, all sorts of things and that’s part of me trying to take the music to a wider audience so it’s not just for the 280 pounds a ticket set. My link started off with rugby. I performed before matches. I enjoy the game as well. I enjoy people saying, ‘I came to a rugby match and I don’t know anything about opera but I heard you sing and I want to buy your album.”
There have been two BRIT awards two years running, both for Album of the Year, one for Second Nature and one for Living A Dream. She is the first female artist ever to win two consecutive classical BRIT awards. And now the pressure is on for a third with Serenade. “I put the pressure on myself. I’m a perfectionist and people around me know that. Yes it’s hard to put something out after you’ve been successful because you have to make sure it comes up to my high level of expectation. I set myself a really high goal and I think I’ve achieved that. I’ll be happy.”
‘Serenade’ features one of her favourite songs of all time, her “classicalised” version of Bryan Adams’ Everything I Do. “I like the idea of doing a classical version of a pop song. I did it last time with I Will Always Love You (L’Amore Sei Tu) and I thought I’m going to carry on the theme because I’ve always loved that song. I’ve met Bryan a few times. We’ve performed at different things together. Bryan ended up coming into the studio and playing guitar on the track which was a moment that was such a thrill. I didn’t even tell him that when I was younger Robin Hood Prince of Thieves was a huge favourite and I got my piano teacher to teach it to me.”
Katherine has sung at some of the world’s most prestigious venues such as Westminster Cathedral, the Sydney Opera House, the Albert Hall and the Millennium Stadium which is like a second home to her. During the Rugby World Cup in 2003 she was announced as the official mascot for the Welsh Rugby Team and performed their official song - Bread of Heaven.
It may seem as if Katherine’s rise has been meteoric. School teacher to superstar within months. “It doesn’t feel like that to me because I’ve been singing since I was four.” After she left London’s Royal Academy of Music she used to boost her earnings as a hair and make up model, always dramatically photogenic but never tempted into that type of a career. “I hated waiting around all day and it was boring.” She enjoyed being a freelance singing teacher in Hertfordshire while she was funding her postgraduate studies. She was signed to Universal in 2003.
She has just been made the international face of Mont Blanc, the ultimate pen company who are about to launch a new range of handbags and jewellery.