RedHanded meets Katherine Jenkins
When I catch up with Katherine Jenkins she's right in the middle of a photo shoot for another glossy magazine's Christmas edition, part of the whirlwind promotional schedule for her new album, Believe. In the past week she's sung for British soldiers, American footballers and excitable clubbers at G-A-Y. Finally, the photographer packs his equipment away… and it’s my turn with Katherine. ‘I haven’t kept you waiting too long, have I?’ she asks.
Tell me a little bit about making the album Believe.
I went to Los Angeles to record the album with [Grammy Award winning Whitney Houston/Barbra Streisand producer] David Foster. We spent the first week sitting by the piano just brainstorming and talking about pieces of music we loved - it felt like a more organic process, especially compared to my previous albums.
There are a few tracks on Believe that a lot of people wouldn’t have expected to hear, such as Bob Marley's No Woman, No Cry.
It’s my most commercial work to date but I wanted to keep the classical feel. I suggested (Evanescence cover) Bring Me To Life but David didn’t think I could pull it off. It was important for me to prove him wrong!
What can we expect from the live shows next year?
I did an arena tour with (ballerina) Darcey Bussell last year but this will be my first arena tour in my own right. It’s daunting, but at the same time I’m really excited. There will be a lot of material from the new album, but it won’t be a traditional classical concert where it’s just me and an orchestra - it’ll be a lot more theatrical.
With a new record label and producer does it feel like a new chapter for you?
It’s definitely a different phase. I’m really excited about going back to America - it feels like a new lease of life to me.
How important is it for you to break America?
If it doesn’t happen then so be it, but I’m looking forward to the challenge. I think all artists want to break America - there’s a feeling that if you break America then the rest of the world will follow.
Is it your ultimate ambition to be the lead in an opera?
It’s definitely something I want to do, but it’s not my ultimate ambition. I’m not going to pin my career to one particular goal. In saying that though, if it were to happen then it would definitely feel as though I’d come full circle.
Are you a perfectionist?
Definitely. I’ve released seven albums now and they’re available to the wider world. I couldn’t have released something knowing it wasn’t right. I set myself a certain level of standard.
You used to be a teacher - did you have any naughty kids?
I was really lucky to be honest, as the class I had in London was well behaved. All the kids there wanted to sing and I was happy to teach them. I’ve definitely had the nicer experiences of teaching - no naughty kids, sorry. If I was teaching maths it might have been another story!
Do you think your audience demographic is changing?
I think the demographic of classical music has changed as a whole - it’s really encouraging for someone like me. A few years ago people associated classical music with an older audience or people with a lot of money. That’s not the case anymore.
What was it like performing at the London club G-A-Y recently?
Absolutely brilliant. It was totally different for someone like me to perform there and the venue is legendary - you only have to look at the artists that have been there before me. Again it’s about bringing classical music to a wider audience - I’d love to play there again.
You haven’t sung at Welsh rugby games recently - why not?
I’d love to sing at the Millennium Stadium again but it’s not up to me. The new person there (General Manager Gerry Toms) prefers choirs - if they asked me back I’d be there straight away.
Am I right in thinking you are a Swansea City fan? But you sang at the FA Cup final between Portsmouth and Cardiff City. Discuss.
(Thinks for a few seconds) I think it’s important to remain impartial in a situation like that. I’d been asked to sing at a major sporting event and that was an honour. Cardiff is a Welsh team so my support was with them.
What’s on your iPod at the moment?
Too much stuff to mention - Pixie Lott, Take That, Beyonce, Kanye West, Pussycat Dolls, Tinchy Stryder - a really eclectic mix.
There have been rumours in the press recently that you'd like to work with Tinchy Stryder - is it going to happen?
I met Tinchy Stryder a few weeks ago and he’s such an interesting character - a young businessman working on all kinds of projects. A classical-rap collaboration could work.
You performed for troops in Iraq to mainly Welsh soldiers. Was it like a show on home soil?
Whenever I meet the Welsh troops it’s always a special occasion to me and a superb atmosphere. We should never forget the amazing work they do for our country.
When was the last time you spoke Welsh to someone?
That would’ve been a while ago. I did Welsh A-level but since moving to London I’ve lost so much of the language. The problem is I’ve never had anyone to practice with. I want to move back to Wales one day and make my kids speak Welsh - they’ll probably speak it better than I can!
Do you go out in Swansea much these days?
I still venture out into Swansea and my hometown of Neath as much as I can. People in the area are lovely - they might want the odd photo but that’s OK with me. I don’t want that part of my life to ever change.
What’s your poison?
Usually a Malibu and coke - that’s not very classy is it? (Laughs) Not very good for the vocal chords either.
Have you got any plans for your 30th birthday next year?
(Flustered) Everyone seems to know about that!
That’ll be Wikipedia for you Katherine.
I’m not one of those people that think, ‘Oh god, I’m getting to that age!’ I’m really looking forward to it, to be honest. I haven’t got any plans as of yet - I just hope to be a little older and a little wiser.
Find out more at katherinejenkins.co.uk