Katherine Jenkins: Seoul Singer

(Korea Herald)

Often considered the next Sarah Brightman, British mezzo-soprano Katherine Jenkins is a sensation in the classical music industry. The 29-year-old is not new to Korea. She impressed the audience when she sang duets with Placido Domingo at the latter’s Seoul concert last year. Jenkins, who had visited Korea for the first time, said the audience’s response to her performance was a pleasant surprise.

“I loved everything about the concert. The audience was incredible – excited and cheering like at a pop concert. One of my best memories is of Placido and I singing a Korean song as the encore. Every time we finished a verse, the audience erupted into applause. I hope my pronunciation was correct,” Jenkins said in an e-mail interview with The Korea Herald.

Last month, the mezzo-soprano released her crossover album titled “Believe”. Her seventh recording is the first to be released in Korea. The recording was produced by none other than David Foster who has discovered numerous artists including Celine Dion and Josh Groban. It carries familiar tunes including “I Believe”, which Jenkins sings with Andrea Bocelli, “La Vie en Rose” and “Till There Was You”.

“This is by far my most commercial sounding album. It was a dream for me to make a record with David Foster and we wanted to make something that used popular songs but still made people feel like they are having a classical experience,” she said. Jenkins also said that she intended to sing such well-known songs in her own style to give a classical mood, which is part of her efforts to make opera more accessible. The singer also discussed her view on crossover music, which strong supporters of orthodox classical music do not accept.

“Crossover artist, to me, means someone who can sing the traditional classical pieces and is also interested in popular things, too,” she said, adding that people like Domingo and Pavarotti were the first of such artists who took opera to massive sporting events and made it popular. Jenkins said she, as a crossover artist, will keep singing both pop repertoires as well as classical pieces in the future.

Jenkins started singing at a choir and later went on to study at the Royal Academy of Music. Jenkins was selected “The Face of Wales” in 2000 and did some modelling to pay off her bills and tuition. Good looks probably also had a role in Jenkins quickly gaining fame after her debut in 2004. She has sold over 3 million copies of “Premiere” and “Second Nature” – which were released in the same year. The attention to her looks, however, does not always work positively for her, Jenkins said. “In the classical world, if you look a certain way, like I do, then people question your talent and think it’s all about beauty. I try to use it in a positive way and try to introduce some glamour to the opera world,” she said.

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