Chiswick's classical songbird is flying high

Hayley Westenra wows the crowds at British Lions v All Blacks

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Classical supremo: after conquering her native New Zealand, teenage singer Hayley Westenra became the UK's fastest-selling debut classical artist

Hayley Westenra


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Back home in Chiswick after providing the pre-match entertainment at the All Blacks versus British Lions rugby match in Wellington, 18 year Hayley Westenra is already at the top of her game.

Finding fame three years ago with a haunting, operatic version of Kate Bush's Wuthering Heights, the teenage Kiwi has been performing at prestigious venues like the Sydney Opera House, the Albert Hall and Wembley Arena ever since.

Westenra's debut international album, Pure, went straight in at number eight in the UK pop album charts and at number one in classical charts, making her the fastest-selling debut classical artist of all time, ahead of Charlotte Church, Pavarotti, Andrea Bocelli and Russell Watson.

Speaking to the Hendon Times, she told how she was excited to be back in London.  "I'm pretty used to it now," she says of London. "I have been here for the last three years. I have spent a lot of time in London. I'm very much at home here.

"My mum and my dad are going to join me on my Asian tour. It can be very difficult. I'm on the phone to my family every couple of days. I do have people I can hang out with so I don't feel sorry for myself at all. I'm really enjoying it.

While she had no formal training in music, Westenra grew up playing the violin and piano and at the tender age of six, it became apparent her voice was truly something special. 

She got her first big break after being discovered by a TV journalist whilst she and her sister were busking on the streets of Christchurch, New Zealand.  Her subsequent TV appearance caught the eye of Universal Music New Zealand and a recording deal soon followed.  The rest, as they say, is history.


July 13, 2005