Hayley Westenra Biography
Hayley Westenra’s debut international album Pure has become the best selling debut album in the history of the UK classical album charts taking only 1 week to reach Gold status (100,000). A fact that has done nothing to change the easy going, down to earth nature of the sixteen year old from Christchurch, New Zealand, known for her extraordinarily “Pure” voice.
Only a few weeks earlier, Hayley appeared at Bryn Terfel’s Faenol Festival in Wales, receiving a standing ovation for her solo performance of two Maori songs, and a sensational rendition of “Ave Maria”, sung with Bryn and Jose Carreras. But the story really started over ten years earlier when she danced and sang the lead role in her school play at the age of six.
After this play Hayley's school teacher informed her parents that she was “pitch-perfect” and advised her to take up an instrument to help encourage her musical talents. A talent most likely inherited from her grandparents who were well known singers and musicians on the radio and in the pubs across New Zealand, a tradition in itself which can be traced back to the family’s arrival in the country in the 1850’s on one of the first four boats to arrive, with her great grandparents having emigrated from Wales and Scotland, and her grandmother from Ireland.
From here on in Hayley's parents, Jill and Gerald, facilitated her interest in ballet, violin and singing lessons. They soon enlisted the help of opera legend Dame Malvina Major who became teacher and mentor to Hayley. Hayley has two younger siblings, Sophie and Isaac, who also posses strong musical talent and it was whilst busking with them in Christchurch at the age of eleven that Hayley was “discovered “ by a local TV journalist. With the money from busking, and a loan from a family friend, the family produced and pressed up to a thousand copies of what was to become Hayley’s first album.
It was on the strength of this album that Hayley was then signed to Universal Records in New Zealand. Her second album reached number one in the New Zealand pop charts, and brought the attention of Decca Records in London who signed Hayley to a worldwide deal and released her debut international album Pure.
Hayley sees herself as primarily a classical performer, but she does not wish to put herself into a stylistic corner, and on PURE she explores the worlds of quality pop, traditional Maori choral singing, and gives a new freshness to well-known classical repertoire. The album's producer Giles Martin enrolled a number of people to help Hayley achieve this, including his father, legendary Beatles producer Sir George Martin, all of whom contributed in achieving the album's unique appeal.
Pure has been a sales success in every country that has so far released it. It has already made history in New Zealand by becoming the best selling artist ever in New Zealand and has turned 10x Platinum. In Australia it has reached Gold and it is over 2x Platinum status in the UK. In the run up to Christmas, Hayley's busy schedule includes a number of appearances at the Royal Albert Hall, including the Concert of Remembrance, the Sergent Cancer Trust Christmas Concert, and again as special guest performing alongside Jose Carreras. Hayley will also be leading the Amnesty International Christmas Concert in London's Trafalgar Square, singing on the prestigious Royal Variety Show in the UK, and appearing on the UK's Parkinson Christmas Day Special. Who knows where it will end?
Hayley's plans for the first half of 2004 include a live tour of New Zealand, Australia and the UK, the release of PURE in North America, sitting her GCSE exams in London, and making time to further develop her role as the youngest ever Ambassador to UNICEF.
Hayley Westenra Bio from Discogs
Born: 10 April 1987 in Christchurch, New Zealand.