Singing to honour war vet­er­ans

Eastern Courier - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - TARANNUM SHAIKH

Clas­si­cal cross­over singer Re­becca Nel­son is set to be­come a house­hold name with her de­but al­bum, Pop­pies & Po­hutukawa, re­leas­ing this Fri­day.

Her Sony Music al­bum com­prises of com­mem­o­ra­tive songs about war, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Royal New Zealand Navy Band and the Christchurch Boys’ Choir.

At 20 she moved to Ire­land and be­gan busk­ing, later shift­ing to the United King­dom.

It was when she re­turned to New Zealand and con­tin­ued busk­ing that she was dis­cov­ered by the head of the Royal NZ Navy Band in 2013.

Since then, Nel­son has re­ceived an abun­dance of ex­clu­sive op­por­tu­ni­ties, in­clud­ing per­form­ing for and meet­ing Prince Charles and Prince Harry.

She also sang in France at the 100-year com­mem­o­ra­tion of the Bat­tle of Somme last year and is a reg­u­lar per­former at All Blacks test matches.

Nel­son’s singing story be­gan at the ten­der age of 12 when her grand­mother in­tro­duced her to mu­si­cals.

‘‘I fell in love with Shirley Jones, Judy Gar­land and Julie An­drews,’’ she says.

Her in­spi­ra­tion lifted when she saw the suc­cess of her peers Hay­ley Westenra and Char­lotte Church.

‘‘I thought ‘it would be in­cred­i­ble for me to do that one day’.’’

The record­ing con­tract with Sony Music is a dream come true for Nel­son.

‘‘I’ve been able to achieve one of my largest goals that I set when I was 15. To have done that, it’s huge.’’

On the heels of her al­bum re­lease, she’s tour­ing Ry­man re­tire­ment com­plexes around the coun­try, in­clud­ing singing at the Bruce McLaren Re­tire­ment Vil­lage in Chapel Road on April 10.

‘‘I did a Ry­man tour last year. They seem to re­ally en­joy it, which is great. I go around a few of them to give them an op­por­tu­nity to hear the songs live, be­fore a lot of peo­ple do.’’

Nel­son, 29, says she’s pas­sion­ate about keep­ing the songs, sto­ries and mem­o­ries of de­fence force vet­er­ans alive.

‘‘There was one vet­eran that I met in Whangarei and he says when I started singing White Cliffs of Dover, he re­mem­bered the day that he got off the ship in Lon­don.

‘‘It’s stuff like that where you go ‘oh wow!’ It’s nice for them to re­live their happy mo­ments and re­mem­ber peo­ple that were part of their lives as well.’’

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