Singing to honour war veterans
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.’’