When Katherine Jenkins takes to the stage in Norfolk this month, it will be an extra special occasion for the Welsh singing star
Singer Katherine Jenkins
As she prepares for a series of huge outdoor concerts this summer, it won’t just be set lists, rehearsals and glamorous costume changes which will be at the forefront of Katherine Jenkins’ mind.
Having just given birth to her second child, a baby boy called Xander, her planning has taken on a new dimension.
“I think the show at Sennowe Park will probably be one of his first concerts as I will have to bring him along and if I remember back to when my daughter was that little, it is such an emotional experience having your child there for the first time. So it will be a very special show for so many reasons.
“Any mum who’s working is always trying to juggle everything; it takes a lot of forward planning,” says Katherine, who already has two-year-old daughter Aaliyah with husband Andrew Levitas. “Of course, it changes things, but I think for the better. I absolutely love being a mum; it inspires me and gives me huge energy for everything that I do.”
The show, at Sennowe Park near Fakenham, the Edwardian home of Sir Thomas Cook, will see Katherine singing with a full orchestra and she promises lots of surprises.
“I love these open air concerts. They are my absolute favourite things to do as they are so relaxed and you can really feel the atmosphere when you are performing.
“I love looking out to the audience, seeing people with their picnics and a glass of wine, letting the music wash over them. Sometimes, I think, wow, I would quite like to be in that audience instead of here on stage,” she says.
“There will be lots of frock changes, lots of banter and if I haven’t got the crowd waving flags and singing along by the end I don’t think I will have done my job properly. Whether it’s your first classical concert or you are an aficionado, there will be something for you to enjoy.”
Born in South Wales, she discovered her love for singing after joining the local church choir. “Classical music wasn’t played at all at home when I was growing up. My parents were church goers and by the age of seven I was singing three times a week in the church choir. I just fell in love with choral music, the sound of it.
“When I started having singing lessons, my teacher noticed I had certain qualities in my voice, and I remember her introducing me to a few famous classical pieces; one minute I was singing in Italian, then in German, and I loved the thrill of it.”
At the age of 23, having graduated from the Royal Academy of Music, Katherine signed the largest record deal in UK classical recording history with Universal – did she see the pressure as a burden?
“Actually no. I remember my mum saying ‘this doesn’t happen to people from Neath’, but I just never thought past that first album. I saw it as the most incredible opportunity and wasn’t sure I would get another one, so I was driven to make it the absolute best it could be.”
That first album proved to be just the start. She has since performed in iconic venues all over the world alongside some of the biggest names in classical music. She has played to the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, has won numerous awards and accolades and has appeared on countless television shows.
“Whether it’s your first classical concert or you are an aficionado, there will be something for you to enjoy”
She is often described as a crossover star, taking classical music into the mainstream and it is something she is proud to be doing. “I don’t come from a background of classical music or of privilege. Classical music should not be thought of as elitist; it should be for everybody and it upsets me when I think people don’t listen to classical music because they believe it is only for those of privilege. It really isn’t true.”
She has performed several times in the region over the years, from the Sandringham Estate to Thetford Forest, but it was last summer’s appearance at the Latitude Festival, near Southwold which really showed her ability to appeal to a broad audience.
“It was unbelievable. I had never been to Latitude before and the setting on the lake was absolutely magical. I don’t think I have ever shown up for a performance on a gondola before,” she laughs.
“What I loved most though was that so many people actually chose to come and see me when there are just so many different stages to choose from. It was a stand-out memory of the summer.”
Katherine Jenkins, July 28 at Sennowe Park, near Fakenham. Tickets 01603 310999 or outsidelive.co.uk