Singing star Katherine has both feet firmly on the ground
13:35 19 May 2011
She may be one of our most popular classical singers, but rugby loving Welsh soprano Katherine Jenkins (who is performing in Ipswich this summer) has no airs or graces, as Wayne Savage discovered
If the singing ever dries up, Katherine Jenkins can always fall back on her old summer job as a London Eye tour guide. The Welsh mezzo-soprano used to go round ten times a day, pointing out landmarks to tourists while she was studying at The Royal Academy of Music.
If you ever need a guide I can give you a pretty good tour from the air, she assures me, confessing shed need to read up on her facts first. I used to know it by heart and tried to remember what I said recently, but Ive forgotten a lot of it. I did history A-level and Im interested in the history of London so I can give you a little bit of why the monuments are there and stuff like that.
I remember one lady from America looking at Crystal Palace, you know the TV mast, and she said to me wow, I cant believe you can see France from here. She thought it was the Eiffel Tower, she laughs.
The former model a job she admits to not enjoying and freelance singing teacher neednt worry about packing in the day job. Renowned the world over, the 30-year- old from Neath has been showered with awards, multi-platinum record sales and has played at every high profile sporting tournament in the British calendar you can name.
A regular visitor to Suffolk, shell sing The Last Night of the Proms at Christchurch Park on Saturday, July 2, accompanied by the National Symphony Orchestra conducted by Anthony Inglis.
Every time Ive been its just been a lovely evening and a fabulous audience. I love the summer concerts, theyre the most relaxed.
People bring a picnic, a bottle of wine and just enjoy the music and I can really feel that from the stage. Im looking forward to returning, it should be a really fun night.
One of her most high profile visits was performing at the memorial of former England and Ipswich Town boss Sir Bobby Robson. I had met him and Lady Robson at a previous engagement and he was a fan of my music, which I didnt know, so she invited me to perform. I wanted to do whatever I could; it was very emotional, Katherine remembers.
Shes come a long way since performing Rossinis Una Voce Poco Fa for Universal execs after theyd heard her demo tape. Oh my gosh, I was absolutely terrified, but you know I look back now and think you have no idea whats coming, whats ahead.
Within an hour they offered me the six album deal.
It was an amazing moment; I cried all day when I heard. It was said to be the most lucrative in the UKs classical recording history, reportedly worth 1million. It was a big deal. I had this backing from this huge company who had on their roster all the artists I admired. But I think everyone thought overnight I had become the richest woman in Neath, she laughs.
That wasnt really the case; its an amount of money that pays for the albums to be made and all this kind of stuff so it wasnt how it was reported, but career wise it was brilliant.
Years later, Katherine admits there are still moments where shes really surprised how her lifes turned out and the number of people who come to see her perform.
Its crazy, she laughs. But my audience; no matter how stressful the days been nobodys going to interrupt that.
Some performances, though, are more stressful than others such as singing for Barbra Streisand. I was making the album Believe in LA. Completely out the blue I got invited to a party, went along and it was Barbra Streisands birthday. Suddenly everyone was telling me I had to sing, she giggles.
Being a big Barbra fan it was very scary, thinking what is she thinking. She was lovely afterwards.
A huge rugby fan too, Katherine doesnt get to as many games as shed like. I was in Switzerland doing some concerts and one of the Six Nations games was on. I found my way to an Irish bar and sat with everyone else watching. Its sad to be away and sometimes miss all the excitement, she sighs. That mustve made some fans nights.
Everyone was lovely. Im very lucky in that sense and people quickly made room for us to join their table and we had a lovely night; I made some new friends, she laughs.
Concentrating on singing for now, Katherine set to marry former Blue Peter presenter Gethin Jones some time next year hasnt ruled out more acting after last Christmass Doctor Who special.
Before, it was something that quite terrified me, but I really did enjoy it. I would probably consider it, if it was the right thing, if it was music related.
Shes already mentioned her familys importance and her album liner notes mention missing her father Selwyn, who died aged 70 of lung cancer when she was just 15. Katherines dedicated many awards to him. What would he have made of her success?
I think he wouldve loved it. He was very supportive and encouraging. He always made me feel like I could do it so... she trails off briefly. Hes here watching, he knows whats going on.
Katherine Jenkins is in concert at Christchurch Park, Ipswich on July 2 at 7.30pm. Tickets available from Ipswich Regent website or by calling the box office on 01473