The Wright notes - Suffolk’s songbird loves coming home
PUBLISHED: 16:07 26 August 2014
There are few better examples of success than singer Laura Wright. Peter Robertson catches up with the ‘Scrummy Soprano’ who never forgets her Suffolk roots
Suffolk soprano Laura Wright has become best-known for singing God Save The Queen before England matches at Twickenham since her appointment in November 2012 as the Rugby Football Union’s official anthem singer.
But the 24-year old been a big noise in the classical music world since the age of 15, when she won the BBC Radio 2 Chorister of the Year award for female voice. She then became a member of quartet All Angels from its formation until June 2010 and performed on three of their albums.
Her debut solo album, The Last Rose, reached No1 on the classical compilation albums chart, and she went on to work with Russell Watson, Alfie Boe, Andrea Bocelli and Gary Barlow. She was selected to record the Diamond Jubilee song, Stronger As One, which The Queen mentioned in her Commonwealth Day message at Westminster Abbey in March 2012 where the song was premiered. Laura was the first soprano to sing at the Olympic Stadium in London and, also in 2012, sung at the ITV Dancing On Ice final and Rugby League Challenge Cup Final.
Already more than enough to satisfy most entertainers, yet Laura – known to the media as ‘the Scrummy Soprano’ because she also plays rugby for Rosslyn Park Ladies team – remains fiercely ambitious.
Laura is an ambassador for Arthritis Research UK, having had her own battle with the debilitating condition at an early age. Yet even that had the green-eyed brigade going. “When you do interviews, you always get a backlash as people like to have an opinion. I did an interview about having septic arthritis when I was young, and someone wrote anonymously a comment claiming a lot of what I’d said was lies, which was very hurtful. That was quite upsetting.
“There are always going to be people and things that stick in your mind, but it just makes me more driven to succeed in what I do. I want to show everyone I can be successful.”
Laura attended Old Buckenham Hall from five to 10, then went to Brandeston Hall until 12 and Framlingham College from 13 to 18.
“I was actually born in Cambridge. We moved to Suffolk about 22 years ago. My parents loved Suffolk and it also meant the school journeys were a little shorter! We’ve lived in two different places in Suffolk. I grew up in a homely cottage where I remember the smell of floor polish all the time as mum ran a bed and breakfast and was very house proud. My parents have lived in their current home for about 15 years so it has some lovely memories.”
“I have such fond memories of my childhood. I was surrounded by my family, animals, and lots of rolling fields. Not a skyscraper in sight! Playing touch rugby with my older brothers in the garden was a Sunday favourite. We all went to the same school, which was a massive privilege, and which my parents worked really hard for – and so did we for a scholarship!”
Laura represented Suffolk at athletics, tennis, hockey and netball. Her love of rugby comes from her three elder brothers, Seamus, 32, Paddy, 29, and Liam, 28, and she likes The Scrummy Soprano nickname.
“I think that’s a lovely nickname. I could be called a lot worse than that.”
The Wright siblings grew up in Framlingham, where their parents still live and where Laura now owns a property.
She has met The Queen several times and has also been chuffed to meet Paul McCartney, Ed Sheeran and her hero Jonny Wilkinson.
“Ed went to the school down the road from me, and I’d love to chat to him about where we grew up. I was just a giggling mess when I met Jonny Wilkinson. He’s my big crush. I have a lot of fun and banter with the players, but keep it strictly professional.”
Laura confides that her last relationship lasted two years and ended two years ago.
“The main reason I’ve not had a boyfriend recently is my work schedule which is so anti-social. I’m still only 24 and I know what I want, which at the moment is my career. I definitely want to get married one day – with a winter wedding at Framlingham church – and to have lots of kids.”
Laura is inspired by her parents’ happy 35-year marriage. Her father Paul is a financial advisor, her mother, Caroline, is a performance artist. Mother and daughter plan to perform together at the Edinburgh Fringe this year.
“I have been offered a couple of acting jobs, but they weren’t really right for me. We had acting lessons at the Royal College [of Music] and that is something I’d like to continue.”
The comparisons with Charlotte Church are inevitable, but Laura says she won’t switch from singing classical to pop.
“The fickleness of the music industry scares me and that’s one of the reasons why I wouldn’t turn to pop, because it can end up being a very short-lived career.”
Laura has already sung in most of Britain’s finest venues, from Wembley Stadium and the Royal Albert Hall to the Houses Of Parliament and Windsor Castle and even The Great Wall Of China. But, while nothing thrills her more than singing the National Anthem at Twickenham, there are few places she’d rather be than back in Suffolk with her family and friends.
“I try to go back at least twice a month. I miss the calm and tranquility, I miss my mum and dad and Boris our dog. I would imagine I’ll end up living back in Suffolk in later life.”