A
 
Web www.artsmart.co.za
A R T S M A R T
arts news from kwazulu-natal

miscellaneous news
www.artsmart.co.za
enquiries@artsmart.co.za
 A current news
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
letters to the editor
home page
archives A
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
 

NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

MUSINGS OF A MEANDERING MIND #30 (article first published : 2007-02-7)

Thanks to the beneficence of my darling Uncle Frank (about whom I wrote in my last column – and, by the way, during 2007 I shall be writing monthly rather than fortnightly) I had the pleasure of spending part of this past Festive Season not only watching a whole bunch of delightful DVDs received in my annual Christmas-and-Birthday parcel but also one truly fantastic CD, namely Living a Dream. Duration just over one hour, it features the amazing voice of this stunning blonde who, just three years ago, was an unknown music graduate, teaching singing at three London comprehensives in the hopes of funding a postgraduate degree. Then, almost overnight, everything changed for this 26-year-old blonde from Neath who’s fast winning a fan-base of all ages.

First came a six-album record deal from Universal Classics, reputed to be worth a million pounds! Following that, a brace of Brit awards for Classical Album of the Year for her recordings of famous arias, hymns and folk songs. Then came appearances at the Live 8 concerts in London and Berlin, where a quarter of a million people stood rapt as she sang, sans accompaniment, Amazing Grace. This item is included on the album in question where each piece is recorded with The Prague Symphonia and some numbers supported by the magnificent Rudolfus Choir.

After that came performances at the G8 Summit, the Tsunami Concert and the VE Day commemorations, where she received major press cover in Britain due to her appeal for her legions of fans to support Poppy Day. She’s quoted as saying, “The more you hate the fools’ war in Iraq, the more you should give”, adding that “politicians who condemned their betters to death and injury should be jeered if they dare wear them!”

Now, to titillate your interest in the album in question, let me tell you that it begins with THE most delightful rendering of the number made popular by Whitney Houston but actually written and first sung by Dolly Parton, namely I Will Always Love You, and that’s followed by the moving I Vow to Thee My Country. Other delights are One Fine Day, Over the Rainbow, Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep, the Vera Lynn classic We’ll Meet Again, Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s Music of the Night, and my personal favourite, Cinema Paradiso. (Josh Groban also gives a superb rendering of this number on his first, eponymous, album.)

I was also delighted by the FULL version of All Things Bright and Beautiful (I’d only been taught the first couple of verses at school some five and a half decades ago). And what classical album would be complete without the well-loved Nessun Dorma? And those are just SOME of the delights to be found on Living a Dream.

Svelte and voluptuous, this gorgeous blonde would appear to be the epitome of the dream of a fantasizing cartoonist, with impressive curves and a smile as glittering as her diamond earrings. Yet she is also “unusually natural”, write the critics, with a delicious sweetness and purity in the higher registers of her voice, which won her the accolade of Choirgirl of the Year in Wales at the tender age of ten.

This delightfully natural female relates how, at the age of just four, she entered a talent show at school with the silly-sounding song Down the Garden to Eat Worms, earning both laughter and applause. Then, almost 20 years later, she sent off the demo tape to Universal Classics which resulted in her being summoned for an audition. This brought the aforementioned six-album record deal for this young woman who had sung in her church choir for ten years (head chorister for seven), been voted Choirgirl of the Year more than once, sung solos in concerts with almost every male-voice choir in the land, won a modelling competition as The Face of Wales, scored nine A-level grades in her GCSEs (just two weeks after the passing of her beloved father), passed four A-levels at the age of 17, and won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music, where she trained for four years.

Most singers take special care of their voice before giving a show but this young lady’s self-discipline appears almost monastic in its dedication. No mere salt-water gargles or steam-treatments here. She relates how, before an important concert at Hampton Court, she didn’t speak for a full 20 hours and that, where possible, she stretches this to 36 because she doesn’t ”like the idea of letting people down because I didn’t do all I could to perform at my best”!

It appears to come naturally to her to consider other people and do what she can for them. When she discovered that no-one was visiting the Chelsea Hospital to sing to the Chelsea Pensioners she went along to entertain them and relates how she sang them all the old war-songs for an hour and then “I bought them all a pint to keep them happy!”

This caring attitude extends to charity work, too, and she’s fast winning a reputation as the newfound “Forces’ Sweetheart”, with a visit to sing for the troops in the field in Basra just before Christmas, which she describes as “one of the best days of my life”, and telling of plans to visit Afghanistan or Kosovo in the near future in a tone which would make you think she was entertaining the idea of a trip to the Bahamas!

Laughter comes easily to this luscious-looking female who admits to enjoying a spot of comedy in her life in between the hard work, stating she probably inherits this trait from her dad, who she described as “a very funny man”. She sadly lost her father to lung cancer after the rapid onset of his illness when she was a tender 15 years of age. She admits that, with each performance she gives, she’s wanting to do her best for him and that, before going on stage, she has “a little word” with her father along the lines of “Come on, Dad: let me do well here.” Well, this father may well be very proud indeed of just what an unusually special young woman his highly talented daughter is! - Bev Pulé




 A current news
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
letters to the editor
home page
archives A
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
a co-production by caroline smart services and .durbanet. site credits
copyright © subsists in this page. all rights reserved. [ edit ] copyright details  artsmart