Hayley Westenra

Hayley Westenra

Infobox musical artist
Name = Hayley Westenra

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Background = solo_singer
Born = birth date and age|df=yes|1987|4|10
Died =
Origin = Christchurch, New Zealand
Instrument = Vocals, Piano, Guitar
Voice_type = Soprano
Genre = Classical, Pop, Celtic, Operatic pop
Occupation = Singer
Years_active = 2000 - Present
Label = Universal New Zealand Decca Records
Associated_acts = Celtic Woman
URL = [http://www.hayleywestenra.com HayleyWestenra.com]

Hayley Dee Westenra (born 10 April 1987 in Christchurch, New Zealand)cite book |title=Hayley Westenra: In Her Own Voice |first= Hayley |last=Westenra |publisher=Virgin Books Ltd |location=London |year=2007 |isbn=978-1-905264-20-9] cite web |url=http://library.christchurch.org.nz/Music/Profiles/HayleyWestenra/ |title=Hayley Westenra |work=Christchurch City Libraries |accessdate=2007-08-26] is a New Zealand soprano of Irish heritage. Her first internationally released album, "Pure", reached #1 on the UK classical charts in 2003 and has sold more than two million copies worldwide. Westenra has received awards for her contribution to music, both in New Zealand and elsewhere.

"Pure" is the fastest-selling international début classical album to date, and Westenra became an international star, aged 16, when the first of her international albums was released. In August 2006, Westenra joined the Irish group Celtic Woman and toured with them on their 2007 Spring Tour.

Westenra has performed for dignitaries around the world. She is the youngest UNICEF Ambassador to date and has contributed to charities around the world.


Early life

Westenra's parents, Jill and Gerald Westenra, have two other children, Sophie and Isaac. The family has a history of music: Westenra's grandmother Shirley Ireland was a singer, and her grandfather was a pianist who also played the piano accordion.cite video |title=Hayley Westenra: Live from New Zealand |medium=DVD |year=2005 |publisher=Universal Music]

Her pursuit of a musical career began at the age of six, when she was cast in the lead singing role of "Little Star" in the Christmas play at her school, Cobham Intermediate.cite news |url=http://www.classicalx.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=895 |title=Cobham music wing named for Hayley |work=The Press NZ |date=2007-04-24 |accessdate=2007-08-26] After the show, a teacher who had watched the performance approached her parents to tell them that their daughter was pitch perfect. The teacher encouraged Westenra to learn how to play a musical instrument to improve her abilities, and she duly learned to read music and play the violin, piano, and recorder. She began voice lessons and discovered a passion for musical theatre. By age 11, she had performed more than 40 times on stage but was often given male parts: "I got boy parts quite often. In ballet, there were not enough boys. So they ended up choosing half and half. I got chosen to wear the grey suit and the wig, and not the pretty dresses. In "A Christmas Carol," I was Tiny Tim, so I got to be quite a sick, sick boy. There was a severe lack of singing boys and, at the time, it was quite disappointing."cite news |url=http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/03/03/entertainment/main1367468.shtml |title=Hayley Westenra: Teen Angel |work=CBSNews.com |first=Ellen |last=Crean |date=2006-03-03 |accessdate=2007-01-11]

At the age of 12, Westenra entered a professional recording studio to record "Walking in the Air", a demo album originally created for friends and family; only about 1000 copies were made. Some time later, after finishing her album, both Westenra and her sister, Sophie, busked in Christchurch. The pair drew a large crowd, and one woman asked the girls if they had ever recorded anything. The woman turned out to be a journalist with Canterbury Television, and she asked Westenra to appear on air.cite news |url=http://www.hayley-westenra-international.com/dhtml-pages/html-2004/news/20040327_Hayley%20Westenra%20-%20Kiwi%20Star%20Impresses%20The%20World.htm |title=Hayley Westenra: Kiwi Star Impresses the World |work=Billboard 15 (3) |first=Paul |last=Sexton |format=Reprint |coauthors=Christie Eliezer, Anastasia Tsioulcas |date=2004-03-27 |accessdate=2006-12-13]

A concert promotion company, under the direction of Gray Bartlett, watched the show and became interested in working with Westenra. Shortly after this, she was offered a recording deal with Universal New Zealand before she met any representatives of the company.cite news |url=http://www.boston.com/ae/music/articles/2004/07/04/at_17_new_zealand_soprano_has_a_voice_to_be_reckoned_with/ |title=At 17, New Zealand soprano has a voice to be reckoned with |work=The Boston Globe |first=Joan |last=Anderman |date=2004-07-04 |accessdate=2007-03-02] On this label, Westenra released a self-titled album of show tunes and light classical songs, as well as "My Gift to You", a CD of Christmas music. Following the success of her albums, she was offered and later received lessons from Dame Malvina Major.

International success

Although her albums were quite successful in New Zealand, Westenra was unknown worldwide until she landed a contract with Decca Records and recorded "Pure", a CD of classical, light pop, and traditional Māori songs. Decca's UK president was also impressed with her voice when they signed her to the label, saying that she was "captivated by the beauty and expressiveness of her voice."cite news |title=Teen-age Classics |work=Billboard 41 (1) |first=David |last=McNickel |date=2002-02-16 |accessdate=2006-12-13] "Pure" enjoyed record success: it became the fastest-selling international debut album in the history of the UK classical charts, sold 19,068 copies in its first week alone, quickly reached #1 on the UK chart, and entered the UK Pop Chart at #8.cite web |url=http://www.bbc.co.uk/shropshire/content/articles/2005/11/28/hayley_westenra_abbey_preview_feature.shtml |title=Hayley Westenra returns to Abbey... |work=BBC Entertainment |accessdate=2007-08-11] Over two million copies of "Pure" have been sold. In New Zealand, "Pure" has been certified 10x platinum, making her the best-selling artist, regardless of genre, in the country's history.cite press release |url=http://www.performingarts.ufl.edu/programs/Hayley%20Westenra.pdf |title=Teenage songstress Hayley Westenra brings gorgeous classical crossover music to the Phillips Center |publisher=University of Florida Performing Arts |format=PDF |date=2006-03-03 |accessdate=2006-03-22]

"Pures success ensured that Decca would take Westenra seriously. Some of her fame today can be directly attributed to the way in which Decca promoted her. Although the traditional audience of classical crossover music is that of adult women, they also promoted her music to children and teenagers.cite news |url=http://www.hayley-westenra-international.com/dhtml-pages/html-2004/news/20040327_Hayley%20Westenra%20-%20In%20Hailing%20Distance%20Of%20US%20Debut.htm |title=In Hailing Distance Of U.S. Debut |format=Reprint |work=Billboard 15"' (2) |first=Anastasia |last=Tsioulcas |date=2004-03-27 |accessdate=2006-12-13] Westenra recorded the end-title song for Disney's movie "Mulan II".cite video |title=Mulan II |people=Rooney, Darrell (Director) and Lynne Southerland |publisher=The Walt Disney Company |year=2004] They also featured her in the national Radio Disney music education tour for middle-school students. David Horn, the producer of her live TV special which aired on PBS' Great Performances, said, "Her singing is so gorgeous, it's reminiscent of the great boy-soprano sound of Anglican church choirs." This special was entitled, "Hayley Westenra: Live from New Zealand".cite web |url=http://www.pbs.org/wnet/gperf/shows/westenra/ |title=Hayley Westenra: Live from New Zealand |work=PBS |accessdate=2006-12-13]

Decca has also promoted Westenra on television. She took her first acting role on the US programme "American Dreams" ("Charade"), where she played guitar and sang "Who Painted the Moon Black?".cite episode |title=Charade |series=American Dreams |serieslink=American Dreams |airdate=2004-10-03 |season=2 |episode=46 |network=NBC] While she was being promoted in Los Angeles, California, Marc Johnston, senior VP/GM for the Universal Classics Group, said, "When she was out there, people were giving her scripts to read, and she had a few rather impromptu auditions. So some film and TV roles are currently in the works." In 2005, she was featured in the song "Bridal Ballad" recorded for the movie "The Merchant of Venice".cite video |title=The Merchant of Venice |publisher=Sony Pictures Entertainment |year=2004 |people=Radford, Michael (Director)] In 2006, she was featured on the motion picture soundtrack for "The New World" for the song "Listen to the Wind".

Westenra was the 2004 Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards winner of "Highest Selling New Zealand Album" and "International Achievement Award"cite web |url=http://www.nzmusicawards.co.nz/awards2006/history2004.html |title=Winners 2004 |work=NZMusicAwards.co.nz |accessdate=2007-04-15 ] On 20 February 2004, Prime Minister Helen Clark awarded her for being the first New Zealand artist to receive the tenfold platinum status in the New Zealand market, where she held the number one artist position for 18 weeks. She has won two Japanese Grammies for her work (Song of the Year, "Amazing Grace" and Album of the Year, "Pure"). Also in 2004, she began her world tour of New Zealand, Australia, Japan, and the UK, performing in a concert in November for Her Majesty The Queen, Prime Minister Tony Blair, Prince Charles, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice and President George W. Bush.cite news |title=Can't Stop the Music |work=Women's Wear Daily |first=Nandini |last=D'Souza |coauthors=Venessa Lau |date=2004-04-29 |accessdate=2006-12-13] . In her autobiography, she remembered feeling more nervous in her audition, where she sight read an unreleased piece to Andrew Lloyd Webber that he had written. Her successful career was again bolstered at the Sydney Opera House where she received a rare standing ovation.cite web |url=http://www.hayleywestenra.com/biog.htm |archiveurl=http://web.archive.org/web/20050305054202/http://www.hayleywestenra.com/biog.htm |accessdate=2005-07-05 |archivedate=2005-07-03 |title=Biography |work=HayleyWestenra.com ] She concluded 2004 with a successful Christmas tour of the east coast of the United States as guest soloist with the Boston Pops Orchestra.cite web |url=http://www.hayleywestenra.com/hayley-westenra-biography.htm |title=Biography |work=HayleyWestenra.com |accessdate=2006-12-13]

In 2005, she released a new album called "Odyssey". A mix of classical, pop, Celtic, and new age music, she co-wrote and arranged some of the tracks on the album, which was released in the United States on 18 October 2005. A more recent version of "Odyssey" containing several recordings not on the original album was released in the United Kingdom on 10 April 2006, her 19th birthday. To conclude 2005, she made an appearance on Kurt Browning's programme "Gotta Skate", which aired on 18 December, in which she performed with Andrea Bocelli.cite video |title=Kurt Browning's Gotta Skate 2005 |publisher=NBC |medium=Television production |date=December 18 2005]

Westenra spent the first half of 2006 performing as a supporting act for the pop-opera quartet Il Divo on a worldwide tour, though in March she performed solo concerts in the U.S. as well. That tour officially ended in June, but was then extended by six performances. She then held several concerts in the UK and Germany through the end of the northern summer.cite web |url=http://www.hayleywestenra.com/hayley-westenra-news.htm |title=News |work=HayleyWestenra.com |accessdate=2006-04-13] On 5 September 2006, Westenra was named as one of the ten outstanding young people in the world by the Junior Chamber International."Hayley Westenra 'outstanding young person of the world'", The New Zealand Herald, 2006-09-05. Lexis Nexis. Susquehanna University. 4 January 2008.] On 13 November 2006 she participated in the dedication of the New Zealand War Memorial in London.cite news |url=http://www.nzherald.co.nz/search/story.cfm?storyid=00046269-312D-1556-AD7E83027AF1010F |title=Queen, Blair, Clark at opening of NZ memorial |work=New Zealand Herald |first=Andy |last=Macdonald |date=2006-11-12 |accessdate=2007-04-15] Three of Westenra's great-uncles served in World War II, one was killed.

After releasing "Pure", Westenra and her family moved to London. She continues to live in a central London flat, even though her family subsequently returned home to Christchurch. Although she spent most of 2006 touring, she did visit them when her schedule allowed.cite web |url=http://www.hayleywestenra.com/newsletter/march_2006.html |title=March 2006 Newsletter |work=HayleyWestenra.com |accessdate=2006-04-13]

Beyond her initial success

In August 2006, Westenra joined Celtic Womancite web |url=http://www.celticwoman.com/viewSection.asp?idSection=211 |title=September 06 |work=CelticWoman.com |accessdate=2007-02-13] and is featured on their second major DVD/CD album, "", which was released 30 January 2007 and immediately hit the Billboard Top 200 music chart at #4.cite web |url=http://www.billboard.com/bbcom/charts/chart_display.jsp?g=Albums&f=The+Billboard+200 |title=The Billboard 200 |work=Billboard |accessdate=2007-02-15] She toured with the group in the United States in 2007, with scheduled appearances in 88 venues across the country; the tour ended in June of the same year.cite web |url=http://www.celticwoman.com/viewSection.asp?idSection=187&id=tour |title=US Tour Dates |work=CelticWoman.com |accessdate=2007-04-15] cite web |url=http://www.celticwoman.com/viewSection.asp?idSection=203 |title=News |work=CelticWoman.com |accessdate=2007-08-11]

Westenra's third international album, "Treasure", was released on 26 February 2007 in the UK. All the songs on this CD were chosen by Westenra, who gave her record company "no say in the matter. I basically didn't let them in on what I was recording until the last minute so they had no choice. I didn't give them much room to disagree.""Hayley Westenra in charge of her career", The New Zealand Herald, 2007-04-28. Lexis Nexis. Susquehanna University. 25 May 2007.] Tracks on this album include "E Pari Ra", "One Fine Day", "Let Me Lie", "Danny Boy", and "Abide With Me". Westenra co-wrote four of the fifteen tracks, and the album also features singer Humphrey Berney. The US/Australia/NZ edition followed in March under the name "Celtic Treasure". Westenra dedicated the album to her grandmother, Shirley Ireland. Inside the sleeve of the UK edition, she wrote "I come from a musical family, and one with a real sense of history. My forefathers were on the maiden voyage from Ireland to Christchurch, New Zealand in 1850 – there's even a commemoration plaque in Cathedral Square, Christchurch, which bears the name Westenra. My grandmother used to sit me on her knee and sing songs like "Danny Boy" from as early as I can remember. A singer herself in her earlier years, she has always been a never-ending source of songs. It's this legacy of music that she's been passing down to me since my childhood, and it's many of these beautiful old songs that I've explored here on my album."

On St. Patrick's Day 2007, she performed again for President George W. Bush at the White House."UCJ to target Aussies and Kiwis for latest Hayley Westenra album." Music Week (17 March 2007): 20. InfoTrac OneFile. Thomson Gale. Susquehanna University. 23 May 2007.] She had plans to present the president with a petition to place a mandatory carbon cap on the United States.cite web |url=http://www.hayleywestenra.com/news.html |title=News |work=HayleyWestenra.com |accessdate=2007-05-23] The goal of the petition was compliance with the commitment made by President Clinton in previous years to follow the Kyoto Protocol.cite web |url=http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/europe/jan-june01/bush_6-14.html |title=GLOBAL WARMING DISPUTE |work=NewsHour |accessdate=2007-05-23] However, she was not able to present the petition because the president was rushed away after her concert, due to security concerns.Moffatt, Alex. "Young Hayley's already become an old hand." Daily Mail [London] 8 June 2007, ED IRE: 53.]

Westenra starred as Maria in the 2007 recording of West Side Story, which was released on 30 July. On 28 July, she starred in Woburn LIVE 2007, where she performed a selection of the music of West Side Story with the other recording artists from the 2007 release.cite web |url=http://www.woburnlive.com/Woburn-flash.html |work=Woburn |title=Woburn LIVE 2007 |accessdate=2007-06-06]

On Sunday, 17th August 2008 Westenra participated in the tribute concert "Lyrics by Don Black" which was held at the London Palladium featuring performances of Black's songs by a selection of guest artists. She performed the duet "Amigos Para Siempre" with Jonathan Ansell, music by Andrew Lloyd Webber. The evening, hosted by Michael Parkinson was recorded by BBC Radio 2 Friday Night is Music Night and broadcast on Friday, 22nd August 2008.cite news
title = Friday Night is Music Night
publisher = BBC
date =22 August 2008
url =http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio2/shows/fridaynight/ontheshow.shtml
accessdate =2008-08-22

Westenra is known as a vegetarian/pescetarian, and was nominated for PETA's 'Sexiest Vegetarian' for 2007. cite web |url=http://www.richardogdenmanagement.com/pages/richard_biog.htm |title=RICHARD OGDEN BIOGRAPHY|accessdate=2007-06-17] cite web |url=http://www.hayley-westenra-international.com/dhtml-pages/html-2004/reviews/20040528_ClassicalBritAwardsRM.htm |title=The 2004 Classical Brit Awards|accessdate=2007-06-17] cite news |url=http://www.listener.co.nz/issue/3404/features/4453/wish_upon_a_star.html |title=Wish upon a star |work=New Zealand Listener |first=Diana |last=Wichtel |date=2005-08-06 |accessdate=2007-06-17] cite web |url=http://www.goveg.com/feat/sexiestveg2007/ |title=Vote for the World Sexiest Vegetarian List|accessdate=2007-06-17] However, when touring she is sometimes unable to carry on her "modus vivendi", concerned about getting the appropriate amounts of nutrients. She is sometimes unable to obtain the vegetarian sources she prefers, and on those occasions she eats meat to fulfil her nutritional requirements. Westenra told the New Zealand Herald, "I'm completely bursting the bubble now, aren't I? That's that ruined."cite web |url=http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/1501119/story.cfm?c_id=1501119&objectid=10436564&pnum=0 |title=Hayley Westenra – 'I'm a tough chick' |work=New Zealand Herald |accessdate=2007-06-17]

The song "Prayer" composed by Secret Garden and performed by Westenra is featured in the trailers for the Nintendo Wii video game, "Endless Ocean", as well as in the game itself. Westenra also contributes several other songs including her rendition of the Māori folk song "Pokarekare Ana".cite web |url=http://www.1up.com/do/previewPage?cId=3161873 |title=Previews: Endless Ocean |work=1Up.com |first=Alice |last=Liang |date=2007-08-09 |accessdate=2007-09-06]

Philanthropy and charity

Westenra is the youngest UNICEF Ambassador to date. In 2005, Westenra visited Ghana to publicize her project, Bikes for Ghana, and actively help funding for UNICEF; this involved raising money to purchase bicycles for young girls, allowing them to get to their schools from outlying surrounding areas.cite news |url=http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/ghana_25974.html |title=UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and singing sensation Hayley Westenra visits Ghana |work=UNICEF.org |first=Sabine |last=Dolan |date=2005-04-11 |accessdate=2007-04-15] cite web |url=http://www.hayleywestenra.com/links.php |title=Links |work=HayleyWestenra.com |accessdate=2007-08-11] When she was later interviewed about her charity work in Ghana she had this to say, "I met girls who had been given bikes and I could see how much it meant to them. We wanted to borrow one just for a photo and they wouldn't let them go they were really reluctant".Dunger, Karina. "Westenra's riding high on international career." Sydney MX 2 May 2007, SYD Edition, LOCAL: 5.]

In June 2006 she appeared at a fund raiser for UK charity Act Against Bullying.cite web |url=http://www.actagainstbullying.com/events/AAB%20Cup%202006.htm |title=The Act Against Bullying Cup 2006 |accessdate=2007-12-19] On 8 June 2007, Westenra performed in a fund raising concert for her UNICEF charity, Bikes for Ghana, at the Victoria Hall in Stoke-on-Trent.cite web |url=http://www.nzlive.com/en/nzlivecom/hayley-westenra-dublin |title=Hayley Westenra – Stoke-on-Trent |work=NZLive.com |accessdate=2007-06-06] She is currently working on raising funds for one of her favorite projects in Ghana, to install playgrounds for children, with rides which harness "kid power" to drive pumps used for providing clean drinking water from wells in that country. Hundreds of thousands of children have been victimized by contaminated drinking water in Ghana, and this project is the focus of Hayley. [http://www.unicef.org.nz/partnerships/Ambassadors/HayleyW/play-pumps.html]

In recognition of Westenra's charitable activities, the Junior Chamber International designated her as one of the ten most influential young women in the world in 2006. She was the first New Zealander so honored. In 2008, Westenra was selected by the New Zealand Society to receive heir Global Kiwis Young Achiever Award for remarkable achievement in her field of endeavor on a global scale. [http://www.nzsociety.co.uk/awards.htm]

She has also been the ambassador for Save the Children in Hong Kong. More recently, she took part in a breast cancer awareness campaign in New Zealand. One of the other charities which she helps is the Women's Environmental Network.cite press release |url=http://www.wen.org.uk/general_pages/Newsitems/pr_AGM_26.2.07.htm |title=Hayley Westenra joins prominent women backing WEN |publisher=Women's Environmental Network |location=London |date=2007-02-26 |accessdate=2007-04-15] Another major charity she helps is the Nordoff-Robbins Center for Music Therapy. All the children who receive her help at this Center are disabled.cite web |url=http://steinhardt.nyu.edu/music/page.php?page_id=975 |title=CNN covers singer Hayley Westenra's visit to the Nordoff Robbins Center! |work=Nordoff-Robbins Center for Music Therapy |accessdate=2006-12-13]



Regional albums


Notable tours and concerts


Further reading


External links

* [http://www.hayleywestenra.com HayleyWestenra.com] - Official website
* [http://www.celticwoman.com/viewSection.asp?idSection=207&id=artists Profile at CelticWoman.com]
* [http://www.classicalx.com/Hayley_Westenra.html Hayley Westenra] at [http://www.classicalx.com ClassicalX]
*; Multimedia and interviews:* [http://music.yahoo.com/ar-308001-videos--Hayley-Westenra Yahoo! LAUNCHcast music videos featuring Westenra] :* [http://www.bbc.co.uk/gloucestershire/content/articles/2007/02/22/hayley_westenra_feature.shtml BBC Radio] - John Rockley Show interview (22 February 2007):* [http://www.ilikemusic.com/interviews/Hayley_Westenra_interview-3533 Hayley Westenra Interview at ilikemusic.com] :* [http://www.premier.tv/?void=53997 Interview with Hayley at Premier.tv]

NAME = Hayley Dee Westenra
SHORT DESCRIPTION = A New Zealand soprano of Irish heritage. Westenra is the fastest-selling début classical artist to date.
DATE OF BIRTH = 10 April 1987
PLACE OF BIRTH = Christchurch, New Zealand

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