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Hayley Westenra

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Biography

Hayley Dee Westenra (born 10 April 1987 in Christchurch) 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 worldwide.

Pure's 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. Westenra recorded the end-title song for Disney's movie Mulan II. 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.Westenra on American Dreams

In August 2006, Westenra joined Celtic Woman and is featured on their second major DVD/CD album, Celtic Woman: A New Journey, which was released January 30, 2007 and immediately hit the Billboard Top 200 music chart at #4. 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.

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." 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."

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.

Sang the official UNICEF song "Children First" at the H.C. Andersen jubilee in Copenhagen, Denmark, 2005. The song is a duet and was sung with Morten Harket, vocalist of the Norwegian band, a-ha.



 


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