Charlotte Church exploded onto the classical recording scene at the age of 12 and enchanted audiences around the world with a remarkably mature voice.
Her story seems to confirm the notion that Wales is a land of naturally great singers. At the age of 11, she appeared on the British television program "Talking Telephone Numbers"; she sang Pie Jesu from the Andrew Lloyd Webber Requiem. Paul Burger, chairman and chief executive of SonyRead more Music U.K., saw the performance and immediately signed her to a recording contract.
The result was an album called Voice of an Angel. Its theme was primarily religious, with music ranging from hymns like Amazing Grace and Jerusalem to classical pieces like Pie Jesu. Cautioned that classical recordings often sell copies numbering only in the low four figures, she and the recording world in general were surprised when it quickly sold over 600,000 copies in Britain alone -- double platinum in that country.
The feat made her the youngest artist ever to have a No. 1 album on the classical charts. The disc also made the top five among albums in general (in the U.K.); again, she is the youngest artist ever to have an album rise so high on that chart. The recording went gold in the United States, and Charlotte performed on American television's Late Night with David Letterman, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Oprah, Rosie, Good Morning America, and The Today Show, and was booked to act and sing in an episode of the series Touched by an Angel.
Church performed at the 50th birthday celebrations for the Prince of Wales and at Pope John Paul II's Christmas Concert at the Vatican. In November 1999, she released her second album, Charlotte Church, while the first album remained on the album charts and the top of the Billboard classical crossover chart after three months. More secular than the first disc, Charlotte Church benefited from heavy marketing in American discount retail chains such as Target -- virtually unprecedented for a classical CD.
Charlotte Church seemed to have the personality of a typical teenager, counting her meetings with Elton John, Will Smith, Danny DeVito, and the Spice Girls as equal to those with her classical heroes and heroines such as Placido Domingo, Kiri Te Kanawa, and Kathleen Battle. As she approached adulthood, Church seemed restless and became a fixture of British tabloid gossip pages. Her Prelude, Enchantment, and Dream a Dream albums were firmly located on the pop side of the crossover equation and saw Church collaborating with yet newer crossover sensations like Josh Groban. Read less
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