Hayley Westenra Biography
Hayley Westenra began performing when she was just 6 years old and made her first recording in a professional studio at 12. She was still only 16 when she released her debut international CD, Pure. It rapidly became the fastest-selling debut album from a classical artist, and reached the Top 10 of the pop charts in 11 countries. Her albums have sold more than four million copies worldwide to date. “Pure” was certified by the official UK chart compilers as the best selling classical album of the 21st Century.
Her popularity and approachability have brought many opportunities, including offers to perform for royalty and Heads of State. She’s also UNICEF’s youngest-ever ambassador, an energetic supporter, both in awareness and financially, and after huge success with her ‘Bikes For Ghana Appeal’ Hayley revisited Ghana in 2008 where she started work on her second project building water pumps. Hayley is proud to be the first official ambassador of Classic Fm Music Makers.
But it’s the mesmerising appeal of her music which has provided the platform for her other endeavours. Filing her under “classical” only tells a fraction of the story.
Hayley requires a quite different quality in her voice when she performs at any of the numerous sporting events around the World, which have included football (the FA Cup Final, in The European Champions League) basketball (the NBA in the US), Tennis (The Mercedes Cup in Los Angeles) and what is her proudest duty, singing the New Zealand anthem for her beloved All Blacks rugby team.
Hayley is in great demand as a duet partner and has sung with, among others, Jose Carreras, Bryn Terfel and Andrea Bocelli and toured with Il Divo. PBS recorded an hour long “Great Performances” TV Special in New Zealand and again in October 2006 PBS recorded another special with her during her trip to Canada for Celtic Colors. It was whilst recording another TV Special in Canada with Andrea Bocelli that Hayley saw the first Celtic Woman Special and although in the middle of recording her third album, she accepted the chance when invited to join the Celtic Woman project.
2008 has seen Hayley awarded the Global Kiwis Young Achiever Award. The Award was established to recognise a young Kiwi under the age of 35, at the start of their career, who has made remarkable achievements in their field of endeavour. In Spring 200 Hayley performed at and was nominated for Best Album at the Classical Brit Awards 2008. November 2008 saw Elaine Paige present Hayley with the Varity Club Showbiz Awards 2008 Classical Performer of the Year. Hayley rounded off 2008 with the release of her River of Dreams Album followed by her River Of DreamsTour, in between jetting off to Iraq on a Hercules where she was honoured to have launched the British Legion’s Poppy Appeal live from Basra.
Hayley’s debut international album PURE went straight in at No.8 in the UK pop album charts and No.1 in the Classical Charts, making her the fastest-selling debut classical artist of all time. The album turned GOLD in the UK in one week and has since hit DOUBLE PLATINUM. In December 2007 it was announced Hayley Westenra was the biggest selling Classical artist of the 21st Century.
PURE went on to be the best selling album of all time in New Zealand, becoming 12 times Platinum and spending 18 weeks in the pop charts. It also went Platinum in Australia, Gold in Hong Kong and made the top 10 national pop charts in 11 countries.
Along with her second album Odyssey, third album Treasure, West Side Story, Celtic Woman, River of Dreams, Winter Magic and Japanese Songs Hayley has achieved combined sales of well over four million albums around the world.
Hayley has performed for Her Majesty the Queen on a number occasions as well as Kings, Princes, Princesses, Presidents, Prime Ministers around the world.
Hayley is the youngest ever Ambassador for UNICEF. Her Bikes for Ghana’ campaign was a huge success providing over 6,000 bikes to help young Ghanaian girls attend school and find a better future. Hayley revisited Ghana in 2008 to continue her work with UNICEF, this time launching a new water pumps project. She has also been an Ambassador for Save the Children, Hong Kong, is a patron of the Raukatauri Music Therapy Centre in Auckland, and is Matron of WEN (Women’s Environmental Network). In 2009, Hayley was made Vice President of Dame Vera Lynn Trust for Children with Cerebral Palsy.
Hayley has performed at Carnegie Hall, the Sydney Opera House, Wembley Stadium, Royal Albert Hall, The White House and Kensington Palace. Hayley sang at Capitol Hill, Washington as part of 2008 official Fourth of July celebrations.
Hayley has duetted with Andrea Bocelli, José Carreras and Bryn Terfel. She has also appeared as a special guest with the World’s leading orchestra’s including the Moscow Philharmonic, The Boston Pops and the RPO.
Hayley’s Film and TV work has been extensive. She took her first acting role on the US programme American Dreams where she played guitar and sang. In 2005 she recorded the theme for Al Pacino’s ‘Merchant of Venice’, two films for Disney, and Terrence Mallick’s motion picture soundtrack for ‘New World’. In July 2007 Hayley recorded the theme for the BBC’s six part drama series, ‘Jekyll’ (starring James Nesbitt) and for ‘Flood’ (ITV film starring Robert Carlyle, David Suchet).
Hayley has performed the relevant national anthems before many major sporting events, including Football (the FA Cup Final, The European Champions League), Baseball (the NBA in the US), Tennis (the Mercedes Cup in Los Angeles) – but her proudest duty is to sing the national anthem for her beloved All Blacks rugby team, who always win when she opens for them.
In Oct 2007 at the age of 20 years Hayley released her 2nd autobiography “In Her Own Voice”.
In 2008 Hayley’s tour in New Zealand sold out in record time.
In February 2008, Hayley was awarded Global Kiwis Young Achiever Award 2008. The Award was established to recognise a young Kiwi under the age of 35, at the start of their career, who has made remarkable achievements in their field of endeavour in the UK achieving recognition on at least a national scale if not on a European or global scale.
Hayley performed at and was nominated for Best Album at the Classical Brit Awards 2008.
In September 2008 Hayley was asked to perform at Andrew Lloyd Webbers 60th Birthday celebrations in Hyde Park London.
October 2008 saw Hayley launch the Poppy Appeal live from Basra, Iraq and then go on to perform at Festival of Remembrance at the Albert Hall in the presence of HM The Queen. Following the launch, The Royal British
Legion received an Award in recognition of the trip at the CIPR Awards 2009.
2009 saw a sell out UK Valentines Tour, Japanese Tour and New Zealand Tour. Hayley was also drafted in to open the World Games at a ceremony in Taiwan – performing to millions.
Hayley and Dame Vera Lynn launched the Poppy Appeal 2009 at the Horseguards Parade, where they sang “We’ll Meet Again” together. Hayley proudly performed “We’ll Meet Again” at the Royal Albert Hall in the presence of HM The Queen and Dame Vera Lyn at the Festival of Remembrance 2009.