She’s performed for the royal family on countless occasions, as well as enjoying one-on-one meetings with the Queen, and now classical singing star and ‘royal favourite’ Katherine Jenkins has opened up on what it’s really like to sing for Her Majesty.
The 38-year-old Welsh singer first shot to fame in 2003 when she sang in honour of Pope John Paul II’s silver jubilee at Westminster Cathedral. Since then she’s taken the world by storm, becoming Britain’s best-selling classical artist of the past 25 years and joining some of the world’s most famous singers on stage.
In that time, she’s also met the Queen on numerous occasions and performed at a series of royal events, from her Majesty’s 90th birthday through to Royal Variety Performances and intimate concerts inside Buckingham Palace.
Now, speaking exclusively to Starts at 60, Jenkins has opened up on what it’s really like to perform in front of the monarch – and how she handles the nerves.
“I don’t know why but it is nerve-wracking [performing for the royals]. I think it’s just because my nana was a huge royal fan so when I was singing for the royal family, that was always the thing she was most proud of,” she revealed.
“You do really feel like the sense of occasion is massive so you want to be your very, very best.”
While she’s used to performing in huge venues and large theatres full of people around the world, Jenkins admitted it was singing in a smaller setting for the Queen and a few of her guests that really made her feel the nerves recently.
“I sang for Her Majesty at a really small dinner recently, there were only about 12 people in the room and that is really, really nerve-wracking,” she said. “I’m not normally nervous but when she’s there in front of you and she’s so close, you can see her, you realise what an honour it is and you want to be your best.”
Asked if she can speak to the monarch at smaller events like that, Jenkins added: “Yes a little it’s always usually about what the next performance is, or the song or something like that.”
She recalled: “When I sang at her [the Queen’s] 90th birthday I sang ‘I Vow To Thee, My Country’ and in the concert that we put on for her birthday it was telling the story of Her Majesty’s life and I sang that at the point of her coronation.
“I’ve always found that song just very patriotic and lovely, so I think that was a good fit for telling the story of that moment.”
While she handles the nerves by trying to rationally tell herself that everyone she’s performing in front of wants her to succeed, the mother-of-two admitted she also has some techniques to ensure her voice is at its best for every concert.
Jenkins revealed she goes on strict vocal rest between shows, even banning herself from speaking to her two young children in those hours to ensure she’s at her best on stage.
“I actually don’t speak between the shows, it’s hard!” she admitted. “It takes quite a lot of control but yes, even now we turn it into a game when we’re at home.
“It’s been so important to me that, if I can – and I won’t be able to do this in Australia – but if I can in the UK, I’ll get the children to stay in a hotel or when possible I’ll travel home so I can be up for breakfast with them. Just because otherwise it’s a long time I don’t get to see them. I would wake up in the morning and my daughter would think it’s hilarious that Mummy couldn’t talk.
“It would become a game and a bit like a Charades and they’re so adaptable, they take these things on and a few hours later I’d be speaking again. As long as you make something funny, and she knew it was for a short period of time – she quite liked it.
“I think everyone in my house likes it when I don’t talk! And for my husband!”
Jenkins is now preparing to return to Australia later this year to perform in theatres across the country, singing some of her biggest hits including ‘Time to Say Goodbye’, ‘Jealous Of The Angels’ and ‘Blinded By Your Grace’.
The country itself is particularly close to her heart, as her father – who sadly passed away when she was just 15 – was stationed in the Navy here.
“I’ve got a real soft spot for Australia, my dad was stationed there when he was in the Navy and he always just loved Australia. He’d always talk about it, he’s not with us anymore, but he’d always talk about us going,” she said.
Jenkins never had chance to visit Australia with her father before his death and she explained: “My dad passed away when I was 15 and the plan was that one day we’d go, but then he got ill. So whenever I’m there I always think of him.”
Katherine Jenkins returns to Australia in November for her theatre tour. To buy tickets for any of the venues across the country, visit MJR Presents here.