While still in her mid-twenties, Welsh mezzo-soprano Katherine Jenkins emerged as Britain's all-time best-selling classical artist, although critics charged her success was more a result of physical beauty than musical talent. Born June 29, 1980, in Neath, West Glamorgan, Wales, Jenkins fell under the sway of classical music at age seven, studying piano and singing in her local choir throughout childhood. In 1990, she joined the Royal School of Church Music Cathedral Singers and also served with the National Youth Choir of Wales. At 17 Jenkins was accepted into London's Royal Academy of Music, tackling a series of operatic roles while studying Italian, German, French, and Russian. She continued pursuing opera as a post-graduate while moonlighting as a vocal instructor, but upon winning the Face of Wales modeling contest she instead supplemented her income as a fashion model. In 2003 Universal Classics signed Jenkins to a six-album, seven-figure recording contract, reputedly the largest classical deal in U.K. music industry history. While at work on her debut LP, she performed at Westminster Cathedral in honor of Pope John Paul II and also made her inaugural appearance at the famed Sydney Opera House. Issued in the spring of 2004, Jenkins' debut, Premiere, immediately topped the classical music charts, and its success inspired a quickie follow-up, Second Nature. Together the albums vaulted the singer to a level of commercial success previously unknown in classical music circles, and she further exploited her growing mainstream popularity by recording a classical rendition of Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You" for 2005's Living a Dream. ~ Jason AnkenyPortions of Content Provided by Rovi Corporation.
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