Exclusive! Super star & new mum Katherine Jenkins talks motherhood and her latest album ‘Guiding Light’

Fans of the mezzo-soprano Katherine Jenkins will be delighted to hear that she has released a new album called ‘Guiding Light’ in time for Christmas. The album features an original song dedicated to her son, ‘Xander’s Song’, and another with her daughter Aaliyah’s vocal input.Other songs on the album include ‘Never Enough’ from ‘The Greatest Showman’, ‘Make Me A Channel Of Your Peace’, ‘Morning Has Broken’ and a cover of artist Stormzy’s ‘Blinded By Your Grace’.

Katherine Jenkins has been really busy in the last few years recording but mainly having children. I have caught up with her. Read this heart-warming interview with one of the most gracious ladies in show business. 

Monica Costa: So, Katherine, you’ve become a mum. Welcome to the club!

Katherine Jenkins (KJ):                 It’s a great club.

Monica Costa: After becoming a Mum, you now have a new album out this month and a tour planned for the spring. So what’s the inspiration behind this album?

KJ:                 It’s been four years since my last album came out and in that time I’ve had the two children and in that four years, it’s changed me so much. Now I’m very much in a place of, you know, a happy place, a settled place, thankful, and I thought that was a very nice feeling to take in to the studio and make new music. So, it wasn’t about going in and oh, let’s see how many high notes I can sing, and that kind of album. It was actually more about emotional music, things that touched me that I wanted to perform in a very intimate and personal way and share these songs that have really touched my heart. The album’s got quite a lot of traditional hymns, and songs, and classical music that people would expect, but then there’s also some more contemporary, modern things. So it’s a real mix of different types of music.

Monica Costa: And your daughter is part of one of the songs.

KJ:                 She speaks. There’s a cover of Stormzy’s Blinded by Your Grace. Throughout the song we’ve got children speaking in different languages, and then Aaliyah, she says the one in English right at the very end of the song, and so to me, it was really special. When I started making the album, I was seven pregnant, and that was in the spring, and Aaliyah couldn’t even say “Blinded by Your Grace” in a sentence, at that point. We had to split it down, we had to break it down word for word, and then when we finished the album, the very last thing we did was record Aaliyah saying it, “Blinded by Your Grace,” and she was able to say it as a sentence, so it was like actually a mark of how much she’d progress. Also, whenever I hear her do that now I definitely have a proud mummy moment. Every time I hear, I cry …

Monica Costa: It’s very touching. How has motherhood changed the way you approach your work?

KJ:                 I think it’s actually in some ways, I should have steam lined it, in that I know very clearly what I want to do and what I don’t want to do. I know the things that are important to do and the things that I won’t do, because they’re going to take me away from my children unnecessarily, so, for example I don’t do a lot of the big international touring at the moment, while they’re still little. I will go to do things in Asian and Argentina, as I’m doing next year, but I go for much shorter times, and I come back as soon as possible, so it means that its actually quite an action-packed trip for me, but I’d rather do it and come back to be with the kids straightaway. It’s also made me just drawn to things that are much calmer. I think the big change in my life and what surprised me about becoming a mum was it’s made me a better version of myself. That’s how I would describe it. It’s made me more patient. It’s made me calmer. I’m definitely the most tired I’ve ever been, and yet I seem to have got more energy. It’s made me happier and more sympathetic to other people, and understanding of other people, and so I think that all of these advantages have had such a positive effect on my life, so it’s definitely affecting the music that I choose to record and the music that I choose to sing.

Monica Costa: How difficult is to actually make classical music at a time when classical music It’s not as popular as it used to be?

KJ:                 I honestly think that it’s all about how classical music is introduced to you. I learned about classical music when I was … because I started … I loved singing because I was singing in church, and then I feel like I had a great introduction to it. It wasn’t that my mother and father were taking me to the opera. I didn’t have that kind of privileged upbringing, and I do believe that it’s all about breaking down the barriers and making it as accessible as possible, which I’ve always tried to do. Something that I’m actually working on a the moment with my husband, so we created a children’s educational TV show called Symphony Street, which is about all the characters, all the instruments of the orchestra are children that go to school together. They live in families and it’s aimed at the sort of four to eight year olds, and we’re in production at the moment, and it will be coming out within 2019. We have partners internationally, so I’m not sure what the UK channel will be yet. I felt very, very strongly that if you can introduce children to all the amazing parts of music, and different genres of music before they decide … before they’re even aware, you know, cool not cool, what’s acceptable, what’s not. You just make it music for everybody, and make it fun, then I really believe that the music then speaks for itself, so that’s my aim with this show. I feel like there’s so much of the cutting back to the funding of music, the arts in schools that I think that it’s really important that we have ways of continuing that for our children, and I see my children react so well to music, and I believe all children will if it’s presented properly.

Monica Costa: What would you recommend to parents who have classically talented children, and how can they support them?

KJ:                 I look back at my parents and how they did it, and I’m so thankful, because they really made me feel like I was supported. My father retired early, and he drove my sister and I round to choir practice, and piano lessons, and singing lessons and, in doing that, he made it very clear that he was supporting me in a time and energy way. My mum and dad weren’t pushy parents in any way. They almost held me back. It was more when I wanted to go on a summer singing course, or something like that, they’d ask me ‘do you really want to? Have you thought that you’re not going to be with your friends?’, and they would almost try and talk me out of it until they realised that I really, really wanted to go, and then they were fully supportive. Parents need to try and find that balance of being encouraging, but just not being pushy, and then my advice to young musicians is always to get as much experience as possible. Many of these things don’t cost money. Join local choirs, and orchestras, enter competitions, go into your local amateur operatic society and be part of the musical that they’re putting on. Do things like this because there are opportunities. I was in Oliver!, when I was seven or or eight, and that was a great experience for me. I loved doing that in our local amateur operatic society. All these things help develop you as a musician, give you experience so that one day when there is an opportunity you’re prepared for it.

Monica Costa: You clearly have raw talent. How do you train to actually maintain it, compared to what I call the manufactured talents, those that you often see on this reality shows …

KJ:                 I attended the Royal Academy of Music, and I think there they taught me very much to look after my voice, and I never think that I know it all. I still go back to Wales to have lessons with my singing teacher, and it’s because you can be 70 years old, and still be learning more about singing. I think that’s really important to never think, I’ve had 13 albums out. I know what I’m doing. I think it’s always knowing I should be checking that I’m doing things correctly, and always trying to be a better singer.

Monica Costa: What do you like to do in London I your spare time?

KJ:                 I love London. I’ve been living here since I was 18, and it’s my second home, so I love the theatre of London. I love going to see things on date night with my husband. I love to take my daughter to children’s theatre and museums, which I think are really important. We’re so spoiled for choice in London with such amazing culture and arts that almost you can’t get around to see everything that there is. It’s definitely theatre is amazing thing to me.

Monica Costa: What’s in your handbag? Everybody wants to know what’s in the Queen’s bag …

KJ:                 I don’t go anywhere without antibacterial hand gel because, obviously, when you’re a singer you meet people all the time. thin, you really can’t catch colds and things like that, so I always try to keep myself as healthy as possible, so antibacterial hand gel. I’ll always have wet wipes in my handbag. Wet wipes and rice cakes for the children. I always carry organic rice cakes for them, and then I’m very old-fashioned in that of course I have my schedule on my phone, but I also like to carry my hardcover diary. I like to write everything down. If I don’t write it down, I don’t remember it, so that’s always in my bag. I’m looking in, as I peer in I have two kinds of tea. I always carry Matcha tea and throat tea, i.e. throat coat. It’s like a herbal tea to look after your voice.

Monica Costa: What’s your guilty pleasure?

KJ:                 I really don’t get much time to sit down and watch TV, so if I do get the time to, sometimes I like to watch really trashy TV. There’s a show on at the moment that’s like this Hollywood medium. I love that program. Or, maybe it’s something like the Housewives’ show, or something. Something completely silly like that that is so different and far-removed that doesn’t involve any brain power.

Monica Costa: What’s your parenting style?

KJ:                 I would say that I’m definitely firm, and very big on Aaliyah having manners. To be kind is very important. I’m very firm with her, but I also feel like I’m a very hands-on and very affectionate with her. I tell her all the time how much I love her. We kiss and cuddle all the time and it’s full on. I enjoy my time with her but I definitely make sure that she doesn’t run wild. It’s very important to me that she knows when she’s done wrong. She knows when she needs to say sorry. But I also encourage her and build her up and try and give her as much confidence a possible and tell her how much we love her, so it’s a little bit of both.


Katherine Jenkins’s new album Guiding Light is out now.

Images credit: ©venni

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