“I can’t actually believe it,” exclaims best-selling classical artist, Katherine Jenkins OBE as she discusses the release of her latest album Guiding Light with Andy Howells.
“When I think back to the first album,” continues Katherine, “I look at the cover and I see it in my eyes that I was just like so “Wow! I’m making an album!”
“I thought I was so lucky to be making one, I never thought I’d be making more. If you’d have told that girl, that 23-year old there was going to be thirteen, I don’t think I would have believed it!”
Released via Decca Records, Guiding Light is accompanied by the announcement of Katherine’s new 2019 tour An Evening with Katherine Jenkins, two dates of which will see the Welsh mezzo-soprano perform homecoming shows in both Cardiff and Llandudno.
Katherine feels that Guiding Light sees her musical journey come “full circle” as she explains.
“This album is a lot more traditional, quite like my Sacred Arias album, but a lot more of a mixture of hymns and anthems, with songs from the shows but a few unexpected things in there. It goes back to my choir girl days. It’s been such a lovely album to make.”
Guiding Light also represents the culmination of a deeply emotional journey for Katherine which began when her father, Selwyn, died and found a new path when she became a mother. It is an album which speaks of life, hope, acceptance and a universal spirituality, and for Katherine there is a sense of a greater purpose to her performance.
“I didn’t want to make an album that was showy,” reveals Katherine, “it wasn’t about how many notes I could hit. It was what songs do I want to sing. What songs touch my heart and make me cry. It was more about taking the listener on an emotional journey.”
That emotional journey became evident when Jealous of the Angels, a song of personal significance to Katherine while dealing with the grief of losing her father, touched fans dealing with similar situations when shared across social media.
Contacting the child bereavement charity Grief Encounter, who help children alleviate the pain caused by the death of someone close. Katherine lead a masterclass for children to take part in.
“I sang and taught them, Jealous of the Angels,” says Katherine, “We recorded it and it was one of the most amazing experiences. Yes, I went home and sobbed my heart out afterwards but what it showed was that music, when you find that song, can help you get through the tough times.”
“Sometimes it might be a movie a book or a podcast but you find that thing that helps you. I think this song is one of those things that seems to be helping people with their grief.”
The album also celebrates new life and features a track dedicated to her baby son, Xander.
Katherine continues, “I wrote this Lullaby Prayer for him, for his life, played it to my producer and he said, “We have to include this!”
“It’s so nice for me to give him this song, to have it kept forever in that moment. Obviously it’s really personal and I’m sure when he’s 18 he’s going to kill me as he’ll be so embarrassed that I wrote a song for him but there we go!”
Katherine’s first-born daughter, Aaliyah makes her recording debut on the album. Aaliyah can be heard as the child’s voice speaking on Katherine’s brilliant cover of Stormzy’s Blinded by Your Grace.
“It was perfect for the album in that its really spiritual, its quite similar to Amazing Grace and that brings so much comfort to people,” summarises Katherine before explaining Aaliyah’s involvement with the hint of a smile, “Because I had done Xander’s song, I had to make it fair didn’t I?”
Katherine is excited to be going back out on tour in April 2019 and is particularly looking forward to her homecoming shows at Cardiff’s St David’s Hall on May 7 and Llandudno’s Venue Cymru Theatre on May 10.
Katherine reveals “Coming home is so special, it’s also the most nerve-wracking. I’m always nervous when I perform in Wales! It’s because it means so much to me,“
“I want to do my best and say thank you to people who have supported me and come to my concerts over the years. There isn’t anything that matches a home crowd, so these are the ones I really look forward to, they’ll be my favourites!”
Does Katherine have a special routine when preparing for her live performances?
“I’m sure people think I have a full glam team that get me ready and do my hair and makeup, but I like to do it myself,” says Katherine, “I like to sit there in front of the mirror and slowly get ready because It takes me out of everyday mode and into performer mode.”
“I just find that little bit of time, the hour before, is just so important to be on my own and get ready.”