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Concert preview: 'Heavenly' Katherine Jenkins to join Mormon Tabernacle Choir for Pioneer Day concert

By Blair Howell

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, July 14 2012 3:00 p.m. MDT

Welsh mezzo-soprano Katherine Jenkins will be the featured performer at this year's "Joy of Song" Pioneer Day Concert with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

LDS Church

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U.S. audiences primarily know her as a dancing queen, after she finished near the top of last season’s “Dancing with the Stars.”

Although in the United Kingdom, and internationally, Katherine Jenkins is a “beautiful, prodigiously gifted” mezzo-soprano soloist and top-selling recording artist with a “heavenly voice.”

After his interviews with Jenkins, Piers Morgan also wrote that she is “genuinely one of the nicest people I’ve met in the often self-obsessed music industry: a sweet, polite, touchingly naive, unaffected girl from Neath in South Wales, who just happens to have one of the greatest voices in the world.”

Jenkins will perform with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir at its annual Pioneer Day celebration and share her heavenly voice with lucky ticket-holders on July 20.

In an interview with the Deseret News, Jenkins shows the same charm and modesty that previous interviewers have discovered when speaking to this singing sensation with a natural beauty.

“During the 'Dancing with the Stars' season, I was made to feel very welcome in America, and I feel like it was a good introduction for me,” she says. “Hopefully now, after so many lovely invitations, people will get to know my music as well as my dance moves!”

Audiences were first impressed with Jenkins’ thrilling voice when at age 4 she sang “Going Down the Garden to Eat Worms” at a church talent show. She joined the church choir at 7, and by 9, she was head choirgirl. As a soloist with her college choir, she hit a high note in “O Holy Night” and smashed crystals in the hall’s chandelier.

Early performances led to an opera scholarship at London's Royal Academy of Music at age 23. Then, an hour after hearing her sing Rossini's “Una Voce Poco Famusic,” Universal Records execs signed her to a six-album deal, the most lucrative in the United Kingdom's classical-recording history.

Jenkins’ last studio album, “Daydream,” is her sixth consecutive U.K. top-ten recording. Not limiting herself to performing classical pieces, titles on her releases include “Till There Was You” from “The Music Man,” Edith Piaf’s “La Vie en Rose,” the popular hymn “Abide with Me,” Seal’s “Kiss from a Rose” and the Appalachian folk song, "Black Is the Color (of My True Love's Hair)."

Song selections for her Conference Center concert were made in conjunction with choir representatives. “We chose songs from my albums that I enjoy singing but also have a spiritual context,” she says. “I am especially looking forward to singing ‘The Prayer,’ as this was written by my producer David Foster and is for me a very emotional song. I am also looking forward to performing a Welsh song and sharing a little bit of home with the people of Utah.”

To express her enthusiasm for singing with the choir, Jenkins relates, “The Mormon Tabernacle Choir is very well known around the world, especially to us in Wales. In Wales we share a love of great choral singing and I am also aware that other Welsh artists, such as Bryn Terfyl, have been over to perform with the choir.”

Jenkins has previously performed at two highly publicized jubilees: at Westminster Cathedral in honor of Pope John Paul II’s silver jubilee and recently, for Queen Elizabeth II, singing the British National Anthem to begin the monarch’s diamond jubilee celebration.

“There is nothing I love more than being on stage, having a connection with the audience through music. I love to see how powerful music can be,” she says. “The audience can be laughing one minute, moved to tears the next or just want to get up and sing along! Not one concert is ever the same.”

With a repertoire that includes classical, folk and pop traditions, “Singing sacred music is probably the style that comes the most naturally to me,” she says.

“From a technical point of view, I approach all the different styles in the same way. Every song has a story, so I think it’s about how you approach the story-telling to make sure you do it in the most effective way.”

For Jenkins, regardless of the musical genre being performed, music communicates in its own unique way.

“Music is an international language,” she believes. “It doesn't need to have lyrics you understand for it to reach you and touch your soul. However for me, when you add a voice to it, it becomes even more emotional. Words on their own or music on its own can be effective, but the layer of the three combined — music, words and vocals — is the ultimate way to communicate and convey the emotion.”

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