x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

The two-time Classic Brit Awards-winner Katherine Jenkins is excited about performing in Abu Dhabi alongside the Spanish tenor José Carreras at a concert later this month.

Katherine Jenkins. Rex Features via AP Images
Katherine Jenkins. Rex Features via AP Images

It will be her second performance with the singer, and Jenkins recalls hours spent in the Royal Academy of Music library listening to his recordings. “He’s the voice of a generation,” she says. “Now I sing alongside him and he helps me be better. You’re always going to up your game when you sing with someone so legendary.”

The 33-year-old calls scooping second place on the British version of the popular reality television show Dancing with the Stars and running the London Marathon in memory of her father, who died when she was 15, as highlights from the past year.

Although now on a break from recording, she has also been nominated in the Classic FM Album of the Year category at this year’s Classic Brit Awards for This Is Christmas.

Jenkins says one of her favourite memories is performing for Barbra Streisand on the legendary singer and screen star’s birthday in 2009.

“I was invited to sing at her birthday and it’s not exactly something you turn down,” she says. “It feels surreal to even talk about it now. I was standing in the middle of a room in Barbra’s home about to sing to a woman who I’ve spent most of my life trying to be. Words can’t explain the terror-slash-jubilation.”

Jenkins’ critics, those unwilling to subscribe to classical crossover, or “popera” as it’s known, scoffed at her reported £5.8 million (D34.6m) label switch from Universal to Warner in 2008. The move has since reversed; Jenkins is back with Universal Music and has gone from sweetheart-from-the-valleys to worldwide star.

The daughter of a factory-worker father and radiographer mother, Jenkins started her career by winning the Welsh Choir Girl of the Year competition at the age of 11. Though her parents encouraged her, she says they were far from pushy.

“He was a stay-at-home Dad, so I learnt a lot from him,” she says about her late father. “He always encouraged me and made me believe in myself. I say a prayer for him before every performance. It’s the first thing I do when I step on stage.”

• Flash Entertainment present José Carreras and Katherine Jenkins at the du Arena, Yas Island, on October 25. Tickets, priced from Dh395, are available at www.ticketmaster.ae

artslife@thenational.ae