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Charlotte Church

Charlotte Maria Church (born 21 February 1986) is a Welsh singer, actress and television presenter. She rose to fame in childhood as a classical crossover singer before branching into pop music in 2005. By 2007, she had sold more than 10.3 million albums worldwide and recently hosted the third series of her Channel 4 chat show "The Charlotte Church Show".

Life and music career

Early life

Church was born Charlotte Maria Cooper in Llandaff, a district of Cardiff, Wales. She was raised a Roman Catholic by her mother, Maria, who was separated from Church's biological father. Church was adopted by her mother's second husband, James Church in 1998. Her break came at 11 when she sang "Pie Jesu" over the telephone on the television show "This Morning" in 1997, followed by her performance on ITV's Big, Big Talent Show in 1998. This led to concerts at Cardiff Arms Park, the Royal Albert Hall and opening for Shirley Bassey in Antwerp. She also received a vocal scholarship to Howell's School Llandaff in Cardiff where she started in 1998. She balanced performing and school with help from tutors for when she was on the road and said in many interviews that she was "just like every other girl her age".

1998–2002: Classical career

Church was then introduced to the Cardiff impresario, Jonathan Shalit, who became her manager and negotiated a contract with Sony BMG. Her first album, Voice of an Angel was a collection of arias, sacred songs, and traditional pieces that sold millions worldwide and made her the youngest artist with a No. 1 album on the British classical crossover charts.

Church appeared on PBS specials. Her self-titled second album also included operatic, religious, and traditional tracks. One, the soaring and inspirational Just Wave Hello, was the centerpiece of a millennium-themed ad campaign for the Ford Motor Company. The song's full-length video, featuring Church, won acclaim at the Detroit Auto Show and introduced her to new fans. The track reached #31 in her native UK.

In 2000, she released Dream a Dream, an album of Christmas carols. It included Church's first foray into a more pop-influenced style in the title track Dream a Dream, borrowing the melody from Fauré's Pavane and featuring young American country singer Billy Gilman. Church also sang with Gilman in "Sleigh Ride" on his CD Classic Christmas.

In 2001, Church added more pop, swing, and Broadway with her album Enchantment. That year, movie audiences heard Church for the first time in the 2001 Ron Howard film A Beautiful Mind. Celine Dion was beginning a concert engagement in Las Vegas and was not available to perform the film's end title song, "All Love Can Be", composer James Horner enlisted Church and the song was re-written for her vocal range. Church also handled other vocal passages throughout the score.

In 2002, at 16, she released a 'best of' album called Prelude, and took part in the Royal Christmas tour alongside Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer, concluding her classical music career. Her next album, Tissues and Issues, would be a pop release.

Articles emerged in the UK press in March and April 2008 stating that she was still training classically and was contemplating a return to classical crossover at some point. Church has sung in religious services in Taizé. She has also performed before Pope John Paul II, Queen Elizabeth II, the Prince of Wales and Bill Clinton, the former United States President.

2005–2006: Pop career

Church made her first venture out of classical music in February 2003 providing vocals for the Jürgen Vries (aka Darren Tate) single "The Opera Song". She was credited on the sleeve with her initials, CMC. The track reached number 3 in the UK charts.

In 2005, she issued her first pop album Tissues and Issues and the first four singles have all been at least moderately successful in the UK with "Crazy Chick" reaching no. 2, "Call My Name" number 10, "Even God Can't Change the Past" number 17, and "Moodswings (to Come at Me like That)" number 14. Although these were released in Australia as well, they failed to reach the same level of success there, and in March 2006 it was announced that there would be no US releases of Church's pop work until she had achieved a number 1 hit in the UK.

In April 2006, she performed three concerts in Glasgow, London, and Cardiff, in venues holding between 2,000 and 3,000 people; the dates at London and Cardiff were sold out. Supported by Irish band the New Druids, Church performed a mix of tracks from her debut pop album and a number of pop covers including Prince's "Kiss" and Gloria Estefan's "Rhythm is Gonna Get You". Though Church hinted at the possibility of a full tour in the future, none has taken place to date.

In November 2006, it was announced that she and Sony had parted ways. According to her publicist, this was a mutual decision reached after a series of meetings, ostensibly since her five and later six album deal had come to an end. There was some speculation that Church had decided to take a break from her singing career, in order to focus on her more successful television show. Others suggested that the performance of her pop releases in the charts also contributed to the decision.

Acting and television career

Television

Minor Appearances

Church has made a number of cameo appearances on television. She appeared in the CBS series Touched by an Angel, starred in the 1999 Christmas special of Heartbeat, and in 2003 she presented an episode of Have I Got News For You. In 2005 she played herself in an episode of The Catherine Tate Show, in a sketch with the fictional character Joannie Taylor. In 2008 she apeared briefly in a sketch in Katy Brands Big Ass Show. In 2009 she is set to appear in 3 episodes of hit US sitcom How I Met Your Mother as Katy Moore a new girlfriend of Marchelle's brother who comes to stay late in the 4th season.

The Charlotte Church Show

In the summer of 2006, Church began work on her own entertainment TV show, The Charlotte Church Show. After a pilot episode which caused some controversy and which was never released to the public, the series began on 1 September 2006, on Channel 4.

The show, hosted by Charlotte and featuring two celebrity guests each week, involves a mixture of sketches, reality TV, interviews and music, as well as a recurring Welsh theme. The first show included a Wales vs. the World competition and a Welsh remake of Will & Grace. Denise van Outen, Michael McIntyre, Ruby Wax, Billie Piper, and Patsy Kensit were amongst the first celebrities to appear on the series.

The show has averaged 1.9 million viewers and 10% of the available audience, and on 6 October 2006, it was announced that Channel 4 paid Church a reported £1,200,000 for a further two series of the show. According to her official website, the final series, originally planned for summer of 2007, was deferred until after Church gave birth. However, on 18 December 2007, Church stated in an interview that she had no immediate plans to shoot the final series, as she was too busy being a new mother.

Church won a British Comedy Award for "Best Female Comedy Newcomer" in 2006, and the 'Funniest TV Personality' award at the 2006 Loaded Magazine's 'LAFTA' awards. In 2008 she was nominated for the Rose d'Or Special Award for Best Entertainer.

It was announced on the 10 February 2008 that Church was ready to make her return to TV.

On Friday Night With Jonathan Ross, Charlotte revealed that the third series will be shown on Thursday night beginning on 10 July 2008 and as of late June 2008 Channel 4 began showing trails for the series, which has recently concluded it's eight show run. Church herself confirmed on 28 August 2008, that The Charlotte Church Show will return for a Christmas special on Christmas Eve.

Movie Roles

She made her silver screen debut in 2003's I'll Be There, co-starring and directed by Craig Ferguson. Church played the role of Olivia, the daughter of a washed-up 80s rocker from a one-night-stand, played by Ferguson. The film did not meet with widespread success, playing for only ten days in UK cinemas and being released directly to video in the US. Charlotte was also the first choice to apear in the 2004 film adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber's masterpiece phantom of the opera as the leading female character Christine Daae but turned the role down as it was specified she'd have to lose weight for the part which she declined to do. The part eventually went to Emmy Rossum.

Personal life

Church's personal life has often been portrayed in UK tabloid newspapers, inspiring the song Let's Be Alone on her album Tissues and Issues.

Church released an autobiography titled Voice of an Angel (My Life So Far) at 14, before the release of Enchantment and just after she had wrapped up her Dream a Dream Christmas CD. Her change of music direction is hinted at in the final chapter, “Turning Corners.” She released a second autobiography titled "Keep Smiling" in fall of 2007, very different in tone than the first.

Revisited with particular frequency is her love life. In 2002, aged 16, she moved out of the family home to live with her rap DJ/model boyfriend, Steven Johnson. This relationship inspired Casualty of Love, from Tissues and Issues. The couple split at the end of 2003. The tabloid press documented her subsequent relationship with Kyle Johnson (no relation of Steven Johnson), which ended in February 2005. The couple stated that they remained friends, though later that month the News of the World Sunday tabloid published an interview with Johnson disclosing details of the couple's sex life, leading to Church punching Johnson at a restaurant.

Other aspects of her personal life have been criticized in the press. In 2002, she was photographed smoking, which was controversial due to its possible effects on her vocal power. It subsequently emerged that she had developed a habit, and that many members of her family were heavy smokers, making it difficult for her to quit. Her smoking habit was alluded to on the album Tissues and Issues, in Confessional Song. Her weight gain has also been criticized in the media. Regarding the pressure to lose weight, Church has been quoted as saying, “I look like a heifer on TV, because TV puts a stone on you. But I'm happy with how I look. I like looking like this. Why change just to be like everyone else? What's the point of that?”.

Charlotte Church stated in 2006 interviews that she had had given-up smoking on 1 January that year as a New Year's resolution.

The press devoted much attention to Church's relationship with boyfriend Gavin Henson, a Welsh International Rugby Union player: they have reportedly bought a manor in Glamorgan. At the end of 2005, she purchased a property in her native Llandaff, Cardiff, for a reported £500,000, although Henson said he is not part-owner of the property. The couple have mentioned marriage on talk shows and in the press, but put off marriage while Church was pregnant.

On 20 September 2007, at 10:35 pm, Church gave birth to a girl named Ruby Megan Henson.

In 2007, Church made another appearance on a British young people's rich list with Henson. They were ranked 49th richest young people in Britain with an estimated joint wealth of £12 million.

On 18 June 2008, it was announced that Church and Henson are expecting their second child. The baby is due “about the middle of January”, stated by Church herself in a television interview with Jonathan Ross. Church has stated that she wants her child bearing days to be over by the time she is 32. She has also stated that she wants 4-6 children, whereas boyfriend Gavin Henson wants 8.

Controversy

Controversy surrounds the circumstances of the dismissal of Church's first manager, Jonathan Shalit. He was allegedly discharged from her representation in a letter faxed by Church's mother; although allegations were later made by the Church family of "inappropriate tactile conduct" on the part of Shalit, nothing ever came of them. Shalit subsequently sued for breach of contract and received an out-of-court settlement believed to be worth £2 million. The exact details were never released because, as one of the parties to the matter was a minor, such details are protected under UK law.

Church has provoked controversy on some occasions with her comments and criticisms – in an interview with Davina McCall, Charlotte agreed that being diplomatic was "not in her nature". Her remarks about her visit to New York in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks, saying "People overdramatise and lose perspective" proved controversial.

The pilot episode of Church's new show, The Charlotte Church Show, provoked a backlash from some religious groups, as Church reportedly mocks the Roman Catholic Church and makes some controversial comments about Pope Benedict XVI, calling him a "Nazi" in reference to his service in the Hitler Youth and German Army. One large Roman Catholic distributor of books, CDs and other goods, Ignatius Press, pulled Church's products from its catalogue.

In her video blog entry for 22 March 2007, Church referred to the UK's Eurovision entry, Scooch, as "absolute shit" and went on to say "I've never seen shit like it, because Scooch really are shit". Russ Spencer of Scooch hit back saying "what a pity the voice of an angel has acquired the mouth of a sewer". Spencer's fellow band member Natalie Powers added "As a mother of a young child myself I find her behaviour and language quite unacceptable. What kind of role model is this for a mum-to-be?" Church hit back by saying on her Channel 4 show "They called me attention seeking... then what's doing the Eurovision dressed as air hostesses?"

She has claimed that she would be a better judge for the reality show X-Factor than any of the judges on the show. She becomes "annoyed" when their remarks are inaccurate, stating "they just do not know the ins and outs of a voice or music.

Voice

Church, while reviewing other artists, such as Pete Doherty and Mariah Carey on the one time popular British morning show, , stated that she had a four and a half octave range. Church is a soprano.

Discography

Albums

Singles

Year Title Chart positions
UK
2003 The Opera Song (Brave New World) 3
2005 Crazy Chick 2
2005 Call My Name 10
2005 Even God Can't Change the Past 17
2006 Moodswings (to Come at Me like That) 14

Filmography

Books

  • Voice of An Angel, My Life (So Far) – an autobiography published in 2001.
  • Keep Smiling – her second autobiography published in 2007.

References

External links

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