Amidst the palatial surroundings of her Melbourne hotel suite, Welsh classical singer Katherine Jenkins arranged herself on a chaise longue, her long golden hair flowing over her pristine white frock, a clutch of jewels hanging from her neck.
Her small army of buff gay stylists and make-up gurus had just been ushered from the room so she could conduct her last interview of the day in relative peace. Frankly, Jenkins couldn’t fit the ‘diva’ bill more perfectly if she had a half-naked hunk on hand to handfeed her grapes.
“I’m not a diva at all!” laughed the 29-year-old, her lilting accent still intact despite a decade spent living in London.
“I think people expect you to be a diva and they provide for it, whereas I’ve never asked for all this. When I think of a diva, I think of the positives — like Barbra Streisand, Maria Callas, Judy Garland, Edith Piaf.
“Although I often say I’d love to wind people up for a day and do my best diva impression. ‘That’s it, you have to wear pastels or I can’t sing!’ ”
Jenkins’ newly-released seventh album, Believe, represents something of a departure from her last record, the traditional Sacred Arias. The David Foster-produced collection is stuffed with covers of contemporary songs like Evanescence’s Bring Me To Life and Bob Marley’s No Woman, No Cry.
“I’ve always loved David Foster. All my favourite music — the Bodyguard soundtrack, Barbra Streisand — is produced by him. So I wanted to make an album with him that would be commercial and accessible, but still make people feel like they’re having a classical experience.
“For me, it’s about trying to make opera and classical music less intimidating to people, because it shouldn’t be. I hate the snobbery that comes with it.”
So what does she say to those who look down on her ‘popera’ stylings?
“I think it’s short-sighted, because it’s about keeping classical music alive for young people. Someone might buy one of my albums, hear my version of Carmen, and then go and see the opera. It’s all about being a gateway to classical and opera music.”
The single Bring Me To Life also comes with a balls-out Almighty dance mix that would sound great in a gay club — indeed, Jenkins has already performed it in at legendary London gay night G.A.Y., singing while “coated in Swarovski crystals. It was amazing”.
Jenkins’ camp credentials were recently lifted when her boyfriend, TV presenter Gethin Jones, stripped off for UK gay magazine Attitude. She insisted she didn’t have a problem with her much lusted-after beau (type ‘Gethin Jones’ into Google, and the autofill function offers up ‘bulge’ as the first suggested search) becoming a gay man’s pin-up.
“It’s more the guys I have to watch out for now, rather than girls hitting on him. But I love it, I think it’s very fun — and so does he.”
info: Believe is out now through Warner Music.