Über Hayley Westenra
Soprano song interpreter Hayley Westenra is both the most popular recording artist in New Zealand history (take that, Split Enz and OMC!) and one of the biggest anywhere in the genre known as "classical crossover." A musical theater kid born in 1987 who'd been singing on Christchurch stages -- reportedly pitch-perfect -- since age six, she put out her own album at 12 and was signed to Universal New Zealand after being discovered busking, just as she was entering adolescence. Her international breakthrough, Pure, was released in 2002, went Top 10 in the U.K. and Australia, and has reportedly broken the two-million-sales mark across the globe; subsequent albums have done nearly as well. In the middle of the '00s, Westenra joined the all-female vocal group Celtic Woman for an album, DVD and tour. Her repertoire has diversified from light classical fare to include Christmas carols, religious hymns, Disney themes, New Age, pop songs from the Chiffons to Kate Bush, traditional Maori music, Irish standards from "Danny Boy" on down, and numbers sung in several other languages. In Japan, for instance, she's become a star partly by singing songs in the native tongue.