Katherine Jenkins (born 29 June 1980) is a Welsh lyric mezzo-soprano. She is a popular classical-crossover singer who performs across a spectrum of operatic arias, popular songs, musical theatre and hymns.
After winning singing competitions in her youth, Jenkins studied at the Royal Academy of Music, modelled and taught voice. She came to wide public attention in 2003 when she sang atWestminster Cathedral in honour of Pope John Paul II's silver jubilee. Since 2004, she has released numerous albums that have performed well on British and foreign charts. In both 2005 and 2006, her albums received Classic Brit Awards as Album of the Year. She has also been seen widely in concert, including concerts for British troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, and has sung at sporting events, on television shows and in support of many charities. In Spring 2012, she competed on the US television show Dancing with the Stars, finishing in second place, behind NFL Super Bowl champion Donald Driver.
Jenkins was born in Neath, Wales, where she and her sister Laura were raised by their parents Selwyn John and Susan. She has half-sisters from her father's first marriage, neither of whom she has met.
She attended Alderman Davies Church in Wales Primary School in Neath and later Dwr-y-Felin Comprehensive School, received A grades in GCSEs and A Levels and participated in productions such as Calamity Jane and Guys and Dolls. She attended singing lessons with John Hugh Thomas and passed her Grade 8 examinations with distinction in both singing and piano.
Between 1991 and 1996, Jenkins was a member of the Royal School of Church Music Cathedral Singers and passed the St Cecilia Award, the highest RSCM award for female choristers. She was also a member of the National Youth Choir of Wales for three years, won the BBC Radio 2 Welsh Choirgirl of the Year contest (twice), and the BET Welsh Choirgirl of the Year competition. She was also awarded the Pelenna Valley Male Voice Choir Scholarship for the most promising young singer. At the age of 17 she won a scholarship to study at the Royal Academy of Music, where she studied Italian, German, French and Russian, graduating with honours and receiving a music teacher's diploma.
After working as a freelance singing teacher, a tour guide on the London Eye and as a model, she entered a modelling competition and became the Face of Wales 2000. She then decided to follow a musical career. Universal Classics and Jazz heard her demo and she was invited to an interview at which she sang Rossini's "Una voce poco fa". Universal offered Jenkins a six-album deal, the most lucrative in the United Kingdom's classical recording history, reportedly worth £1 million.
Her father, Selwyn, died of lung cancer at age 70 when she was 15. She has dedicated each award she received to him. While Jenkins was studying at the Royal Academy of Music, at 19 years of age, she was attacked, beaten and robbed by an unknown assailant who attempted to rape her, but she fought the man off.
After Jenkins and Dame Vera Lynn were together at centre stage at the 60th Anniversary of VE Day in 2005 during the song "We'll Meet Again", the newspapers dubbed Jenkins "the new Forces' Sweetheart", a nickname given to Lynn during World War II. Lynn had said to Jenkins that she should "go out and entertain the troops," which Jenkins promised she would. In December 2005 and 2006 Jenkins travelled to Iraq to entertain the soldiers for Christmas. On her first visit to Iraq in 2005, when travelling to Shaibah, the largest British base in Southern Iraq, the helicopter she was travelling in was targeted by missiles. Anti-missile flares were deployed and the group landed safely.
In November 2008 Jenkins revealed to the Daily Mail that when she was a student she had taken class A drugs (cocaine and ecstasy) and cannabis. She noted that she was introduced to them by people she socialised with at the time and that she stopped taking them after signing her record deal in 2003. In the article Jenkins said "taking drugs is the biggest regret of my life".
At the start of 2007 Jenkins made her first appearance in the British young people's Sunday Times Rich List which ranked her as the sixty-second richest young person in Britain with an estimated wealth of £9 million. In 2010, the Sunday Times Rich List placed her at joint 11th in the Top 20 Young Millionaires list alongside Leona Lewis and Charlotte Church with an estimated wealth of £11 million.
In July 2010, Jenkins was reported to have bought a house with TV presenter Gethin Jones. In February 2011, they became engaged, but on 30 December 2011, Jenkins and Jones announced that they were no longer together.She is a vegetarian.