Charlotte Church (born Charlotte Maria Reed on 21 February 1986) is a Welsh pop singer and television presenter who rose to international fame in childhood as a popular classical singer. To date, she has sold 10 million albums worldwide.
Church was born in Griffithstown, a district of Torfaen. She was raised a Catholic by her mother, Maria, who was separated from her biological father. Church was legally adopted by her mother's second husband, James Church. She had her first taste of stardom when she performed "Ghostbusters" at a holiday camp in Caernarfon at the age of 3, and had to be dragged from the stage when she refused to leave. Her big break came at the age of 11 when she sang "Pie Jesu" on the television show Talking Telephone Numbers in 1997, closely followed by her show-stealing performance on ITV's Big, Big Talent Show in 1998. This led to concerts at Cardiff Arms Park, Royal Albert Hall and the opening spot for Shirley Bassey in Antwerp.
Charlotte was then introduced to the Cardiff-based impresario, Jonathan Shalit, who later became her manager and negotiated a record contract with Sony BMG. Her first album, Voice of an Angel, showcased her unique voice in a collection of arias, sacred songs, and traditional pieces that sold millions of copies worldwide and made her the youngest artist with a No. 1 selling album on the British classical charts to date.
Church later appeared on numerous PBS specials. Her self-titled second album included another array of operatic, religious, and traditional tracks. One track on the album, 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 popular acclaim at the Detroit Auto Show and introduced her to a new legion of fans. The track reached #31 back in her native UK.
In 2000, she released Dream a Dream, principally an album of Christmas carols, but including Charlotte's first foray into a more pop-influenced genre: the title track Dream a Dream, a memorable song borrowing the melody from Fauré's Pavane and featuring young American country singer Billy Gilman. Church also sang with Gilman in a duet ('Sleigh Ride') on his CD Classic Christmas.
In 2001, Charlotte Church added more pop, swing, and Broadway to her classical repertoire with her album Enchantment. That same year, movie-going audiences heard Church for the first time in the 2001 Ron Howard film A Beautiful Mind. Since Celine Dion was not available to perform the film's end title song, "All Love Can Be" (Dion was beginning her concert engagement in Las Vegas), composer James Horner enlisted Charlotte to handle the vocals, and the song was re-written to Church's vocal range. Charlotte also handled other vocal passages throughout the score.
In 2002, at the age of 16, Charlotte Church 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 of a rather different genre.
Church has also sung in religious services in Taizé. She has also performed before Pope John Paul II and Bill Clinton, who was the United States President at the time.
Church made her first venture out of classical music in February 2003 providing vocals for Jurgen Vries (aka DJ and producer Darren Tate's) single "The Opera Song". She was credited on the sleeve as CMC - CMC being Charlotte's initials, Charlotte Maria Church. 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, Charlotte 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, no dates are yet scheduled.
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 (temporarily or permanently) from her singing career, in order to focus on her more successful television show (see below). Others suggested that the performance of her pop releases in the charts also contributed to the decision.
Acting and television career
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.
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.
Church will play a small role in a new film, Bridge of Lies, directed by Little Britain director Matt Lipsey, to be released in 2007.
The Charlotte Church Show
In the summer of 2006, Charlotte began work on her own entertainment TV show, The Charlotte Church Show. After a pilot episode which caused some controversy but 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 had commissioned a further two series of the show. However, the show's ratings have yet to seriously compete with the well-established Friday Night with Jonathan Ross which is broadcast on BBC One in the same timeslot. According to her official website, the final series has now been deferred until after Church gives birth.
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.
Church's personal life has often been portrayed in the sensationalist tabloid newspapers in the UK (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 the age of 14 (before the release of Enchantment and just after she had wrapped up her Dream a Dream Christmas CD). Her eventual change of music direction is foreshadowed in the final chapter, entitled "Turning Corners."
Revisited with particular frequency is her love life. In 2002, aged 16, she moved out of the family home to live with her boyfriend, Steven Johnson (inspiring the song "Casualty of Love", also from "Tissues and Issues"); the couple split at the end of 2003. The tabloid press documented her subsequent relationship with Kyle Johnson (no relation), which ended in February 2005. The couple stated at the time that they remained friends, though shortly afterwards Johnson revealed graphic details about the couple's sex life to the press, leading to a slap from Church, which she later admitted.
Other aspects of her personal life have been criticized in the press. In 2002, she was photographed smoking, and it gradually emerged that she had developed a smoking habit (another fact alluded to on her album Tissues and Issues, in the song "Confessional Song"). She has also been criticised for what the press have seen as excessive partying, with plenty of photos of the singer drunk or misbehaving adorning tabloid newspapers, including one in which she gave the photographer the finger. In more recent interviews, Church has stated that she has now stopped smoking and that her behaviour is now much more low-key.
The press has recently devoted much attention to Church's relationship with current boyfriend Gavin Henson, a Welsh International Rugby Union player: at the end of 2005, they purchased a property in her native Llandaff, Cardiff, for a reported Ł500,000. Both celebrities have since mentioned the possibility of marriage on talk shows and in the press.. Charlotte and Gavin announced, after rumours were going round, that they are expecting their first child to be born at the end of 2007.They have been nicknamed the "Welsh Victoria and David Beckham".
Church has lent her support to the production of limited-edition T-shirts or vests for the 'Little Tee Campaign' for Breast Cancer Care which donates money for breast cancer research. She has signed a reported six-figure deal to write her autobiography which will be published in 2007.