Charlotte Church

CHARLOTTE CHURCH is a Welsh singer-songwriter, actress, television presenter and political activist who rose to fame in childhood as a classical singer before branching into pop music in 2005.

By 2007, she had sold more than 10 million records worldwide including over five million in the United States. In 2010, she was reported to be worth as much as £11m (though one 2003 report quoted her worth at £25m).

She hosted a Channel 4 chat show titled The Charlotte Church Show. Soprano Church released her first album in five years, titled Back to Scratch, on October 17, 2010.

She has performed before Pope John Paul II, Queen Elizabeth II, the Prince of Wales and former US President Bill Clinton.

Church was born Charlotte Maria Reed February 21, 1986, in Llandaff, a district of Cardiff, the daughter of Maria (née Cooper) and Stephen Reed, a computer engineer.

Her musical break came at age 11 when she sang Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 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 1997.

A request to sing Pie Jesu at Rupert Murdoch’s 1999 wedding to Wendy Deng, led to concerts at Cardiff Arms Park, the Royal Albert Hall and opening for Dame Shirley Bassey in Antwerp.

Church also received a vocal scholarship to Howell’s School Llandaff in Cardiff where she started in 1998, after leaving The Cathedral School, Llandaff. With help from tutors, she was able to manage both performing and school work, and said in many interviews that she was “just like every other girl her age”. She left school at age 16.

As a classical music singer, Church sang in English, Welsh, Latin, Italian and French. She was then introduced to the Cardiff impresario Jonathan Shalit, who became her manager and negotiated a contract with Sony Music. 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 US Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) specials. Her self-titled second album also included operatic, religious and traditional tracks. One, the soaring and inspirational Just Wave Hello, was the centrepiece 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 No 31 in Britain.

In 2000, she released Dream a Dream, an album of Christmas carols. It included Church’s first foray into a more non classical, pop-influenced style in the title track Dream a Dream, borrowing the melody from Fauré’s Pavane and featuring child American country singer Billy Gilman.

In 2001, Church added more pop, swing, and Broadway with her album Enchantment. That year, Church made her first film appearance 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, so composer James Horner enlisted Church and the song was rewritten 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 Dame Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer, marking the end of her classical music career. Her next album, Tissues and Issues, would be a pop release.

In 2003 Church teamed up with trance music producer Jurgen Vries to sing vocals on his track The Opera Song (Brave New World). She was credited on the records as CMC (her initials) as it was her first foray into pop music. The song reached number three in the UK Singles Chart, Church’s second-highest charting single and Vries’ highest.

In 2005, Church issued her first pop album Tissues and Issues. Four singles were moderately successful in the UK with Crazy Chick reaching number two, Call My Name number 10, Even God Can’t Change the Past number 17, and Moodswings number 14.

In April 2006, Church 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.

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 throughout the year, which were held since her six-album contract had ended. There was speculation that Church had decided to take a break from her singing career to focus on her television show. Another factor was her pregnancy with her daughter, Ruby Megan Henson.

In 2007, Church became Patron of the charity The Topsy Foundation UK, helping to raise awareness and funds for its work to support rural communities in South Africa, empowering people infected with and affected by HIV and AIDS, through medical care, social support and skills development.

In June 2008, she became pregnant with her son, Dexter Lloyd Henson. The following year, Church was interviewed for Hello! magazine, and discussed her life since having her second child. She said that she was in the studio, resuming work on a new album and that her partner, Welsh international rugby player Gavin Henson, had been strongly encouraging her to get back to work pursuing the career that she greatly missed since settling down.

Church appeared on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross on March 13, 2010, where she confirmed that she had already begun writing and recording her sixth studio album. Church also stated that the album was of a different sound to previous ones, more mature with a “kooky” vibe. Back to Scratch, was released in the UK in October 2010.

It was announced on March 13, 2011, that Church had terminated her US$3 million deal with Power Amp Music over promotional disputes.

She went on to release a series of four EPs over the next three years.

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 2002, 2003 and 2012 she appeared on episodes of Have I Got News For You (the first time as the show’s youngest-ever panellist; the second time as host). 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 appeared briefly in a sketch in Katy Brand’s Big Ass Show.

In December 2005, for The Paul O’Grady Show Christmas pantomime, The Wizard of Oz, Church played Dorothy Gale.

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 September 1, 2006, on Channel 4. 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.

In January 2010 for Hospital 24/7, Church made an appearance on the programme finale, where she visits the Children’s Hospital for Wales to launch the Noah’s Ark Appeals campaign to fund the equipment in the new Critical Care Unit.

In 2014, Church performed as Mrs Ogmore Pritchard in a BBC adaptation of Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas.

In 2018, Church appeared in the BBC One documentary Charlotte Church: Inside My Brain, in which she explores the subject of mental health and the various kinds of research being done in the field.

A promotional shot of Charlotte Church for her 2010 single Logical World

Church released an autobiography titled Voice of an Angel (My Life So Far) in October 2000, at 14. She released a second autobiography titled Keep Smiling in late 2007.

In 2019, Church wrote numerous opinion pieces for The Guardian.

She gave BBC 6 Music’s John Peel Lecture at The Lowry in Salford in 2013, in which she criticised the music industry for what she described as a culture of sexism that pressures female artists to project a sexualised image of themselves.

Following Church’s appearance at the Leveson Inquiry, she became increasingly outspoken on a number of political issues and a member of media campaigning group Hacked Off.

In May 2015, she joined a demonstration organised by the People’s Assembly Against Austerity in Cardiff, subsequently addressing a crowd of 250,000 at a People’s Assembly march in London the following month.

At the 2015 Glastonbury Festival she chaired a conversation with two members of Russian feminist punk band Pussy Riot. In August 2015, she performed the song This Bitter Earth outside the Shell Centre in London as part of a month-long protest organised by Greenpeace against Shell’s pursuit of petroleum exploration in the Arctic.

She endorsed Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign in the Labour Party leadership election and toured the UK to support Corbyn’s bid to become Prime Minister. In 2016, she declared her support for the Welsh Nationalist party, Plaid Cymru, in the National Assembly for Wales election.

In January 2017, she took part in a protest in Cardiff about Donald Trump’s inauguration as US president.

On February 27, 2012, Church accepted £600,000 in damages and costs in settlement of a lawsuit arising out of the News International phone hacking scandal.

The press devoted much attention to Church’s relationship with her first boyfriend in 2002, model and musician Steve Johnson, as well as her second boyfriend Gavin Henson, whom she started dating in 2005. The couple were ranked 49th-richest young people in Britain with an estimated joint wealth of £12 million, but separated in 2010, six weeks after becoming engaged.

Church dated musician Johnny Powell, and married him on October 4, 2017.