The Zealander soprano, Hayley Westenra, was classically trained as both a singer and as a dancer. She is a former member of the New Zealand Royal Ballet. Her voice is an operatic instrument and she has performed with the New Zealand Opera and Orchestra. She made her recording debut at the age of 14 with a self-titled collection that took her country by storm. Universal International then released Pure, an eclectic and very engaging set of pop, classical, and sacred songs, which exploded all over the globe. Westenra's voice is unusually suited to popular music because, unlike other classical singers, she doesn't resort to using vibrato technique. Instead, her delivery is extremely clean and full, hitting notes effortlessly and letting them draw out naturally.
While critics have unfortunately compared Hayley Westenra to Charlotte Church, Westenra's interpretive gifts lie in the same terrain as singers such as Kate Bush on one side (whose "Wuthering Heights" was Pure's first single) and Barbra Streisand on the other. After the runaway success of Pure, Westenra and her family moved to London, and she began nearly nonstop world touring in support of her album. She has performed at the British Classical Awards, guaranteeing her success in the
UK. Pure was issued in the USA in April 2004, and the music video for "Wuthering Heights" has garnered considerable play on VH1, underscoring well-received performances in New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. In June 2004, Universal issued "My Gift to You", a collection of Christmas and seasonal songs.