CLASSICAL singing star Katherine Jenkins has revealed how she chose to write her memoirs at the age of 27 as a form of therapy.
The multi-million selling singer, whose fifth album Rejoice is out next month, says she has used the “sometimes heartbreaking” experience to talk candidly about losing her beloved father Selwyn to cancer 12 years ago, the pain of breaking up with long-term love Steve Hart, and what it’s been like to go from primary school teacher to international superstar.
Yesterday she described writing Time To Say Hello as her “big therapy” session, which was at times difficult to put on to paper.
“It cracks me up that I’ve written this book and I’m only 27,” she said.
“But people are always asking me how I got my deal, what happened to me, how I cope and things like that, so I thought now was a good time to write about it.
“More than that, though, it was a chance to really talk about my dad.”
Her father died suddenly of cancer when she was just 15, an emotional impact that she says helped shape her unique voice.
“I know how much he wanted this for me,” she says,
“I put my heart and everything into it for him. My sister and I spent so much time with dad.
“We had no brothers and to lose the man in your life at 15 is devastating. It was two weeks before my GCSEs.
“It was a toss-up whether to do them, but I knew dad really wanted me to. I don’t know how I managed it, but I did.
“There’s been certain moments when I know he’s there for sure. It’s like singing to him.”
Because she says the book is so personal in places, she has given those closest to her the chapters which relate to them first, before they are published.
“I didn’t want it to upset anyone, especially my family or Steve.
“Writing it broke my heart, especially the bits about my father.
“Every time I read those bits I still want to cry.
“So there were tears all round but I wanted to talk about how cancer affected us all.
“I think I’ve got a story to tell, even though I’m only 27.
“I talk about lots of stuff in it, but mostly about the roller coaster ride that’s been my life so far. It’s been great therapy for me.”
It’s been a difficult year for the Brit Award-winning star, with an estimated personal wealth of £6m.
Not only did she break up with her partner, she has faced emotional trips abroad to entertain the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and had the pressure of making the album that marks a creative departure from her usual choice of songs.
In Rejoice, she moves away from her tried and tested operatic formula to include pop songs written by some of the world’s top songwriters, including Take That’s Gary Barlow.
She’s also topped the bill in her first headlining outdoor festival and has undertaken a gruelling training session to get fit for her latest challenge.
Called Viva La Diva, it features Katherine and leading lady of ballet, Darcey Bussell.
The pair are teaming up for a new stage production, which will visit venues throughout the UK, including Cardiff, and pay homage to their favourite divas through song and dance.
The show will see the two women perform the work of artists including Maria Callas, Madonna, Doris Day and Judy Garland.
Katherine is preparing for it by learning to tap dance and grapple with other complicated choreography by spending up to eight hours a week in the dance studio.
She’s also running up to three miles a day and does four hours of weight training a week.
“It’s a lot, I know, but I’ve got to be ready and fit and well because the show, as well as everything else that’s going on, like the release of the album, is so demanding,” she says.
“It’s been a tough year so far with one thing and another but the work has been fantastic and my family and friends are really supportive.”
Still close to her mum Susan and sister Laura, who live in Neath, her support network in London is spearheaded by Merthyr-born designer to the stars, Julien Macdonald.
“Every girls needs a GBF (gay best friend) and he’s mine. I love Julien and we act as each other’s dates for things all the time,
“We just click and we’ve got so much in common, both coming from Wales and our family being so important to us.
“He made me this fabulous white dress that I wore in my Kathfest festival in Margam recently and he just gave it to me as a gift.
“I can’t tell you if he’s going to make the costumes for Viva La Diva but let’s just say that I hope he does.
“Because nobody does sparkle like Julien – or makes me laugh like he does.”