Charlotte Church (born Charlotte
Maria Reed; 21 February 1986) is a Welsh singer-songwriter, actress and
television presenter. She rose to fame in childhood as a classical
crossover singer before branching into pop music in 2005. By 2007, she had
sold more than 10,500,000 albums worldwide and is said to be worth as much
as £20m. She recently hosted the third series of her Channel 4 chat show
The Charlotte Church Show. Church has two children, Ruby Megan Henson and
Dexter Lloyd Henson.
Charlotte Church was born Charlotte Maria Reed in Llandaff, a district of
Cardiff, Wales. She was raised Roman Catholic by her mother, Maria, who
was separated from Church's biological father, Stephen Reed. Church was
adopted by her mother's second husband, James Church in 1998. Her break
came at 11 when she sang "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. This led to concerts at Cardiff Arms Park, the Royal
Albert Hall and opening for Shirley Bassey in Antwerp. She also received a
vocal scholarship to Howell's School Llandaff in Cardiff where she started
in 1998. She balanced performing and school with help from tutors for when
she was on the road and said in many interviews that she was "just like
every other girl her age".
Church was then introduced to the Cardiff impresario Jonathan Shalit, who
became her manager and negotiated a contract with Sony BMG. 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 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 pop-influenced style in the
title track Dream a Dream, borrowing the melody from Fauré's Pavane and
featuring young American country singer Billy Gilman. Church also sang
with Gilman in "Sleigh Ride" on his CD Classic Christmas.
In 2001, Church added more pop, swing, and Broadway with her album
Enchantment. That year, movie audiences heard Church for the first time 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 Julie Andrews and Christopher
Plummer, concluding her classical music career.
In 2005, she issued her first pop album Tissues and Issues. Four singles
were 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. Tissues and Issues accounted for no more than 2% of her total
sales. Charlotte Church's pop album was released in the U.S. through
Amazon.com MP3 shop, and iTunes in 2009.
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,
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". Though Church hinted at the possibility of a full tour in the
future, none took place.
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 five and
later six album deal had come to an end. There was some speculation that
Church had decided to take a break from her singing career, in order to
focus on her television show. Others suggested that the performance of her
pop releases in the charts also contributed to the decision. Soon, she
became pregnant with her daughter, Ruby Megan Henson, and this was widely
believed to contribute the decision.
Articles emerged in the UK press in March and April 2008 stating that she
was still training classically and was contemplating a return to classical
crossover at some point. Church has sung in religious services in Taizé.
She has also performed before Pope John Paul II, Queen Elizabeth II, the
Prince of Wales and Bill Clinton.
In June 2008, she again became pregnant, this time with her son, Dexter
Lloyd Henson. In Charlotte's latest interview, she mentioned she would be
ready to work on more music a few months after she was fully recovered
from her second pregnancy, and Dexter was a little bit older, though was
not sure whether she would further develop her classical career, her pop
career, or both as she loves both genres for different reasons, and plans
to work on both genres but needs to be in a creative state of mind to
continue work on her second Pop album. Charlotte also mentioned that she
has been working with a vocal instructor to keep her voice in check
during, and after her second pregnancy, and while she has never put a
focus on her body image, she would like to get back into the shape she was
in before becoming a mother when she resumes work.
In June 2009, Charlotte Church sat down with 'Hello!' magazine, and
discussed her life since having her second child. She said that she is
currently in the studio, resuming work on her new album. She is excited to
further her music career and plans on enlisting the help of both sets of
grandparents, and Gavin to help care for the children, now that they are a
little bit older. She mentioned that Gavin has been strongly encouraging
her to get back to work, and pursue her career that she has greatly missed
since settling down.
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. In
2008 she appeared briefly in a sketch in Katy Brand's Big Ass Show. In
2009 she is set to appear in 3 episodes of hit US sitcom How I Met Your
Mother as Katy Moore a new girlfriend of Marshall's brother who comes to
stay late in the 4th season.
In December 2005, for The Paul O'Grady Show Christmas pantomime, The
Wizard of Oz, Church played Dorothy Gale.
In January 2010 for Hospital 24/7, Charlotte made an appearance on the
program 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, which will help children needing high dependency, or
critical & intensive care.
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 1 September 2006 on Channel 4.
The show, hosted by Charlotte and featuring two celebrity guests each
week, involved a mixture of sketches, reality TV, interviews, extremely
foul language, and music, as well as a recurring Welsh theme. 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 paid Church a reported
£1,200,000 for a further two series of the show. According to her official
website, the final series, originally planned for summer of 2007, was
deferred until after Church gave 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. In 2008 she was nominated for the Rose d'Or
Special Award for Best Entertainer.
It was announced on 10 February 2008 that Church was ready to make her
return to TV.
In late June 2008, Channel 4 began showing trails for the series. It has
since concluded its eight show run. Church confirmed on 28 August 2008
that The Charlotte Church Show would return for a Christmas special, which
aired on 21 December 2008. On Friday Night with Jonathan Ross, Charlotte
revealed that the third series would be shown on Thursday nights beginning
on 10 July 2008.
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. Charlotte was also
under consideration to appear in the 2004 film adaptation of Andrew Lloyd
Webber's masterpiece Phantom of the Opera as the leading female character
Christine Daae but elected not to audition as it was specified she would
have to lose weight before she could try out which she declined to do. The
part eventually went to Emmy Rossum. Church also stated she had wanted the
part of Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter series of films, however, at
14 she was too old for the part, which eventually went to Emma Watson.
Church's personal life has often been portrayed in UK tabloid newspapers,
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 14, before the release of Enchantment and just after she had wrapped up
her Dream a Dream Christmas CD. Her change of music direction is hinted at
in the final chapter, "Turning Corners". She released a second
autobiography titled Keep Smiling in late 2007, very different in tone
from the first.
Aspects of her personal life have been criticized in the press. In 2002,
she was photographed smoking, which was controversial due to its possible
effects on her vocal power. It subsequently emerged that she had developed
a habit, and that many members of her family were heavy smokers, making it
difficult for her to quit. Her smoking habit was alluded to on the album
Tissues and Issues, in "Confessional Song". Her weight gain has also been
criticized in the media. Regarding the pressure to lose weight, Church has
been quoted as saying, "I'm happy with how I look. I like looking like
this. Why change just to be like everyone else? What's the point of that?"
In an interview with Reveal magazine in June 2006, she said, "I do look a
bit of a heifer on telly and in pictures but that's because the camera
puts pounds on you."
The press devoted much attention to Church's relationship with boyfriend
Gavin Henson, a Welsh International Rugby Union player. At the end of
2005, she bought a property in her native Cardiff, for a reported £500,000
which she later sold for £900,000. The couple then bought a manor with a
20-acre (8 hectare} small holding just outside Bridgend in the scenic
village of St.Brides Major. The couple have mentioned marriage on talk
shows and in the press but put off marriage while Church was pregnant.
In 2007, Church made another appearance on a British young people's rich
list with Henson. They were ranked 49th-richest young people in Britain
with an estimated joint wealth of £12 million, although most estimate her
wealth at £20,000,000.
The couple bought a Princess yacht in spring 2008 for £800,000, named
Sketchy, which is berthed at Swansea marina. In late 2009, returning from
a day-trip in the Bristol Channel, Church called out the Her Majesty's
Coastguard to rescue their lost RiB tender.
On September 20, 2007, at 10:35 pm, Church gave birth to a daughter named
Ruby Megan Henson.
Church has stated she wants her childbearing days to be over by the time
she is 32. She has also said she wants four to six children, whereas
Henson wants eight.
On 11 January 2009, Church gave birth to her second child, a son named
Dexter Lloyd Henson. The baby weighed 7 lb. 5oz. (3.316 kilograms).
In an interview with Hello! magazine following the christening of Dexter,
Church said having two children had taken its toll on her body and the
couple planned to wait a few years before trying for a third child.
She told the magazine; "I suffer badly with aching hips when I'm pregnant
and last time, with Dexter, it was so painful,"
Henson, who is on unpaid, indefinite leave from his Ospreys side, said:
"We definitely want more kids, though, but we think we'll wait a few years
now till Ruby goes to school."
Controversy surrounds the circumstances of the dismissal of Church's first
manager, Jonathan Shalit. He was allegedly discharged from her
representation in a letter faxed by Church's mother; although allegations
were later made by the Church family of "inappropriate tactile conduct" on
the part of Shalit, nothing ever came of them. Shalit subsequently sued
for breach of contract and received an out-of-court settlement believed to
be worth £2 million. The exact details were never released because, as one
of the parties to the matter was a minor, such details are protected under
Church has provoked controversy on some occasions with her comments and
criticisms – in an interview with Davina McCall, she agreed being
diplomatic was "not in her nature". Her remarks about her visit to New
York in the wake of the 11 September 2001 attacks, saying "People
over-dramatise and lose perspective" proved highly offensive.
The pilot episode of Church's talk show, The Charlotte Church Show,
provoked a backlash from some religious groups, as Church reportedly
mocked the Roman Catholic Church and made controversial comments about
Pope Benedict XVI, calling him a "Nazi" in reference to his service in the
Hitler Youth and German Army. One large Catholic distributor of books, CDs
and other goods, Ignatius Press, pulled Church's products from its
In her video blog entry for 22 March 2007, Church referred to the UK's
Eurovision entry, Scooch, as "absolute shit" and went on to say, "I've
never seen shit like it, because Scooch really are shit." Russ Spencer of
Scooch hit back, saying, "What a pity the voice of an angel has acquired
the mouth of a sewer." Spencer's fellow band member Natalie Powers added,
"As a mother of a young child myself I find her behaviour and language
quite unacceptable. What kind of role model is this for a mum-to-be?"
Church hit back by saying on her Channel 4 show, "They called me attention
seeking ... then what's doing the Eurovision dressed as air hostesses?"
She has claimed she would be a better judge for the reality show X-Factor
than any of the judges on the show. She becomes "annoyed" when their
remarks are inaccurate, stating, "They just do not know the ins and outs
of a voice or music."