Styles: Musicals, Pop, Adult Contemporary, Show Tunes.
Broadway star Sarah Brightman was the inspiration behind such stage hits as Phantom of the Opera and Requiem, written in her honor by ex-husband Andrew Lloyd Webber. Born August 14, 1960, in Berkhampstead, England, Brightman began dancing at the age of three, and ten years later made her London theatrical debut in Charles Strouse's I and Albert. By 1976, she was a dancer on the television series Pan's People, and later led the pop group Hot Gossip, which in 1978 scored a U.K. number one hit with the single "I Lost My Heart to a Starship Trooper." In 1981, she was cast in the role of Jemima in Lloyd Webber's Cats; there she and the composer were introduced, and he divorced his first wife to marry her in 1984. Their relationship lasted through 1990, during which time Brightman created the role of Christine Daae in Phantom, also appearing in Requiem and Aspects of Love; after their divorce, she toured in The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber: A Concert Spectacular. In addition to her stage work, Brightman also recorded a number of solo albums, including 1988's The Trees They Grow So High, 1989's The Songs That Got Away, 1990's As I Came of Age, 1993's Dive, 1995's Fly, and 1998's Eden. The following year saw the release of The Andrew Lloyd Webber Collection, which featured some of her finest moments from Lloyd Webber cast recordings, as well as The Songs That Got Away. Luna followed in the spring of 2000; Encore appeared the next year. Brightman then adopted a Middle Eastern theme for her 2003 release, Harem. Love Changes Everything: The Andrew Lloyd Webber Collection, Vol. 2 arrived in 2005, followed by the CD/DVD Diva: The Singles Collection in 2006. In 2007, Brightman appeared on BBC One's Just the Two of Us and performed at the Concert for Diana, the Shanghai Live Earth show, and the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. The following year saw the release of Symphony and an appearance in Repo! the Genetic Opera.
- Jason Ankeny (All Music Guide)
Sarah Brightman, will be well known to many people around the world. She immortalised the role of Christine in Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical "The Phantom of the Opera". Her superb voice and amazing vocal range earned her deserved recognition.
Sarah was born on 14 August 1960 in Berkhampstead, England. She finished school early and soon afterwards moved into a small bed-set in London where she sought work. She joined a band called Hot Gossip, which had some top ten hits including the song (I Lost My Heart to a) Starship Trooper (which would later in 1998 be remixed by Frank Peterson and changed to Starship Trooper to tie in with the movie of the same name). She was out of work for about a year and a half after Hot Gossip, when she happened to see an advertisement for auditions for a new musical called "Cats". She states that she "felt a bit different at the time - because she had blue hair", and decided to go audition. The audition went well, although they were surprised that she did not have an agent (considering her recent success about a year ago with Starship). She met Andrew Lloyd-Webber (composer of "Cats") who told her she had a great voice and should work in the theater. Sarah had to go through at least another six auditions after that (for the producer, director etc.) before finally getting the part. She says she almost did not go through with it, but she is happy she did. So Sarah went into musicals at the age of 20, but always knew that she would not stay in it forever because she enjoyed recording and had done this since she was a teenager (with Hot Gossip). A string of stage successes followed. After "Cats" she performed in the non-Lloyd-Webber musical "Nightingale" where she received arguably her best theatre reviews ever. Sarah and Andrew Lloyd-Webber were married in 1984. She says that at the time she was pretty young and he gave her a lot of confidence and advice. Once married, Sarah concentrated mainly on Lloyd-Webber's shows except she did star as Valencienne in the "The Merry Widow" at the Saddler Wells' Opera in 1985 and around that time as well she played Tara Treetops in a show called "Masquerade", another non Lloyd-Webber show. During her marriage she also released a few albums, that were not by Lloyd-Webber, namely The Trees they grow So High, As I Came Of Age and The Songs that got Away (which was however produced by Lloyd-Webber and there is one song by him on that album). In 1990, Sarah and Andrew divorced (her second divorce) and she sought a new musical career. It was a difficult time, because people only thought of her as capable of performing in musicals. She decided to travel to America to seek her new life.
Sarah was living in Los Angeles, trying to work on some new material with new producers and publishers, when she heard the Enigma sound and was impressed by, as she describes, its mixture of classical music, with dance and Gregorian chants. She and the American publishers and producers were not really working out and Sarah expressed an interest in wanting to meet someone who had produced Enigma, namely Frank Peterson. She found out his name and went over to Germany to meet him. The two got on very well, and both found they shared simliar ideas about music. She eventually moved to Germany in 1992 to continue her musical career there with Frank.
In 1993 she triumphed with her first Peterson-produced hit, namely Captain Nemo. This song served as the landmark for the start of her solo career with Frank Peterson, who would produce and compose a string of singles and albums that have become famous worldwide. And it is with Frank that she was able to co-produce her albums and co-write some of her songs. The two could complement one another's talents and formed a remarkable creative team. This ensured a great friendship between the two, professionally and personally.
Frank Peterson is not only the producer and composer for all of Sarah Brightman's music since 1992, he is also her boyfriend. Sarah has a home in London, but spends most of her time in Hamburg with Frank and in Milan, Italy training with her vocal teacher.
It is only on her last four albums (all composed and/or produced by Frank) that she has been able to start fully exploring her vocal abilities: ranging from the romantic, sea-swept ballads of Dive, to the dark, dance-driven album Fly, then to the classically poignant Timeless and to the dark-ambient pop-classical crossover Eden. But Sarah Brightman eases into all of these singing and production roles with ease. She is also able to play keyboards (as on Dive) and piano (she showed she is very capable in this by playing the almost piano-only track Murder in Maryland Park from Fly). And on top of all this, she has been studying opera since 1996, which is expertly demonstrated in Timeless and Eden.
The major attraction of albums like Dive and Fly comes from seemingly clashing styles, in this case a pure, angelic voice against powerful, epic music. However, it is exactly this concept that makes this new Sarah Brightman so fresh and original. On albums like Timeless and Eden it is just remarkable to see how Sarah's voice has matured and how amazingly beautiful it is. And it is exactly why the biggest selling single in German recording history is Sarah's most emotional piece Time to Say Goodbye, the operatic duet with Andrea Bocelli (who is on the left of Sarah Brightman in the picture alongside, Peterson is on the right). This single, by the end of 1999 had sold in excess of 4 million copies worldwide.
In 1999, Eden was released. Again opera vocals seemlessly combine with orchestral music and synthesiser textures. However, this album was a little more pop-orientated, upbeat and darker than Timeless. It also kicked off Sarah Brightman's first world tour, which began here in South Africa. She visited numerous countries throughout 1999 and received tremendous welcome from each. For the first time also, a video of her One Night in Eden show was released worldwide. However, she says, like her actress-friend Helena Bonham-Carter, she hates seeing herself on screen. Sarah also mentioned that she used to read all the reviews of her shows and songs, but she would take them quite personally and be hurt deeply by negative or nasty critique. She soon decided to no longer read any more reviews of her work; even nowadays this is true. However when she hears one of her songs on the radio or television, she does give her personal criticism of what she could have done better or what she could have changed. She has already won at least one Echo Award (German music award) and is nominated for the 2000 Echo Awards as well.
On 25 April 2000, her fifth Frank Peterson-produced album, La Luna (previously entitled East of Eden) was finally released in Europe. It picks up where Eden left off, combining pop with opera with folk and traditional. And with the new album, she kicked off a world tour on 20 August 2000. Starting in Brazil she performed a remarkable 60 shows before the end of the year. The show is a superb and impressive event that complements the music of the album. Sarah's albums are fantastic to listen to, but she is an equally impressive live performer and definitely not afraid of heights!
Ever since Dive, Sarah has begun to take a more involved role in her music with co-composing the opening song for Eden, writing lyrics for a few of her songs and for songs by Princessa like I Do What You Want Me To Do and Do You Wanna Be Loved as well as co-composing (always with Peterson) the song Desnudare and Like a Nun from Princessa's second album. When she is not busy with the music she enjoys going to the movies, preferably at 12 'o clock in the evening, so that she can work during the day undisturbed. In the summer she looks forward to working in the garden, which she describes as a wild place with grass, apple trees and mountain roses. When Frank is not working in the studio, Sarah and him like to take long walks along the beach eating sausage and sauerkraut. In the mornings she also enjoys jogging around the lake in Hamburg, because she says she is inclined to become depressed so running makes her feel wonderful. Frank always tells her: "Promise, you'll always run!" One day, when her life becomes a little more calm, she would like to have a pet again at home. Frank, when he does write his other album acknowledgements, almost always thanks her; sometimes just as Sarah B.
According to Billboard Magazine's "Year-to-Date" Chart released on 9 September 2000, Sarah Brightman was the second best-selling artist in the Top Classical Crossover Artists category. Eden is the fourth Top Classical Crossover Title. Angel Records (her American publisher) is the third Top Classical Label and third in the Top Classical Crossover Labels. Decca, Really Useful Group, Angel and Nemo Studios took the second, third, fourth, and fifth place respectively in the Top Classical Crossover Imprints. Well done to Sarah, Frank and the Nemo Studios staff! She is a remarkable singer and person, her voice carries such emotion. You will not easily find a sound that can compare: Sarah Brightman has a truly heavenly voice, a voice that will remain timeless.