Sarah Brightman ~ the Last Living Siren
Sarah Brightman is the most accomplished and talented singer of our times. Many people around the world know her name instantly, but do not realize the tremendous influence she has had as an artist, singer, and how powerful of a force she has become in her lifetime. To say she is merely a great singer is a sad understatement of the facts, for Sarah Brightman has surpassed the achievements of any singer in human history.
Sarah Brightman was born on August 14, 1960. She began her career with humble but grounded training in classical singing, study of dance, and had her first hits in European disco music before her twenties, these end up being a brief precursor to her formidable career that begins shortly after. She does not hail to having anything close to the world of traditional influences that classically trained singers usually do. Sarah claims her main influences to be musicians and artists of the sixties and seventies era, in particular David Bowie and Pink Floyd.
She has had two marriages in her life, both to important men that would influence her career with their backgrounds. In 1979 at the age of 18, young Brightman met and married her first husband Andrew Graham Stewart. Most people in the European music industry would have known him by name in the seventies, for he was the highly respected gentleman who personally managed the psychedelic German band called Tangerine Dream. Although Brightman was not yet embarking on a serious music career, it is clear that Stewart had encouraged her to seriously realize her talent was unique.
The couple would divorce in 1983, but his influence had made a permanent impression, and allowed Brightman to see the bigger picture of the professional arts world that could possibly offer her talents more opportunities.
This is the piece that introduced Sarah Brightman to the world...
Another well known piece from Jesus Christ Superstar...
During her first marriage she had come of age as a woman, into a more adult mind, and set out to pursue her talent with a new maturity.
It was after her first marriage ended that she decided to pursue and audition for the European theatre, where her natural vocal talents might be made better use of. She had almost instant success at this, for her first and only audition, let to a yet unknown production to be called Cats. Brightman makes her West End musical theatre debut in in the new musical Cats and there she meets the multifaceted international composer Andrew Lloyd Webber.
Webber instantly recognized her vocal prowess. Brightman has what can only be called the voice of a Siren, a unique combination of vocal power, agility with tonal quality, and a range that has no rivals on this planet today. She is what in musical terms is called a light lyric soprano, but is gifted with the unusually dynamic three-octave vocal range. Only a handful of singers have ever achieve three-octave singing ability, and the majority do it by using a high range falsetto, but not Brightman. She was born with this highly unusually vocal range.
According to Brightman herself, her voice sometimes reaches a musical F6 tonally. However that is not technically correct, for her highest note ever to be sung in public or in a recording studio has been the E6 final of
"The Phantom of the Opera". This was one of many pieces that Webber specifically wrote for Brightman to sing, knowing the capability of her vocal range. This would be one of the products of the relationship which began between the two romantically, and somewhat in secret.
She had met Andrew Lloyd Webber during the period of his own first marriage failing. When he eventually divorced his first wife, Sarah Hugill, it was to quickly enter into marriage with Sarah Brightman. They became a wedded couple legally in Hampshire on March 22, 1984. The racy suddenness of their marriage was immediately put under tabloid speculation, very intense media blitzkrieg, and would remain under the microscope permanently. It was the scandal of both American and European media, but it was a marriage the fueled both Brightman and Webber creatively.
Brightman is now considered to be the first ever English classical crossover soprano, actress, songwriter and dancer. In addition to being now famous for possessing a vocal range of over 3 octaves. She has learned new languages continually through her career, to give authenticity and make better use of her vocal abilities. Among the many languages which Brightman sings and performs to date, includes English, Spanish, French, Latin, German, Italian, Russian, Hindi, Mandarin Chinese and Japanese. Her versatility is this was is also unrivaled.
Brightman is serenaded here during The Phantom of the Opera...
David Caddick, a conductor of Phantom, has stated, "What is amazing about Sarah is that she has two voices, really. She can produce a pop, contemporary sound, but she can also blossom out into a light soprano. The soprano part of her voice can go up to an E natural above high C. She doesn’t sing it full out, but it is there. Of course, she has to dance while she is singing some of the time, so it’s all the more extraordinary."
This is true of all the work the Sarah Brightman and Webber end up doing a couple. She goes on to star in several of Webber's Broadway musicals, including The Phantom of the Opera, where she originated and became known as the quintessential woman for the lead. This is because the role of Christine Daaé, was written for her voice, her look, for the wife to the composer and genius that was Andrew Lloyd Webber, it becomes his or rather their masterpiece.
The video clip above shows Brightman with her most important leading man ever in The Phantom of the Opera musical, Michael Crawford. She is as dynamic in stage performance, dance, and as an actress in the role. This is demonstrated in the clip, for Brightman never sings one note in this famous song, but yet her presence is what everything hinges on for the audience watching the two making magic on stage.
Sarah Brightman and Andrew Lloyd Webber together on stage...
The Original London Cast for Phantom of the Opera was the longest running musical in history, both in Europe and the entire world. The recorded version of Phantom of the Opera the Album of the musical was released in CD format in 1987. It sold over 40 million copies worldwide, and is still a top selling album currently. This unrivaled feat in musical history, has the honor of making it the biggest-selling cast album of all time, in any genre. Due to her work with Webber, Sarah Brightman has now collected over 180 gold and platinum sales awards in 38 different countries, this being only the first half of her lifetime career.
Sarah Brightman and Lloyd Webber divorced in June 1990. After the divorce was official, Sarah Brightman announced that she would be retiring permanently from the stage theater. Her goals were to pursue an independent and differently aligned musical career as a vocalist. She would do this by soliciting the aid of former Enigma producer Frank Peterson.
The complete list of recorded albums that she produced with Andrew Lloyd Webber is as follows.
1989: The Songs That Got Away
1992: Sarah Brightman Sings the Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber
1997: The Andrew Lloyd Webber Collection
2005: Love Changes Everything
The two have remained friends through the years, in fact Webber acknowledges how Brightman even surpassed him in talents, see her as his muse and his mentor. At the 20th London anniversary of The Phantom of the Opera, Andrew Lloyd Webber called on with great praises of his beloved ex-wife, saying that Sarah Brightman was both a "wonderful woman" and "absolutely beloved mentor", and at the 25th Anniversary concert of The Phantom of the Opera, Lloyd Webber introduced her as his "angel of music". Webber also would later make guest appearances during her next career, such as her 1997 concert at the Royal Albert Hall.
Now would be considered the beginning of Sarah Brightman, as a classical crossover artist. She is credited as the creator of this genre and remains so to this day, only Enya and Diamanda Galas can claim to be crossover artists from the classical realm successfully, but neither with the star power or fame of Sarah Brightman. She is now among the most prominent performers of all time. Since the release of her first solo work, her worldwide sales amount to more than 30 million records and 2 million DVDs, and counting.
Her growing list of studio albums is impressive and prolific, as listed below. She is due to have a new album out sometime in 2012.
1988: The Trees They Grow So High
1990: As I Came Of Age
1997: Time to Say Goodbye
2000: La Luna
2008: A Winter Symphony
Sarah Brightman has quite a list of calling card first to take note of as an artist. She is the world's best-selling soprano of all time. Sarah Brightman is world's richest female classical performer with a fortune that is loosely estimated at approximately £30 million or $49 million US, that is not including her earnings from her work with Andrew Lloyd Webber. Also Sarah Brightman is the first artist to have been invited twice to perform at the Olympic Games.
Sarah has a younger sister Amelia Brightman, whom she has recorded and collaborated with musically. She has not remarried, and announced publicly that she would never be able to have children. She also suffered the loss of her father in 1992. He committed suicide by car asphyxiation, during a bout of depression due to divorce and financial issues at the time, the circumstances were tragic. Sarah Brightman keeps her private life decidedly private and always has through her career.
After the loss of her father, she became heavily involved in charity work worldwide, in a very committed and immense way, that is rarely seen from persons as wealthy as Brightman.
Sarah Brightman has recently been recognized for her immense contributions to charity and humanitarian work throughout the world. This is both by support of causes, but more importantly her willingness to give large amounts of cash money support to needy countries, amounting in millions of her own dollars directly.
In 2012 Sarah Brightman was appointed the official honor of being the worldwide UNESCO artist for peace for the period 2012-2014. The UNESCO appointment is given to potential candidates for two year periods based on, “commitment to humanitarian and charitable causes, her contribution, throughout her artistic career, to the promotion of cultural dialogue and the exchanges among cultures..." This is an honor for a person of any industry, field, or level of status, and is a testament to the person that Sarah Brightman is, in spite of anything her fame may say about her life.
Also 2012 Sarah Brightman has formed an alliance with the massive corporation Virgin Galactic, to create The Brightman STEM Scholarship program, which is an acronym which stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. This program was launched with her own funding, to help young women in the USA to be able to pursue STEM education across their four year college careers. Virgin Galactic is known for its work in various areas of philanthropy, it is assumed that the relationship with Sarah Brightman has been formed for future endeavors in collaborations. It just goes to show, that not all the ultra rich persons in the world squander their money or are miserly with it.
Much more information about Sarah Brightman and her music can be found at her website.
It might be of some interest for readers, to know that I personally had the opportunity to see every musical that Sarah Brightman was a part of with Webber, when I worked at the Phoenix Symphony Hall as an usher in my teens. I also had the chance to meet her briefly as a backstage attendant on several occasions, for the run of Cats, Jesus Christ Superstar, and other performances. Although such meetings were brief and work related, I can say personally that Sarah Brightman was always a polite, courteous, and nice artist. Dealing with symphony musicians regularly, most were very aloof. Sarah Brightman actually took time to talk with and get to know the people who she depended upon, even the most common backstage ushers, which was quite unusual. This is probably the main reason I am taking the time to write this hub article. There are few pure artists left in this age, Sarah Brightman may well be the last of the true Sirens, both her talents and her choices in life show her to be a unique woman. Blessings to her and her sister, and may 2012 be a magical year you both.