Hey everybody, Antoni here. Yes, I know I was supposed to make a review of Verdi’s Don Carlo starring Jamie Barton as Eboli last night. However, professional commitments specifically to the rehearsal process of Shakespeare’s The Tempest prevented me from doing so and I had to be there in this rehearsal for the whole four hours. So, to compensate for this, I figure it would be nice to review an audiobook I have been enjoying so much, Charlotte Church’s first autobiography, Voice of Angel: My Life (So Far), which was written and narrated by Church herself and was released on April 11, 2001.
Ah, Charlotte Church. Where do I begin with her? As I stated in my album review of her holiday album, Dream a Dream, I was introduced to her singing through one of my aunties from my mom’s side when I was a wee nine-year-old. I did not know anything about Miss Church until I heard her sing in the Disney Channel and I heard a bit of her singing in Dream a Dream in a music class. Her voice had this infectious effect on me as a child and with every album of hers that I bought I heard an overall difference from how she sounded like in her first album, Voice of Angel, to her final album as a classical singer, Prelude: The Best of Charlotte Church. Her voice, while growing fuller at the time, still kept that youth, as she was still in her early teens at the time. Charlotte Church was a lot of people to me: the big sister I wish I could have had, one of my role models for classical singing, and the co-star I wish I could have had if I would have been a child actor myself. In fact, my biggest performing arts fantasy when I was a kid was to act alongside Charlotte Church and Alexa Vega in either a TV show or a movie.
Before I even heard about this particular audiobook, I basically stumbled upon this online and thought the book itself looked rather fascinating. I did not start listening to it until I was twenty-two years old and spending the New Year in Vancouver. As I listened to Charlotte Church’s charming and down-to-earth Welsh-accented voice, a burst of nostalgia, awe, and general positive energy was overflowing. What makes Miss Church so infectious as a person is that she is a down-to-earth, outspoken, brilliant and an overall fine and genuine person, who does not take crap from anyone. She cares a great deal for her family and friends, which has always made her cool in my eyes. For those of you not in the know, Charlotte’s aunt, Caroline Cooper, is a cabaret singer. She and Caroline appeared in 1997 on the British TV show, The Big, Big Talent Show hosted by Jonathan Ross, where Caroline was the main performer. Yet, when Charlotte was introduced, she stated the host that unlike her aunt who is a cabaret and modern music specialist, Charlotte stated that she was into opera. That was when eleven-year-old Charlotte Church sang one lane of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Pie Jesu from Requiem and both the audience and the host were in awe. Webber’s Pie Jesu has ever since become Charlotte’s signature song.
Usually, the danger of some autobiographical works is that the person involved would come off as self-indulgent, pretentious, self-righteous, and too much of an overblown windbag for his/her own good. It would also be a horrible case if a young person wrote an autobiography as he/she has not experienced that much in life. That type of trap does not occur here. In fact, the way Charlotte talks about her childhood, social life, professional life, academic life, hobbies, first gigs, experience on recording Voice of Angel, Charlotte Church, and Dream a Dream, views on the celebrities, managers, crew members, and musicians she has met and worked with, path as a singer, falling out with her former manager Jonathan Shalit complete with lawsuits galore, and life in Cardiff, Wales sounds earnest, confident, and wholesome. She was like any other teenager at the time when she told her story and did not act and sound like a spoiled child star. Everything Charlotte says fascinates me because aside from her accomplishments as a performer from performing to Prince Charles, Bill Clinton, and Pope John Paul II to singing in places like Jerusalem, London, the Vatican, Toronto, and New York, she describes everything so vividly with such wholesome grace it is infectious. Coming from someone who has yet to go to Wales and maybe make an Erasmus program in Cardiff, Charlotte makes me want to go there. From the way she describes her place of birth to the many wonderful places she mentioned to everyday life in general there to even the famed Eisteddfod, Wales and especially Cardiff has always been one of my biggest destinations I want to make in the future.
In terms of the technical structures of this audiobook, I have to say it was well-done. It is well-arranged with a clear beginning, middle, and end in each chapter and Charlotte’s choice of words is unpretentious and it all comes from her. Unpretentious is the perfect word to use for this audiobook as Charlotte does not come off as someone with a huge ego, but rather someone who is grounded in reality thanks to having a firm relationship with her family. There are also some musical interludes used from time to time, but it is mostly Charlotte Church doing all the talking while taking some pauses where it is needed.
Overall, I recommend this audiobook wholeheartedly especially if you have grown up with Charlotte Church. She presents herself so gracefully and naturally and if you can spare two hours and forty-two minutes of your time to listen to this audiobook, then you will not be disappointed. With that said, I give this audiobook a well-deserved 5 out of 5 lilting Welsh melodies. Fans of Charlotte Church will certainly get a kick out of listening to this and even if you are not a fan of Charlotte Church, you will definitely enjoy listening to every experience she has as not only a singer but also as a young person growing up through it all while keeping the people she holds dearly close to her. You can listen to this audiobook for free on YouTube, which is where I listened to it in its entirety and never regretted doing so.
Well, that’s all for now. Be sure to tune in next time where I take a look at Charlotte Church’s second autobiographical audiobook, Keep Smiling. Until then, have a great day, everybody.