Who’s she? She’s just the most popular classical/crossover soprano singer in the entire
world for the last 30 years and I fell madly in love with her from the moment I heard her voice in Phantom of the Opera.
You’ll never hear her on pop, rock, country, jazz, or almost any other radio stations – at least not in the US. The average US citizen is dismally unaware of anything not in the top 40 of one of the major musical genres.
in 2014, “rock” (which includes alt-rock and several smaller sub-genres) was far and away the most popular musical genre in the US by a factor of 3 to 1. R&B and Country round out number 2 and 3. Taylor Swift was overwhelmingly the biggest selling artist.
I’m not here to knock Taylor Swift. Her voice is incredible and she is insanely attractive. Exotic eyes (IMHO) and an absolutely perfect body (also IMHO). Her music is quirky, playfully sexy, usually upbeat and very skillfully performed. Her videos are also outstanding. She deserves every bit of success she gets.
I am going to say that the world of music does not begin and end with rock and country. There are musicians out there who have incredible talent but because they don’t fit into an established “major” genre here, unless you looked for music beyond the radio or your current favorite genre you’d never know they existed.
You’ve probably heard of Sarah Brightman though. She’s known as a “classical crossover” although she herself resists being labeled. (She is credited with singlehandedly creating the genre.) Today the genre has many other artists.
At 13 she played Queen Victoria’s eldest daughter in I and Albert, a musical about Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. She later studied ballet, then art and later went to the Royal College of Music to study classical music. In the late 70’s she got recruited into doing disco – something I’m not sure she planned to make her career – but it did put food on the table and gained her exposure. Even got her a number 6 hit on Billboard.
Sometimes the road to success can be rocky and take unexpected detours. This was not a road one would expect a classically trained musician and dancer to travel.
But it was a start. She auditioned for and landed a role in Cats, Andrew Lloyd Weber’s famous West End musical and won a spot as Jemimah and performed in several songs. Most notably she had a part in the megahit Memory ,with Ellen Paige in the lead. Most of us Americans only know the song from the Barbara Streisand cover – if that. I believe the original is the better. Sarah comes in at about 2:28.
After Cats, she performed other roles. One was Nightingale, a one-act musical in which an aging emperor discovers that money can’t buy happiness. Her performance caught Andrew Lloyd Weber’s eye. It was not long before he approached her. In 1984 they were married. Weber was so enamored of her he wrote a little musical just for her and paired her up with a guy by the name of Michael Crawford.
Perhaps you’ve heard of it? It is called The Phantom of the Opera. It has grossed $5.6 billion worldwide and launched Sarah Brightman into position as the number one soprano in the world. It was the longest running show in the history of Broadway and is still playing (with different leads obviously) in New York and London today. It’s only competition for the greatest musical of all time are The Lion King and Les Misrables.
Sorry, but there is no video recording of Micheal Crawford and Sarah Brightman doing the title song. But here she is with Michael – even if she isn’t singing. What a beauty! To both look like that and sing like that are more blessings than a hundred very fortunate people would normally have.
For the title song, Antonio Banderas will have to do. This is 30 years later at the Royal Albert Hall and she still has it. And Antonio doesn’t do so bad either.
Three decades bring a lot of changes. She is still so beautiful! And so sensual!
If you can, please buy the London Cast Album of the musical You will not be disappointed. It is the best selling original cast album in history. Crank the volume high for the opening theme. That organ music is to die for!
After Phantom, Sarah Brightman retired from the stage with only a couple of additional appearances. She separated from Andrew Lloyd Weber and struck out on her own in the music world. Her first work was with Frank Peterson of Enigma, The album Dive with her cover of Captin Nemo was a resounding success. So was the album Fly, with a more Goth inspiration.
She has many more albums to her credit but the most famous one is Timeless where she does a duet with Andrea Bocelli, Conte Partiro (Time to Say Goodbye). It has gone gold in the US and and multi-platinum in six other countries. You won’t be hearing it on any US radio stations. It is a thing you have to know to look for. Almost her entire eposure in the US has been PBS specials.
The affection betwen the two is genuine. Can’t tell you if there is any chemistry.
She can sing in many languages. English, Spanish, Italian, Latin, Japanese and Chinese and probably more I don’t know about. Like this theme for an NKK teleision production about hungry samurai in the Meji period.
Or this for the Beijing Olympics. She was the first person ever to sing for two different Olympics.
I went to see her Dreamchaser tour when it came to LA. The music was space themed and the choreography was great, tho you could tell she wasn’t that limber ballet student of 40 years ago. She danced a little and everyone else danced a lot. She still brought down the house with the high note from Phantom. I think that will always be her signature song.
If you listen to the opening of La Luna and compare it to the opening from I Lost My Heart to a Starship Trooper, you’ll notice the similarity.
I suspect she has always been inspired by space flight. She had gone into training in Russia to fly to the ISS but had to back out. It was never clear why she backed out – “personal reasons” were stated. So did the backup tourist slated to replace her (Satoshi Takamatsu). I’d be curious to know if any of the 70 pre-sold tickets to Virgin Galactic’s suborbital space flights went to her.
I know there are alot of anime fans here. She co-sang the opening theme for Pokemon: The Rise of Darkrai
And who can forget her role as Blind Mag in RepoMan: The Genetic Opera, starring Anthony Stewart Head of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame. It may be a bit dark for some tastes. If there is one truth about Sarah Brightman it is that she is a real showman and will try anything.
She is still recording. Her next show is going to be announced 1-21-19, and the theme is Hymn. I’ll just leave you with this song entitled Meadowlark from her album The Songs That Got Away. It is from the musical, The Baker’s Wife by composer and lyricist Stephen Schwartz. Reminds me of the plot of Nightingale, the musical that first brought her to Andrew Lloyd Weber’s attention. It shows off her voice beautifully.
September 9, 2021 at 10:54
Excellent review which I would second big time. That woman can sing. Sarah Brightman has an incredible voice. I have been playing her Timeless cd ever since it came out in 1997 and never get tired of listening. That’s the studio album of Italian opera with some of the greatest male singers. She can hold her own with any of the major opera stars, and actually do them better because her style is less formal and more show biz. As you mention, it is so sorry that she is not as well known as Blackpink or BTS or Taylor Swift.
September 9, 2021 at 13:56
That’s American taste for you. In Europe she is a mega uber super star.
January 20, 2019 at 17:16
I discovered her after finding a version of her singing Scarborough Fair. Love that voice (how can I not?), and in happy I got to discover more of her songs that I didn’t know from this list.
January 20, 2019 at 19:47
January 20, 2019 at 05:15
I know Sarah Brightman from The Phantom of the Opera. I was a huge POTO fan when I was a teenager and even read fan fiction. 😂 I agree with your points!
January 20, 2019 at 06:53
The number of celebrities I have flat out lusted after is very small. She is near the top of the list.
July 28, 2019 at 23:49
I have a hope that I’ll be able to sing “The Music of the Night” on stage someday. It is at the extreme limits of my vocal range. I have to train for months to get that much range and even then there is only one key I can sing it in. That ability fades after even a few days without practice.