10 April 1955 |
Thorne, Doncaster, West Riding of Yorkshire, England, UK
|Occupations||Singer–songwriter, musician, broadcaster, media personality|
Universal Classics and Jazz
Universal Music International
Garrett was born in the town of Thorne near Doncaster in the West Riding of Yorkshire, into a musical family. She attended Thorne Fieldside Infant and Junior Schools and Thorne Grammar School, where she performed in school plays and musicals and passed 10 O-levels and an A-level in music. As she grew up she inherited her family's love of music. Her grandfather Colin Wall was a classical pianist, her father Derek worked as a railway signalman and then as a schoolteacher at Hatfield Woodhouse Primary School, eventually going on to become a headmaster. They lived nearby just south of the village; her mother Margaret (née Wall) was a talented singing seamstress and became the school secretary at Lesley's primary school. She has two sisters, Jill & Kay and one step-sister Louise and two step-brothers Robert and Nicholas. When Lesley was 17, to earn money in the summer, Lesley washed dishes at the officers' mess at nearby RAF Lindholme. While a student at the Royal Academy of Music she worked as a life model, something she is still proud of
Garrett has had an extensive music career. A graduate of the Royal Academy of Music, she won the Decca Prize of the Kathleen Ferrier Award in 1979, thereby launching her career. Her professional debut, in 1979, was as Amor in Orontea at the music festival in Batignano. She subsequently sang, in 1980, Alice in Le comte Ory at the London Coliseum and Dorinda in Orlando at the Wexford Festival, in 1981, also at Wexford, the title role in Zaide, in 1982 Sophie in Werther with Opera North and in 1984 Damigella in L'incoronazione di Poppea at Glyndebourne. From 1984, as principal soprano at English National Opera, she became well known for her performances in productions of the operas Serse, Le Nozze di Figaro, Così fan tutte and Die Fledermaus.
Garrett has performed across the world, in countries throughout Europe, and also the United States, Australia, Russia, Brazil, Japan, Malaysia, Taiwan and South Korea. She has also sung opera and pop classics with Bryan Ferry, Eurythmics and Mick Hucknall to celebrate the arrival of the new century on Millennium Eve in the grounds at the Royal Observatory and National Maritime Museum.
She played the lead role of Hanna Glawari in the Welsh National Opera's production of The Merry Widow, which toured the United Kingdom in 2005. In 2006 she sang the role of Mother Abbess in Andrew Lloyd Webber's revival of The Sound of Music. In 2008, she joined the cast of Carousel as Nettie Fowler. The production toured the UK and then transferred to the West End's Savoy Theatre. In 2013 she returned to opera with the monodrama La Voix humaine for Opera North.
Garrett is a member of the board of the English National Opera.
In 2002, Garrett was awarded the CBE for her services to music.
Performances at sporting events
Garrett has performed at several FA Cup Finals, including the 2000 Final, the last to be held at the old Wembley Stadium, the 2007 final held at new Wembley Stadium (alongside Sarah Brightman), and the 2008 Final (alongside Katherine Jenkins).
She also sang the British national anthem on the Champs-Élysées in Paris in 2012 after Bradley Wiggins became the first Briton to win the Tour de France, though her performance was not universally appreciated.
Television and radio
In 2004, Garrett was one of the participants in the first series of the celebrity talent contest Strictly Come Dancing, finishing third with her dance partner Anton du Beke. In the same year, she took part in the BBC's Who Do You Think You Are?, a genealogy documentary series, in which she journeyed through her home town of Thorne in search of her family history. Garrett was delighted to discover that the musical gene stretched far back and had run in her family for several generations. Garrett is a veteran of Dictionary Corner on the Channel 4 game show Countdown and in June 2005 it was thought that she was to become one of the show's rotating guest hosts while Richard Whiteley was recovering from illness. After Whiteley's death, however, the plan for rotating guest hosts was abandoned and Des Lynam took the role for the next fifteen months. Garrett did not appear on Countdown again until October 2009.
In February 2005, Garrett was selected to be one of the judges for BBC's Comic Relief does Fame Academy, and in May she hosted and sang at the 2005 Classical BRIT Awards at the Royal Albert Hall on ITV. In 2006, Garrett was a regular panellist on the ITV daytime show Loose Women, and again in 2009-2010. Garrett also appeared on This Morning and Loose Women in 2007, to perform a song from her latest album When I Fall In Love. She also continued the post as a judge on Comic Relief Does Fame Academy in 2007. Garrett currently presents a show on the British classical radio station Classic FM.
Over four weeks, beginning 30 November 2008, she presented the Sunday morning BBC1 programme Christmas Voices.
In November 2010, she joined a long line of panellists on Five's The Wright Stuff.
Garrett married in May 1991: her husband, Peter, is a GP in Muswell Hill. They have a son, Jeremy, and a daughter, Chloe. The family lives in North London. She is a supporter of the Labour Party, attending the 2009 Party Conference.
Garrett featured in an episode of the BBC's popular genealogy programme, Who Do You Think You Are?, in which she explored her family's Yorkshire origins. She found out about the musicians in her family: her maternal grandfather made a living playing the piano with a small orchestra that accompanied silent films at cinemas in and around Sheffield. A great-grandfather was a travelling musician, who travelled across Northern England in the 19th century, playing to workers in pubs and clubs. During World War I he entertained troops on the piano.
As a recording artist, Garrett has released eleven solo albums. Many of them have been successful, receiving gold and silver status. Soprano in Red received the Gramophone Award for "Best-selling Classical Artist of the Year". Garrett was also a featured artist on the platinum selling "Perfect Day" single released by the BBC in aid of Children in Need.
Garrett created the role of Cathy in the London studio recording of Bernard J. Taylor's operatic version of Wuthering Heights, which also featured Dave Willetts, Bonnie Langford and other leading singers from the British musical stage. Her rendition of "I Belong to the Earth" was included on two of her solo albums.
- A Soprano at the Movies (1991)
- Prima Donna (1992)
- Simple Gifts (1994)
- The Lesley Garrett Album (1994) — UK No. 25
- Soprano in Red (1995) — No. 59
- Soprano in Hollywood (1996) — UK No. 53
- A Soprano Inspired (1997) — UK No. 48
- Lesley Garrett (1998) — UK No. 34
- I Will Wait For You (2000) — UK No. 28
- Travelling Light (Lesley Garrett album) (2001) — UK No. 75
- The Singer (2002)
- So Deep is the Night (2003)
- When I Fall In Love (2007) — UK No. 11
- Amazing Grace (Lesley Garrett album) (2008) — UK No. 50
- A North Country Lass (2012) — UK No. 66
- The Soprano's Greatest Hits (1997) — UK No. 53
- The Best of Lesley Garrett (2004)
- Lesley Garrett (1998)
- I Will Wait For You (2000)
- Notes From The Heart (2003)
- Desert Dreams (2004)
- Lesley Garrett: Music from the Movies (2006)
- Lesley Garrett Live At Christmas (2008)
- Notes From a Small Soprano - 2000
- Lesley Garrett: My Autobiography* - 2000
- Lesley Garrett Song Collection - 2001
* Reprint of Notes From a Small Soprano with few edits. Also the title of some copies of the audiobook.
- Lesley Garrett: Doncaster's own diva, BBC website. URL accessed on 7 February 2007
- Daily Mail Weekend Interview. 12 May 2012, p6
- Lesley Garrett This Is Money
- "The Kathleen Ferrier Awards — Winners". Retrieved 2008-03-06.
- Adam, Nicky (ed) (1993). Who's Who in British Opera. Aldershot: Scolar Press. p. 98. ISBN 0-859-67894-6.
- Lesley Garrett on Classic FM
- Christiansen, Rupert (23 July 2012). "Lesley Garrett's ghastly rendition of the National Anthem at Tour de France ceremony". The Telegraph.
- Losh, Jack (23 July 2012). "Tour de Farce opera solo leaves Wiggins in pain". The Sun.
- "Who Do You Think You Are? with Lesley Garrett". Who Do You Think You Are?. 2004-11-30. BBC. BBC Two. http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/familyhistory/get_started/wdytya_s1_celeb_gallery_08.shtml.
- The Stage — Lesley Garrett podcast transcript
- Programme details on Sky Arts web page
- http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/programmes/advent/christmasvoices.shtml[dead link]
- Fame and fortune (24 February 2009). "Fame & Fortune: Opera singer Lesley Garrett". Telegraph. Retrieved 2012-05-14.
- White, Michael (30 September 2009). "The floor show: Your guide to the Labour conference". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 February 2013.
- "Who Do You Think You Are?". BBC. Retrieved 7 August 2013.
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 222. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- Lesley Garrett's Official Website
- Official Record Label Website
- Lesley Garrett's section on ClassicalX
- 2006 article on Lesley Garrett on Theatre.com
- Lesley Garrett's page on Classic FM
- Lesley Garrett at the Internet Movie Database