|This biographical article relies on references to primary sources. (April 2010)|
|Origin||South East England|
|Genres||Classical, Pop, World|
|Instruments||Vocal (soprano), Piano|
|Years active||1999 – present|
Watson was raised in East Sussex and Oxfordshire as her parents' only child. She began to play the recorder at the age of four, and continued with the flute and the piano later on. She was also singing hymns from an early age, and took part in local music competitions throughout her childhood. At the age of nine, Watson began to learn the art of singing with the help of her music teacher, who happened to be a singer.
At the age of ten, Watson travelled to Martinique, an island in the eastern Caribbean Sea, as an exchange student, living with a family she had never met before for the express purpose of learning French. She returned home after two months fluent in the language.
Watson scored well in sports, music and languages at school, and went horseback riding in her spare time. While attending Didcot Girls' School in Oxfordshire, Watson vacillated between pursuing French or music, but by the age of 16, she had decided to pursue a career in music.
Watson won a place to study at Trinity College of Music and began a four-year course training as an opera singer, which included studying German and Italian. During the years, she received several individual grants, including the Anne Driver Trust award. Additionally, she came 2nd in the Llangollen International Singer competition.
After being awarded a First Class Honors degree from Trinity College of Music, Watson went on to study as a postgraduate at the Royal College of Music, studying under the guidance of Iris Dell’Acqua and Graziella Sciutti. Watson was awarded a grant by the prestigious Countess of Munster Trust, for which there is a great deal of competition-one of the adjudicators being Dame Janet Baker.
In 2002, Watson completed her postgraduate diploma at the Royal College of Music, graduating with distinction. She continued her opera training in Vienna, living there for two years, studying with Jendrick Springer at the Vienna State Opera from 2007 through 2008. Watson now speaks French, German and Italian fluently, in addition to English.
Described as "a classically trained vocalist whose rich, sumptuous voice can soar effortlessly over music written by some of the world's all time greatest composers", Watson has since performed in various public and private events in Europe, Asia, and the USA, working with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in a number of concerts, including at Cadogan Hall. She has also been a regular performer in the Royal Households of the United Kingdom, most markedly with her performance to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at Buckingham Palace.
Over the years, Watson has also sang in various benefit concerts. She has performed for Children in Crisis, British Red Cross and The Head & Neck Cancer Research Trust of The Royal Marsden Hospital in London, where she also sang for the Indian charity of Magic Bus in a Gala Dinner attended by Elizabeth Hurley among others at the Park Lane Hotel. In addition, Watson has also performed on behalf of a Sir Winston Churchill charity at Blenheim Palace in England and for the Anti-Human Trafficking Campaign for the United Nations at Hofburg Imperial Palace in Austria. Watson has also worked for AdoptSriLanka.com to help re-build the community of Sri Lanka after the destruction of the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami.
In 2008, Watson performed in the Bonachela Dance Company production Square Map of Q4 at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, singing music created by Marius de Vries (producer of the film Moulin Rouge! and performers such as Madonna and Björk). Later that same year, Watson completed a UK tour of arenas in Birmingham, London, Manchester, Sheffield, Belfast, and Dublin. She sang as the lead performer with Young Voices to sold out arenas of up to 19,000 people, including The 02 and the Royal Albert Hall. Watson also opened up the Julia Clancey fashion show at Smashbox Studios during the 2008 Los Angeles Fashion Week, singing Mal di Luna, a vocal arrangement of Moonight Sonata by Ludwig van Beethoven.
In 2009, Watson performed as a soloist with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at Priory Park, Southend-on-Sea, England, as part of the annual benefit concert series, Concerts in the Park, organized by the Rotary Club of Rayleigh Mill. Watson also performed with The Celtic Tenors in Los Angeles and the RDS Concert Hall in Dublin, Ireland. In 2010, Watson sang at The 2010 Genlux Britweek Designer of the Year Award and Fashion Show in Los Angeles, honouring the British designer Matthew Williamson, and travelled to Iceland, exploring the country and headlining a major Christmas concert with Paul Potts and Alexander Rybak in Reykjavík.
Watson's initial idea was to join an opera company, but things took a different turn as world music clubs began to spread a new international trend of mixing classical and popular music. Equally at home giving a classical recital in traditional surroundings or singing in a club with a couple of young non-classical musicians, Watson realized she might be able to make a record that would reflect this diversity and bring together the best of different genres.
Having graduated from the Royal College of Music, Watson went on to sign a £1 million recording contract with Sony Classical in 2002. The programme of her self-titled debut album Summer, created by Watson herself and producer Nick Patrick, is a collection of classical, popular and world music, including pieces and arrangements of music by Ludwig van Beethoven, Antonín Dvořák, Gabriel Fauré, Geminiano Giacomelli, Benjamin Godard, Ennio Morricone, Stanley Myers, Joaquín Rodrigo, Sting, Richard Strauss and others.
The album was recorded at Abbey Road Studios with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted and arranged by Nick Ingman. Other recording studios included Air Lyndhurst and Townhouse Studios, while the London Session Orchestra provided additional strings. Watson worked with various musicians during the recording of the album, including Pino Palladino, Richard Harvey, Nigel Hitchcock, Dominic Miller and John Parricelli. She also had Roger Vignoles as her accompanist in Sposa son disprezzata, and Marcelo Álvarez as her duet partner in Tutta La Vita by Matteo Saggese. Choirs on the album are the London Oratory School Schola and Metro Voices.
Described as a "seamless fusion between classical and ethnic music that is both emotively powerful and intellectually satisfying", Summer was released internationally in 2003, peaking at number 1 on the US iTunes and number 2 on the UK Classical Charts. "Her name says it all—she's bright, blonde and beautiful, with the talent and determination to take the music world by storm – a potential superstar", declared Classic FM Magazine, while Arena named her as "the Norah Jones of 2003". The Daily Express hailed the album as "very chilled out in a classical way."
Watson names Renée Fleming and Joan Sutherland as her great inspirations. She also says that Annie Lennox and Sting have had a big impact on her, while Paul Oakenfold has been a major influence as well. Watson also loves Joshua Bell's albums of violin music, and enjoys going to Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club in London. Her other musical favorites include the Icelandic post-rock band Sigur Rós.
In 2002, Watson was seriously injured in the Potters Bar train crash in England. In 2005, she became the latest to launch a legal battle against Network Rail and repair company Jarvis, which had admitted liability for the tragedy that claimed seven lives. Having issued a writ in the High Court of Justice seeking damages, Watson sued rail chiefs for £150,000 in compensation.
- Oak Park Journal, Music Reviews 2003, oakparkjournal.com, 21 March 2010.
- USA Today, usatoday.com, 16 October 2003.
- Summer Watson Official Homepage, summerwatson.co.uk, 21 March 2010.
- Classic FM, classicfm.co.uk, 10 April 2008.
- Didcot Girls' School, Document, A Language College "Promoting Excellence Through Partnership" "A third year of progress and achievement" 1 September 1999 – 31 August 2000, didcotgirls.oxon.sch.uk, 28 October 2001.
- Létt Bylgjan 967 (Radio Station), lettbylgjan.is, Radio Interview, "Summer Watson hlakkar til að koma til Íslands - Viðtal", 10 November 2010.
- Summer Watson Official Homepage, summer.uk.net, 21 December 2008.
- The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra 60th Anniversary Concert at Buckingham Palace with Summer Watson and Colin Schachat, 20 October 2006.
- Colin Schachat Official Homepage, colinschachat.com, 29 August 2010.
- Daily Mail, 7 September 2005.
- Magic Bus Official Homepage, magicbusindia.org, 21 March 2010.
- Julia Clancey Spring Collection 2009, Smashbox Studios in Culver City, Los Angeles Fashion Week, October 2008.
- Echo (formerly known as Evening Echo), Southend, England, 19 June 2009.
- The Celtic Tenors Gala Benefit Concert with Summer Watson and the John Scottus Alumni, Senior, and Junior School Choirs at the RDS Concert Hall, 17 May 2010.
- John Scottus School Official Homepage, johnscottus.ie, Gala Concert in RDS Concert Hall, 29 August 2010.
- BritWeek Official Homepage, britweek.org, The Genlux Britweek Designer of the Year Award and Fashion Show 2010, 7 July 2010. http://britweek.org/2010/LA_fashion_awards.html?expandable=1
- Létt Bylgjan 967 (Radio Station), lettbylgjan.is, Radio & Video Interview, "Summer Watson er komin til landsins - Myndband", 2 December 2010.
- The 2010 Jólagestir Björgvins Christmas Concert at Laugardalshöll in Reykjavík, Iceland, 4 December 2010.
- Rogers, Emily (2011-06-10). "Interview with Summer Watson". The Network Community. USA. Retrieved 2011-11-03.
- Music Week, 8 February 2003.
- Summer, 5099708987923, Sony Classical Records, 2003.
- Sticker on the Summer case, 5099708987923, Sony Classical Records, 2003.
- C Music TV Official Homepage, cmusic.tv, Artists - Summer Watson, 29 August 2010.
- Evening Standard, 4 October 2005.
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