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Katherine Jenkins: 'My life would be different if I hadn't seen a grief counsellor'

Katherine Jenkins tells Barry Egan about dealing with the pain of losing her father at 15, growing up in a council house, being mugged and coping with vicious criticism

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Mezzo soprano superstar Katherine Jenkins lights up the stage at BBC Proms in the Park live from the Titanic Slipways in Belfast.

Mezzo soprano superstar Katherine Jenkins lights up the stage at BBC Proms in the Park live from the Titanic Slipways in Belfast.

Mezzo soprano superstar Katherine Jenkins lights up the stage at BBC Proms in the Park live from the Titanic Slipways in Belfast.

It was long before Katherine Jenkins was ever called ‘the Sweetheart of the Valleys’. She can recall being “cycled” to nursery school in south Wales — and “feeling like the coolest kid in the world on the back of my mum’s big old bike”. It was summer. She loved the sensation of the breeze “ruffling my hair and tickling my face”.

Not long after, Katherine — born on June 29, 1980 — won an infant-school talent show at the Alderman Davies Church in her hometown of Neath. She had her hair tied in bunches by her mother. She was four years of age. The win started a pattern of success throughout her life.

Katherine, who would sing songs from Les Miserables with her young sister Laura at family gatherings, joined the church choir at St David’s in Neath at the age of seven. She was head choirgirl within two years. At 11, she won the Welsh Choir Girl of the Year. “I remember how nervous I was,” she says. “It was all part of the journey to be able to do this.”